Ray Guns and Broken Pots: Revealing Bronze-Age Imports and Imitations at Tell Mozan, Syria

Monday, February 3, 2020 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

This is a past event.

Ahmanson Center (ACB), 330
825 Bloom Walk , Los Angeles, CA 90089

A talk by Ellery Frahm, Yale University

Archaeological studies of Mesopotamian complex societies have long been predicated on the appearance of broken pottery. Variation in ceramic style and technology is also thought to reflect cultural variation. Chemical studies of pottery, however, have revealed that the distribution of ceramic style is not so simple. Increasingly archaeologists have studied pottery using portable analytical instruments, but one key issue is ensuring that such analyses can be interpreted in behaviorally meaningful ways. This involved using experimental replicas to show how clays and tempers can influence the data in ways that reflect behaviors in the past. The results were, in turn, used to consider Bronze Age ceramic wares at Tell Mozan in Syria. Ultimately, the use of a portable analytical instrument revealed otherwise invisible distinctions between imported pottery and locally made imitations, permitting new insights into cultural phenomena such as the expression of social status through material culture and the spread of stylistic innovations.

Sponsored by USC Archaeology

Food and Beverages Provided

Event Type

Lecture / Talk / Workshop


Students, Faculty/Staff


University Park Campus


Syria, archaeology, Dornsife, dornsife events, excavation

Archaeology Research Center, School of Religion
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