JOANNA SOFAER

POTS, HOUSES AND METAL: TECHNOLOGICAL RELATIONS AT THE BRONZE AGE TELL AT SZÁZHALOMBATTA, HUNGARY

Summary. At the Bronze Age tell of Százhalombatta, Hungary, techniques used for making pottery echo those used in other media. Pottery and architecture have a close relationship. Not only were both made of clay, but methods of making pots echo those used for building. Similarly, pottery and metalwork share common themes and technologies for working with clay and bronze. Since choices made by potters are not solely confined to the environment, raw materials and tools, but are also socially and culturally defined, by implication the transfer of know-how must be situated within social networks between people. This paper considers how the identification of technical relationships between different media at Százhalombatta can be used to explore social relations in Bronze Age society, thereby suggesting relationships that work on both technical and social levels.

introduction
Approaches to the technology of prehistoric pottery often tend to focus on the technical parameters of production. In Hungary, as elsewhere, technological studies of pottery manufacture have concentrated on the composition of ceramic artefacts and on provenance (Varga et al. 1989; Ilon and Varga 1994; Szakmány 2001; Szakmány and Kustár 2000; Gherdán et al. 2002). Firing techniques and the determination of firing temperatures have also received some attention (Maniatis and Tite 1981; Varga et al. 1988; Nagy et al. 2000). Similarly, examinations of metalworking technology frequently concentrate on the composition of bronzes and their provenance (Mozsolics 1967; Szabó 1998; Bertemes and Heyd 2002). The investigation of house building technology forms part of an established Hungarian concern with the archaeological and ethnographic study of local domestic architecture, where the main focus is on building techniques (Kovács 1977; Bóna 1982; Máthé 1988; Meier-Arendt 1992; Cseri and Füzes 1997; Poroszlai 2003a). Such studies have been of great importance in highlighting the complexity and sophistication of Bronze Age craftsmanship. They have, however, led to an emphasis on manufacturing processes and individual objects as the outcome of craft production, rather than highlighting craftspeople. Furthermore, while technological developments or production techniques have previously been studied in archaeological contexts within the confines of individual crafts, objects are rarely made or used in isolation. A range of studies have pointed
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out formal, metaphorical, and technical relationships between different crafts. For example, the production of skeuomorphs plays on the formal qualities of objects, moving between different media in order to deliberately evoke an object made in one material in another (Knappett 2002; 2005; Vickers and Gill 1994). Symbolic relationships between craft production activities and other aspects of human life may underpin belief systems, being used as a means of explaining the world (e.g. Gosslain 1999; Barley 1984; 1994; Herbert 1993; Sillar 1996; Mahias 1993; Leopold 1983). Craftspeople may also face common technical problems. Thus control over heat is a common theme in the production of pots and metal, and the pyrotechnology involved in pottery making and metalworking is closely related (Friedman 1998; Kaiser et al. 1986). There are, however, important differences between these three kinds of relationship. The first is iconic rather than indexical (Knappett 2002) since it does not necessarily imply contiguity or causality, although given sufficient contextual evidence these may be explored (Knappett 2005). The second relates to the materialization of symbols and mutual understanding of a coherent belief system that links a wide range of potential actions. Only the third implies direct knowledge of production processes involved in the other craft and a real transfer of know-how between crafts and craftspeople. In this paper I want to focus primarily on the last of these three different kinds of relationship, as the social implications of the transfer of principles and techniques between crafts have been less frequently addressed in archaeological settings. In particular, I want to explore the social implications of the transfer of know-how between pottery, houses and metalwork in the Early and Middle Bronze Age using the rich ceramic assemblage from the tell site of Százhalombatta, Hungary. At Százhalombatta the methods used for making pots in clay echo those used in other media. Since the choices made by potters are not solely confined to mediating components of the environment, raw materials and tools, but are also socially and culturally defined (van der Leeuw 1993, 241), by implication the transfer of know-how must be situated within social networks between people (Bromberger and Chevallier 1999). The identification of technical relationships between different media can be used to consider social relations in Bronze Age society, thereby suggesting relationships that work on both technical and social levels.

