Handmade Pottery and Social Change: The View from Late Roman Cyprus


  • Marcus Rautman University of Missouri Columbia




pottery-making, handmade and wheelmade


Technological and stylistic change in pottery-making reflects myriad material, social and economic conditions. The adoption of wheel-based pottery techniques in the east Mediterranean generally is seen to reflect rising craft specialization and social complexity in the Middle and Late Bronze Age. There is less agreement about the subsequent continuity or re-emergence of handmade pottery, especially during times of dramatic cultural change. Recent discussions of Handmade Burnished Ware in south Greece in the LBA has explored diffusionist and indigenous explanations to account for this phenomenon. A small group of handmade wares in Cyprus in the seventh century AD offers a broadly analogous situation that finds parallels throughout the Late Roman empire. Comparison of these two handmade pottery traditions emphasizes the importance of both social and economic factors underlying their appearance.

Author Biography

Marcus Rautman, University of Missouri Columbia

Marcus Rautman is Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His current research explores aspects of Late Roman urbanism in the east Mediterranean, with particular emphasis on houses, households and ceramics. Recent fieldwork includes survey and excavation at Kalavasos-Kopetra in Cyprus and at Sardis in Turkey. Together with colleagues at the Missouri University Research Reactor he has used compositional analysis to propose production areas on Cyprus for several prehistoric and Roman wares. Preliminary reports of these projects have appeared in the Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, the Journal of Roman Archaeology, and the Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research.



How to Cite

Rautman, M. (1998). Handmade Pottery and Social Change: The View from Late Roman Cyprus. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 11(1), 81–104. https://doi.org/10.1558/jmea.v11i1.81