The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

A quantitative archaeological analysis of ceramic exchange in the Persian Gulf and Western Indian Ocean, AD c.400 - 1275

A quantitative archaeological analysis of ceramic exchange in the Persian Gulf and Western Indian Ocean, AD c.400 - 1275
A quantitative archaeological analysis of ceramic exchange in the Persian Gulf and Western Indian Ocean, AD c.400 - 1275
The aim of the study is to use ceramic finds data to provide a quantitative analysis of long-term patterns of change in the nature, volume and scale of maritime exchange within the western Indian Ocean between AD c.400 – 1275. Ceramic finds data are unique in providing a consistent measurable index of a wider system of commodity exchange in an age where few other dependable sources of systematic economic history survive. By using the available ceramic evidence as a proxy, the aim is to assess the significance of maritime exchange to the broader operation of the major state systems of the Middle East, in particular the Sasanian Empire and the Abbasid caliphate. Two main factors hold back the use of ceramics as a staple evidence base: the legacy of the slow adoption of quantitative finds recording within the Indian Ocean region, and an inability to provide a standardised definition of the same varieties of pottery that occur repeatedly in different regions. This study attempts to redress these issues by applying a single integrated system of ceramic classification to assemblages from East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Information has been collected from the largest possible range of sources by combining data from previously published reports, excavation archives, find databases, and through direct recording of archived finds collections. By presenting the largest ever compilation of quantitative ceramic evidence for the region, it is possible to revaluate a range of key assumptions regarding the operation and significance of Indian Ocean trade. The conclusions that emerge from the analysis are surprising. While the geographic range and overall number of sites engaged with long-distance exchange may have changed through time, there is no notable indication of a significant increase in the volume of ceramic imports in circulation. In addition the products of long-distance exchange continue to represent a small proportion of ceramics in regular use. This does not mean that long-distance exchange was not important. What the findings do point to is the need to develop a more sensitive understanding of how specific elements of the exchange network operated. Where alternative scales of ceramic exchange can be differentiated, it can be shown that regional exchange networks represent a major contributor to the ceramic supply system. In seeking to identify the main drivers of the maritime economy, local and regional exchange networks appear to have been significantly underemphasised and now require specific focus, and to some extent, new archaeological methodologies.
Priestman, Seth
1998807c-857e-408d-823d-27a8614ec5c0
Priestman, Seth
1998807c-857e-408d-823d-27a8614ec5c0
Blue, Lucy
576383f2-6dac-4e95-bde8-aa14bdc2461f
Peacock, David
346e90c3-c5bb-4e3e-8126-6feccc3cfc2f

Priestman, Seth (2013) A quantitative archaeological analysis of ceramic exchange in the Persian Gulf and Western Indian Ocean, AD c.400 - 1275. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 759pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The aim of the study is to use ceramic finds data to provide a quantitative analysis of long-term patterns of change in the nature, volume and scale of maritime exchange within the western Indian Ocean between AD c.400 – 1275. Ceramic finds data are unique in providing a consistent measurable index of a wider system of commodity exchange in an age where few other dependable sources of systematic economic history survive. By using the available ceramic evidence as a proxy, the aim is to assess the significance of maritime exchange to the broader operation of the major state systems of the Middle East, in particular the Sasanian Empire and the Abbasid caliphate. Two main factors hold back the use of ceramics as a staple evidence base: the legacy of the slow adoption of quantitative finds recording within the Indian Ocean region, and an inability to provide a standardised definition of the same varieties of pottery that occur repeatedly in different regions. This study attempts to redress these issues by applying a single integrated system of ceramic classification to assemblages from East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Information has been collected from the largest possible range of sources by combining data from previously published reports, excavation archives, find databases, and through direct recording of archived finds collections. By presenting the largest ever compilation of quantitative ceramic evidence for the region, it is possible to revaluate a range of key assumptions regarding the operation and significance of Indian Ocean trade. The conclusions that emerge from the analysis are surprising. While the geographic range and overall number of sites engaged with long-distance exchange may have changed through time, there is no notable indication of a significant increase in the volume of ceramic imports in circulation. In addition the products of long-distance exchange continue to represent a small proportion of ceramics in regular use. This does not mean that long-distance exchange was not important. What the findings do point to is the need to develop a more sensitive understanding of how specific elements of the exchange network operated. Where alternative scales of ceramic exchange can be differentiated, it can be shown that regional exchange networks represent a major contributor to the ceramic supply system. In seeking to identify the main drivers of the maritime economy, local and regional exchange networks appear to have been significantly underemphasised and now require specific focus, and to some extent, new archaeological methodologies.

PDF
PhD THESIS (Viva Changes).pdf - Other
Download (21MB)

More information

Published date: October 2013
Organisations: University of Southampton, Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 370037
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/370037
PURE UUID: 8d8cf855-1e6f-4f71-86a7-0905f9763c18

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 27 Oct 2014 12:37
Last modified: 12 Oct 2017 04:01

Export record

Contributors

Author: Seth Priestman
Thesis advisor: Lucy Blue
Thesis advisor: David Peacock

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×