the tell at százhalombatta
The site of Százhalombatta is situated on the right bank of the Danube, 30 km south of Budapest (Fig. 1). The site is one of the largest and best preserved Bronze Age temperate tell settlements in Central Europe, being 200 by 100 m in area, excluding the south and south-west parts of the site, which may represent up to one-third of the original area and which were destroyed during clay extraction by a local brick factory and erosion by the River Danube (Poroszlai 2000). Deposits of cultural material at the site are up to 6 m deep and date from the Hungarian Early Bronze Age to the Iron Age (Varga 2000). The excavated Bronze Age layers date from the transition from the Classic Nagyrév (Szigetszentmiklós) to Late Nagyrév (Kulcs) phase of the Early Bronze Age, with continuity in use of the site through the following Middle Bronze Age Vatya tradition (Vatya I–III) and Vatya-Koszider phase at the end of the Middle Bronze Age (2000–1500/1400 BC), until a hiatus in the use of the site that lasted until the Urnfield period (Kristiansen 2000; Poroszlai 2000). The site has been the subject of three excavation campaigns: the first in 1963 by T. Kovács of the Hungarian National Museum (Kovács 1969), the second in 1989–93 by I.
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1 These excavations have resulted in a substantial. Wasters found at Százhalombatta dating to the Vatya-Koszider phase indicate that pottery was made at the site (Poroszlai 1996). Vicze 2001) and there is a striking increase in the range of vessel forms at the start of the Vatya phase (Vicze 2001). Horváth et al. well-preserved ceramic assemblage belonging to the Nagyrév. OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. while the range of vessel forms then seems to stabilize. it was fortified with a rampart and ditch during the Vatya phase (Poroszlai 2000. Gothenburg University. as the period progresses there is a noticeable elaboration and exaggeration of existing forms (Vicze 2001) (Fig. 2000. Cambridge University. 2003b. with a series of other smaller surrounding structures (Poroszlai 2000). The Vatya phase represents a typological development from the Nagyrév and contemporary Kisapostag traditions (Bóna 1975. Poroszlai 2000. However. The rectangular houses discovered so far at Százhalombatta are approximately 8 × 15 m. involving teams from the Matrica Museum. 2a–e). 1992. and Vatya-Koszider traditions of the Early and Middle Bronze Age. Sørensen and Vicze in press). and Southampton University. and most recently from 1998 an on-going international excavation (the SAX Project). Poroszlai 2000. moulds. Bronze objects. Poroszlai of the Matrica Museum (Poroszlai 1996. 129 . Hungary. and slag attest to metalworking at the site from the Early Bronze Age (Mozsolics 1967. Vatya. There is continuity in house building techniques throughout the Early and Middle Bronze Age at the site (Poroszlai 2000). 2000).JOANNA SOFAER Százhalombatta Lake Balaton Danube Tisza 0 100km Figure 1 Location of the site of Százhalombatta. fragments of bronze. In common with other Vatya tells. 2003b). 1 The SAX Project forms part of the wider EC-funded Emergence of European Communities Project.

