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Ceramics and social practices at Ille Cave, Philippines

This research uses ceramic analysis to investigate variations in technological practices in the Philippines, and the relationships with pottery traditions previously reported for wider Southeast Asia. The thesis focuses on an examination of the earthenware ceramics from the multi-period burial and occupation site of Ille Cave and Rockshelter, and nearby cave sites in northern Palawan, Philippines. Previous work on Philippine ceramics has used surface decorations to discuss grand narratives of human movement. This thesis argues that technology, rather than decoration or style, is a better indicator of people and social practice. While critiquing these dominant interpretations, this thesis seeks to build on previous work by demonstrating how differences in ceramic technology can be interpreted as indicators of distinct learning traditions and learning networks, suggesting different communities of practice. The range of techniques used to prepare the clay, form and decorate the ceramics, were analysed macroscopically in hand specimen, and microscopically by petrography, stereoscopy, and scanning electron microscopy to reconstruct the chaîne opératoire which shows difference in technological practice. Results indicate that most of the ceramics were locally made and used as votive offerings rather than as grave goods, jar burials or for ritual breakage, during the Developed Metal Age. The cave sites were returned to as a fixed point in the landscape to commemorate the dead. It is suggested that the variability in ceramics coupled with the mortuary practices were expressions of a group’s social complexity and cultural identity. The ceramic variability shows distinct cultural pluralism which demonstrates a diversity of social groups in a small locale. Although some commonalities in pottery production and decorative techniques with those in wider Southeast Asia are discussed, the current lack of dating evidence or comparative ceramic technology studies makes it difficult to interpret the direction and timing of large scale cultural change. This thesis, however, presents methods and theories for how this research can be developed.
Date January 2015
CreatorsBalbaligo, Y. E.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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