Ceramic Tradition in the African Forest: Characterisation Analysis of Ancient and Modern Pottery from Ituri, D.R. Congo
This paper aims to explain the major characteristics of pottery making in the Ituri rainforest during the last millennium by identifying and comparing technological aspects of archaeological and ethnographic assemblages with the primary goal of relating some present features of ceramic production to those of the past. Such comparison has been undertaken by archaeometric characterisation: mineralogical phase analysis, structure identification, and processing behavior. This study points out that interaction between farmers and hunter–gatherers homogenised the technological repertoires throughout the diverse cultural settings of the N.E. Congo Basin. Recent ceramic assemblages share with ancient ones a consistent distribution and manufacture of pottery across a multiethnic setting in which pottery is used by ethnically diverse slash and burn farmers and bow/net hunter–gatherers. The degree of technological continuity inherent to these assemblages is measurable by empirical means, the results suggesting that ancient and modern traditions have shared, now as then, the five components that make the Ituri pottery tradition insofar as raw material extraction, preparation of clays, modelling, drying, and firing are concerned.