Vicze 2001). HOUSES AND METAL Nagyrév Vatya Nagyrév Vatya/ Koszider Vatya Figure 2a Major fineware bowl and jug forms in the Early to late Middle Bronze Age at Százhalombatta (drawing S. Poroszlai 2000. Houses and other structures at the site are also made with clay. Poroszlai 2000. Ground stone tools. Use and control over clay were vital OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY 130 © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.POTS. which was used particularly for walls made of wattle and daub applied in layers. metal objects and moulds for bronze tools that could have been used for woodworking have been found at the site (Horváth et al. 1400/1500BC 1700/1850BC 2000BC 1400/1500BC Vatya/ Koszider 1700/1850BC 2000BC pots and houses The start of the Bronze Age saw a move towards the increased use of wood in architecture (Máthé 1988). Budden after Bóna 1975. Clay was an important resource for building both pots and houses as both were made of the same local material. and floors which were made of beaten earth or plastered. Budden after Bóna 1975. Figure 2b Major cup forms in the Early to late Middle Bronze Age at Százhalombatta (drawing S. Vicze 2001). At Százhalombatta there is significant evidence for the use of wood in the construction of houses and other features. . A wood-lined pit was discovered in 2004. along with large base-timbers laid in foundation trenches. 2000. Post-holes indicate the use of substantial vertical timbers for building. Clay ovens are frequently associated with the houses. Poroszlai 2000). albeit with different ‘mixes’ and tempers.

may also have bound people to the site through a close relationship between place and material expression. Vicze 2001). studies of storage vessels and urns suggest a tripartite composite construction (Kreiter et al. Poroszlai 2000. Since the use of OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. the bases of storage vessels in cross-section often exhibit two layers of clay.JOANNA SOFAER Nagyrév Vatya/ Koszider Nagyrév Vatya/ Koszider Vatya Vatya Figure 2c Major domestic storage/cooking bowl forms in the Early to late Middle Bronze Age at Százhalombatta (drawing S. the first vertical slab was added starting from the middle of the base disc and squeezed outwards. 1400/1500BC 1700/1850BC 2000BC 1400/1500BC 1700/1850BC 2000BC 131 . in press). to everyday life. The body of the pot was then made using a slab building technique. Vicze 2001). For example. Both pots and houses at Százhalombatta are composite constructions that exhibit a mix of building techniques. here too people were literally surrounded by clay. while clearly practical and expedient. The site is situated on a substantial local clay deposit and although the term ‘age of clay’ has been applied to the Neolithic (Stevanovic 1997). The bases of many storage vessels were made with a flat disc-shaped slab. Poroszlai 2000. allowing better cohesion between the vessel wall and the base. Budden after Bóna 1975. The overwhelming use of local clay. and control over desirable local resources. In some cases. Budden after Bóna 1975. Figure 2d Major domestic storage/cooking jar and strainer forms in the Early to late Middle Bronze Age at Százhalombatta (drawing S. As a result.

161–2) has argued for a metaphorical relationship between pots and houses on the basis of symmetry in their construction. In addition to similar principles of construction. but also striking. reflecting expediency in techniques that allow pots and houses to be made in particular ways. Furthermore. Clay storage bins inside houses were made by coiling. . Vicze 2001). which can be divided into floor. There are also decorative " house walls similarities between pots and houses. vessels made of wood have been found at a range of European Bronze Age sites (Harding 2000). some of which may have been used in the production of pottery. This tripartite structure of pots mirrors that of houses. while grog was mixed with daub and used for clay ovens. reeds and twig tools. Poroszlai 2000. Pots may be incorporated into houses. including those found at Százhalombatta. while there is no direct evidence for wooden vessels at the site. In addition. Budden after Bóna 1975. this technique is particularly suited to building the lower parts of such vessels. Sofaer et al.POTS. Potters may also carve wood or bone tools for pottery making and there is a range of bone tools from the site including a number of worked bone scrapers and perforators (Choyke 2000). At the Nagyrév site of Tiszaug-Kéménytet o were covered with geometric designs (Csányi 2003). In another prehistoric context. at Százhalombatta there is a more prosaic. techniques that are evident on a large number of sherds. Jones (2002. Woodworking involves scraping and smoothing. however. 2003). wall and roof. Coil joins were observed in cross-sections of necks and rims of urns indicating that this technique was used for the more delicate parts of these vessels and to facilitate abrupt changes in vessel curvature. heavy slabs on the upper parts of bi-conical vessels may lead to vessel collapse. HOUSES AND METAL Nagyrév Vatya/ Koszider Vatya Figure 2e Major urn forms in the Early to late Middle Bronze Age at Százhalombatta (drawing S. there are commonalities between techniques involved in building houses and vessel-making techniques. resemblance between the visual impact of the vegetable matter included in daub and the surface treatments of pots made using grasses. What is particularly striking at Százhalombatta. The majority of vessels at Százhalombatta are treated and/or decorated and the wide range of decorative elements includes carved or incised motifs (Poroszlai 2000. OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY 1400/1500BC 1700/1850BC 2000BC 132 © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Sherds have been found placed in the foundations of walls. is the similarity in the principle of composite technology used for pottery forming and house building. Similar complex geometric motifs are found on Nagyrév pots over the entire Nagyrév distribution area (Csányi 2003).

