Making things, being mobile: pottery as intertwined histories of humans and materials

Heitz, Caroline (2017). Making things, being mobile: pottery as intertwined histories of humans and materials. In: Heitz, Caroline; Stapfer, Regine (eds.) Mobility and Pottery Production: Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives (pp. 257-292). Leiden: Sidestone Press

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In this essay, I question current models of central European Neolithic societies that are informed by concepts of sedentarism and cultural homogeneity. Based on pottery styles, they miss out two fundamental conditions of human life: the constant oscillation between movement and stasis and the on-going engagement with materials. Drawing on T. Ingold’s thoughts on the ‘making’ of things and P. Bourdieu’s habitus-theory, I argue that everyday human action like the making of a pot (1), unfolds in spatially and temporally bounded movements and mobilities and (2), emerges from an engagement of humans with their material and social landscapes. Hence, the features of pottery
vessels comprise histories of their becoming that intertwine the itineraries of geological materials and their human makers. Some vessels are made and used at the same place (‘local vessels’), others are transported over various distances (‘translocal vessels’). When humans and things are on the move, encounters with otherness can trigger creative processes, which might also become materialised in pottery (‘inbetween vessels’): the appropriation
of new materials, different techniques, styles etc. To follow the itineraries of
things thus offers an entry point to a deeper understanding of past peoples’ mobilities and the negotiation and transformation of temporarily stable cultural forms. I will develop my approach on the pottery of the Neolithic settlement of Hornstaad-Hörnle IA at Lake Constance (DE) (3918-3902 BC).

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

UniBE Contributor:

Heitz, Caroline Franziska


900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)




Sidestone Press




Caroline Franziska Heitz

Date Deposited:

30 Apr 2018 13:54

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:10

Related URLs:

Uncontrolled Keywords:

movement, mobility, making, appropriation, pottery, Neolithic




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