Event: Friday Seminar: "Keepers of Tradition, Harbingers of Change: Tracing Communities of Practice in Greco-Roman Karanis, Egypt"

Date & Time

June 2, 2017 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Contact Information

Matthew Swanson


Fowler A222

Event Type

Friday Seminar

Event Details

Speaker: Dr. Sonali Gupta-Agarwal, UCLA 

Traditions are transmitted through teaching and learning. The manner in which knowledge relating to craft production gets transmitted can help us in understanding the causes behind cultural continuity and change. By using an anthropological approach to find teaching and learning patterns, I investigate the role of potters in
modern day pottery workshops of Egypt and India in the transmission of knowledge relating to pottery production. Employing video footage using a video annotation research tool, I discern subtle gestures and postures of potters engaged in the process of pottery production and statistically examine these to reveal patterns specific to each workshop. I transpose the method and understanding gained from the study of modern potters to the archaeological context in Karanis, Egypt. Teaching and learning of pottery making leaves recognizable markers on the vessel that can be traced metrically. My research suggests that one can trace ancient communities of practice, knowledge transfer and interpret continuity or change in material culture as part of an ongoing learning tradition.