angular and complex shapes of some vessels. shaped. suggest the influence of metalworking (Fig. as well as elsewhere. carination and everted rims (see Hänsel 1968. this influence can be seen as early as the late Copper Age in the high looped handles of Baden cups (Kalicz 1970). 3). there is a clear preference for discontinuous profiles. Bóna 1975). particularly in the early part of the Vatya phase (Vatya I) (Vicze 2001). twisted. sieves and some types of bowls as well as some of the cups and deep vessels. OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. mainly for open vessels such as fish plates. At Százhalombatta. Trachsler 1966. Although there are some simple shapes. the highly exaggerated. Sofaer). jugs and cups are commonly strongly burnished Figure 3 Koszider jug (photograph J. 133 . which reach their height in the Koszider (Rákospalota) phase at the end of the Middle Bronze Age.JOANNA SOFAER pots and metalwork Clay and metal are both extremely plastic media that can be bent. this common property lends itself to the construction of iconic relationships between pottery and metalwork. In Hungary. sheen and decoration (Friedman 1998. and decorated. Fineware bowls. sharp angles separating the body from the neck. The influence of metalwork on Bronze Age pottery forms has long been recognized in Hungary. While these materials have different potentials. Kovács 1977. Knappett 2005). with pots displaying corners rather than curves. Childe 1949. in terms of the formal characteristics of vessels such as shape.

such as clay and wood in houses. HOUSES AND METAL on the outside. embossing and repoussé decorative techniques seen on Carpathian Middle and Late Bronze Age metalwork including axes. the techniques used to make ceramic and bronze objects display a number of parallels. At Százhalombatta. The metalwork. These are made out of a number of separate pieces: a pinched and sometimes coiled base. in press). since they crush and grind their materials to a powdery state and then remove the impurities by vanning (tin) or sieving and levigating (clay) (Herbert 1984. 24). The high gloss produced by burnishing is reminiscent of the sheen on polished bronze. the gender of the male example being indicated through the depiction of a dagger (Poroszlai 2000). Anvil moulds may have been used for forming the bases of some large storage vessels. and metal Where materials are used in conjunction with each other. Kovács 1977). anthropomorphic vessels are known from the Vatya tradition (Kovács 1973). the transfer of know-how: pots.POTS. these may allow borrowings and exchange of ideas with common spheres of knowledge between crafts. Research on fabrics from the site indicates that thermodynamically inefficient amounts of well-crushed grog (5–10 per cent) were systematically added to temper storage vessels (Kreiter 2005). . one particular aspect of pottery vessel forming techniques – a OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY 134 © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. some vessel types are made by assembling separate pieces together and joining them with a hammering technique. In addition to the formal similarities between pottery and metalwork at Százhalombatta. in press). 4). The incised triangle and punched dot decoration on Koszider pots parallel those of metalworking incising. daggers. This recycling of pots is analogous to the reuse and recycling of metal. sword hilts. The similarity between potter’s and metalworker’s techniques can be seen. Sherds of female and male vessels are known from Százhalombatta. or where basic forming or shaping techniques are shared between media. plastic or transformative potentials as in the case of clay and metal. for example. which may be a dagger or an axe. and the handle. Friedman 1998). although analysis of thin sections from Százhalombatta and other contemporary sites has shown that the paddle and anvil technique for the initial shaping of vessels was employed in a limited way for pottery found at Százhalombatta and was in wider use at other contemporary sites of the Ottomány and Gyulavarsánd traditions (Kreiter et al. or where materials have similar decorative. 145). From the Early Bronze Age Nagyrév phase onwards. Experimental work at Százhalombatta using local clays has emphasized the importance of adequate clay preparation through sieving and wedging. belt fittings and ornaments (see Mozsolics 1967. Female vessels have hands and breasts. Petrological examination of this grog has revealed pieces of grog within grog indicating the reuse of pots with a similar temper and clay (Kreiter 2005). is applied in relief and depicted in detail suggesting that the makers of pottery must have been familiar with them (Kovács 1973. There are also strong iconographic links between pots and metalwork. while male vessels depict hands and metalwork. The techniques of hammering and beating are shared by potters and smiths (Trachsler 1966. a conical neck. Paddling was more frequently employed as a finishing technique for some slab-built storage vessels such as urns (Kreiter et al. Though relatively rare. Kilian-Dirlmeier 1975. The vessel is assembled with the base and the neck joined together by hammering (Fig. wood. Use of moulds is another technique often used by potters and smiths (Friedman 1998). Potters and metalworkers need to be familiar with soils and minerals. in Classic Nagyrév one-handled jugs.

