Indicators of craft specialisation in medieval ceramics from north-west Russia

Indicators of craft specialisation in medieval ceramics from north-west Russia

By Clive Orton

The Archaeology of Medieval Novgorod in its Wider Context: A Study of Centre/Periphery Relations, edited by Mark Brisbane, Nikolaj Makarov and Evgenie Nosov (Oxbow Books, 2010)

Introduction: In discussing craft specialisation, we are looking for evidence for the organisation of the production of pottery in a social context, and for ways in which this may have changed over time. A model or typology for the organisation of production was provided by van der Leeuw, in the form of five stages (or ‘modes of production’) of increasing scale and intensity: household production, individual industry, household industry, village industry and large-scale industry.

 This was modified by Peacock for the study of Roman pottery, by the addition of a second dimension, representing the degree of official or élite participation, in the form of military/official production and estate production. Costin and Costin and Hagstrum developed this second dimension further by the idea of ‘attached’ and ‘independent’ types of specialists, each of which could operate at a range of scales. She also used the concept of the degree of specialisation (the ratio of producers to consumers), and four aspects which can be used to characterise production – context, concentration, scale or constitution, and intensity. These were important in breaking the link between scale and intensity of production, a model which has been criticised by others (who challenged the original model as too ‘monolithic’ by giving examples of high-intensity craft production at a domestic scale).

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