The construction and use of categories of Neolithic
pottery from Wales.
University of Southampton, Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts,
The thesis examines the Neolithic pottery from Wales and attempts to write a history of
practices concerned with its construction and use. This work is undertaken from the
standpoint that contingency, that is the constraints and possibilities of the history of
objects, has a major role in their construction and use.
The thesis begins with an examination of some ideas about contingency and history in
archaeology, biological science, material culture studies, and philosophy to build a
pragmatic methodology for the study of the material. This methodology is particularly
based upon the ideas of Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Rorty.
A discussion of the evidence for the Neolithic period in Wales is then followed by the
application of this methodology to five regional study areas within Wales. Localised
narratives about the construction and use of Neolithic pottery are produced for each
region. The methodology is then applied to the study of the material from Wales as a
whole to produce a more general narrative. This narrative is then related to the discussion
of the period as a whole, and to previous categorisations of the Neolithic and the Neolithic
The thesis allows to addition of more precise chronological resolution and some social
interpretation to a body of evidence which has previously been marginalized within British
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