A peg or pin made from the end of the handle is slotted through this hole (Fig. The top of the handle is joined by smoothing the clay of the handle onto the body. If a finer finish is desired the inside of the pot is smoothed. This would facilitate the making of the characteristic ansa lunata handle of the Koszider phase of the late Middle Bronze Age (Budden 2005). resulting in a sharp. Although relatively little well-preserved wood has so far been found at Százhalombatta. At Százhalombatta. The end of the peg may then be flattened inside the pot to provide anchorage. bowls and jugs by piercing a hole in the vessel body from the vessel exterior while the clay is leatherhard. however. In cups and jugs the bottom part of the handle was probably attached first.JOANNA SOFAER Figure 4 Nagyrév one-handled jug (photograph J. Bradley 1978). being fixed from its base and attached to the rim. On many occasions. 135 . Piggott 1935. and rivets for joining metal. 5). Sofaer). handles are attached onto Early and Middle Bronze Age cups. or mortice and tenon joints in wood (cf. the end of the peg is split and bent back in a similar manner to a butterfly clip. on pots which are otherwise well-finished. common method of attaching handles – suggests just such a real transfer of know-how between crafts and craftspeople. In a few cases. the interior finish is lacking or poorly executed. This method of fixing the handle is strikingly similar to the principles involved in the use of pegs and posts through cross-timbers. raised margin in the vessel interior. prohibiting a detailed study of woodworking OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

2 In the Százhalombatta assemblage there is a recurring pattern of breakage with numerous examples of vessels where the handle and its surrounding area have come away from the rest of the pot. 2003). particularly those of the Middle Bronze Age Gyulavarsánd group (Vargha 1955. OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY 136 © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2003). Arnold 1982. but their primary job is to transmit loads along the piece of material. Joints are designed to withstand particular kinds of stresses which may be tension. not at a major angle away from it. HOUSES AND METAL Figure 5 Peg method of attaching handles at Százhalombatta (photograph A. . In wood. compression or torsion (Weeks 1982).POTS. a rivet acts as a clamp that holds two or more pieces of material together. this method of attaching handles might actually be said to introduce weakness into the vessel as there is less surface area where the handle adheres to the pot. Kemenczei 1988. Kreiter). at other contemporary Hungarian sites with a range of different architectural traditions. The dagger on the Vatya anthropomorphic pot from the site clearly shows riveting (Poroszlai 2000). Hänsel 1968). In other media. woodworking techniques used for building houses have been studied in more detail. Given the 2 I am grateful to Sandy Budden for discussions on this point. for example. however. At the Gyulavarsánd site of Túrkeve-Terehalom. Rivets will resist tension to a certain degree. The attachment of handles in clay in this manner is not simply imitative of wood or metal in the sense of wanting to give the formal effect of these materials. In clay. Nor is it a symbolic device designed to speak to members of the community through use or display of the vessel. While this method of attaching handles may be clearly seen on the inside of broken vessels. The mortice and tenon joint was widely known throughout Bronze Age Europe. 1991. and at Bronze Age sites elsewhere in Central Europe (Harding 2000. this kind of joint is extremely strong and secure. it is not the most functionally adept or practical method of making and joining handles as it does not fully exploit the plastic qualities of clay. it is not visible from the outside of the vessel or on whole pots. Menotti 2004). In addition. mortice and tenon joints are particularly useful for resisting lateral tension and compression (Weeks 1982). upright posts were anchored in and through base-timbers laid in the foundation trenches of the walls (Csányi and Tárnoki 1992. Riveting is a technique that can be identified in metalwork contemporary with the pottery from Százhalombatta (Mozsolics 1967. Csányi and Tárnoki 1992. In metal. techniques.

there have to be channels for the transmission of know-how between craftspeople (cf. Transfer of knowledge is quicker and more easily assimilated when the social relations are closer between people (Rice 1984). implicitly seems to separate and fragment society. OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. this does not exclude the possibility of contributions from specialist craftspeople in the erection of major structures (cf. 1992) and therefore has implications for close social relations between craftspeople. knowledge. at Százhalombatta the technical complexity and proficiency with which finewares and some large ceramic vessels were made strongly suggest specialization in the production of some vessel types. Bromberger and Chevallier 1999). as well as by constraints imposed by the natural environment (van der Leeuw 1989). 324). may rapidly adopt the practices of their new home. Pfaffenberger 1988. this emphasis is intriguing because relatively small vessels such as cups or bowls show this feature. and metalworkers Solving the technical problem of how to fix a handle onto a pot represents a distinct choice made from a universe of possibilities (Lemonnier 1986. which serve to exchange information between those who have experience in a certain matter and those who do not (van der Leeuw 1989. such as that seen in the pottery at Százhalombatta. although in functional terms they do not necessarily demand extreme strength even if lifted by the handle. Woodworking and pottery production are less frequently discussed with regard to craft specialization. A focus on individual crafts.JOANNA SOFAER usefulness of mortice and tenon joints in wood. however. Rice 1984). perhaps Early and Middle Bronze Age potters thought that they were strengthening their vessel by attaching handles in this way. The sharing or borrowing of technical knowledge between crafts implied by the ceramic handles at Százhalombatta indicates the way that technology was socially situated in Bronze Age society (cf. grave offerings and monumental architecture (Downey 1996). In terms of ceramics. Kristiansen 1998. In order for knowledge transfer to take place. Traditional models of the Early and Middle Bronze Age in Europe see it as a period of increasing social complexity with the development of prestige-based social hierarchy and craft specialization. fraternity and guild. Gosselain (2000) has shown how pottery forming techniques are generally acquired at a young age from close relatives. woodworkers. potters. through a locally anchored network (Barbe and Lioger 1999). Pottery manufacture is strongly influenced by its social. 137 . and rivets in metal. moiety. albeit with modifications (David and Hennig 1972. such as wives moving into their husband’s community. 153). techniques and human potential (Faure-Rouesnel 2001. Waterson 1997. including the institutions of kinship. Leggett and Nussbaum 2001). Primas 1997. Thus potters moving into new communities. Layton 1989). cultural and political context. Shennan 1986. Tracing the flow of information between followers of different strategies requires mapping communication networks in a society. Networks allow the transfer and circulation of knowledge from one industry to another. although in Aegean contexts arguments have been advanced for highly skilled and specialized woodworkers based largely on the existence of carpentry tools. For example. spectacle-makers in the French Jura learned to cut the arms of spectacles from the technique which watchmakers use to cut clock hands. They are often implicitly regarded as being situated within the domestic sphere. These channels take the form of social networks whose characteristics allow the pooling of resources. 1993). particularly in metalworking (Harding 2000. If so. Even if the construction of houses was a family or communal affair as their size would suggest.

for example. The status of the meehin as a craftsperson is ascribed but within the confines of gender roles. Because they are endogamous. There are a number of ethnographic examples where the organization of craft activities takes place along clearly defined social networks. Biu-Mandara-speaking peoples of West Africa (see David 1990. Thus a traditional gender association between women and clay technologies might in fact suggest that women shaped the appearance of bronze objects. leather working. Craftspeople may concentrate almost exclusively upon a single artefact type. particularly in terms of the allocation of metalworking. 2001. The use of ethnographic data to create a model for Bronze Age society raises gender issues. especially of those at the top of the hierarchy (Coningham and Young 1999). However. there are large numbers of female ornaments made of bronze. Indeed. the manufacture of musical instruments. basketry. They are endogamous with restrictions on commensality between members of different castes. and potting to a particular gender group (see Sørensen 1996). iron smelting and smithing. identifying metal as a male signifier in this particular context does not necessarily imply that all metal was made by men. Castes are commonly associated with traditional or craft occupations where the system as a whole is concerned with prestige. transmission. This provides an effective structure for the learning. and potters and metalworkers form part of a caste-like group with close social relationships. one form of network where exchange of knowledge can take place is a caste-like system. is documented in ethnographic studies of the Mende in Sierra Leone (Colonial Film Unit 1937). divining and serving as ritual specialists (Wade 1989). 232–3). there is flexibility of choice as to which craft is practised and the degree of specialization (Wade 1989). C Vaughan 1970). In a discussion of gender and metalworkers in north-west Europe. 92). The Mende are a strongly hierarchical society with gendered craft specialization and a castelike social organization (Wolfe 1969. as well as control over access to knowledge by others. Aronson 1991). Some of the best known of these are among the ˇ erny ¢ et al. house building. However. Sørensen (1996) has pointed out that in these contexts moulds for bronze casting are often made of clay and that applying different gender scenarios to these has contrasting consequences for how we understand both pottery and metalworking. with the men responsible for metalworking and the women responsible for pottery manufacture. despised or have an ambiguous status related to their role as morticians (Wade 1989). and use of technical knowledge (Wade 1989. The meehin practise a range of crafts including woodworking. The division of skills is strongly gendered. Barth (1960) argues that caste is a local term given to a universal form of social stratification. there is a widespread assumption that metalworkers in the Bronze Age were male and that potters were female (Sørensen 1996). or conversely that pottery was made by women. suggesting that men made the moulds would imply that they may have been active in pottery production. in a manner similar to that seen at Százhalombatta.POTS. thereby allowing for the possibility of social change. brass casting and potting (Wade 1989). or may practise several crafts. Based largely on ethnographic observations. A method of attaching handles to pots through a hole in the vessel wall. caste systems may also be more flexible than is often suggested. with communities rising or falling within its rankings (Coningham and Young 1999. a single craft. The meehin are frequently ostracized. Among the Fali. HOUSES AND METAL In a hierarchical society concerned with prestige such as in the European Bronze Age. Often applied to the Indian sub-continent. Earlier in this paper I pointed to the use of metalwork as a male signifier on anthropomorphic pots. On the other hand. . craftspeople will always have relatives who can teach them the skills required in a chosen craft. a craft caste-like group known as the meehin typically form 5–8 per cent of the community. Wade 1989. A third permutation considered by Sørensen (1996) – OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY 138 © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

but moulds. Nicholson and Wendrich 1994). Unlike Early Bronze Age and Middle Bronze Age sites in north-west Europe. More generally. While metalworkers are frequently regarded as having special status or roles within Bronze Age society on the basis of the transformative ‘magic’ involved in the production of metal (Budd and Taylor 1995). Such negotiation between gender groups is visible in ethnographic film of groups with strongly gendered roles (David 1990. potters are often seen to have low socio-economic status. There is evidence for a bronze-casting workshop set apart from the main settlement in an area of workshops at the Vatya tell of Lovasberény-Mihályvár (Kovács 1977. midden. Such a ranking of crafts is inconsistent with the formal and technical links between pottery. Being a local and regular activity. at Vatya tell sites. Brown 1995. particularly in terms of its planning and its relationship to a range of other unrelated. most moulds for bronze casting are made of sandstone. they also involved negotiation and co-operation between gender groups (Sørensen 1996. including those that result in material transformations (cf. Members of different gender groups may therefore have been involved in different stages of the production process or in negotiations surrounding it. 2006). Recent petrological work suggests that the number of Bronze Age clay moulds in Hungary may be greater than hitherto thought (Péterdi et al. potters may. In addition. but potentially interfering. She points out that evidence for metalworking in the form of moulds and crucibles has been increasingly demonstrated from settlement contexts and midden refuse rather than from spatially distinct or marked locations. 2002). If one accepts a gendered model of craft production. The transfer 3 This pattern is consistent with archaeological studies of the spatial distribution of craft waste in known caste systems. Sørensen and Vicze in press). 2000). house building and metal making. 62). Horváth et al. such as tuyères. Sofaer and Sørensen 2002. Petres and Bándi 1969). strongly gendered there may be a range of local traditions permitting men and women to participate in different stages of the production process. seen in the method of attaching handles to ceramic vessels. in turn. on the whole. it has been argued that as socio-economic differentiation increases. to aspects of the production process itself (see David 1990. slag and bronze fragments have been found in settlement contexts. in fact. although clay moulds are occasionally found (Mozsolics 1967. 92). 139 . suggests that social boundaries between the two crafts were rather fluid. Craft activities are not necessarily spatially distinct and spatial divisions seen today in such societies are a relatively recent phenomenon (Coningham and Young 1999. activities.3 The exchange of knowledge between metalwork and pottery at the site. potters are often said to be conservative because of their low socio-economic status (Rice 1984).JOANNA SOFAER that clay technologies and therefore metalworking are not necessarily gender-exclusive – makes for a richer and more complex model. At Százhalombatta the spatial organization of the settlement is a key question for ongoing excavations (Vicze 2004). have also been found. Even where craft production is. OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. and the status of woodworkers is at best ambiguous. Nicholson and Wendrich 1994). and fill (Poroszlai 2000. Vitelli 1995. Other objects made of clay involved in the casting process. this would. suggesting that the gender dynamics of craft production may be more complex than is often acknowledged. 49) suggests that this means that metalworking would impinge on everyone in the settlement. imply that while aspects of craft production activities may have been highly gendered. move downward on the socio-economic ladder (Rice 1984). The model proposed in this paper also raises questions about the status of craftspeople in the Bronze Age hierarchy. from collection of raw materials and production of tools. Sørensen (1996.

while the other. Wade 1989. Poroszlai (2000) has argued that finewares were linked to high-status individuals. Poroszlai 2000. Vickers and Gill 1994). metal objects are prestige items restricted to a limited number of people who form an elite (Kristiansen 1998). 238). and a potentially more restricted range of finds in contemporary unfortified settlements (Poroszlai 1988). then by extension this suggests that woodworkers were able to tap into high status. bowls and cups in the 500 years from the Nagyrév to the Vatya-Koszider periods suggest confident. the influence of metalworking on the formal characteristics of Early and Middle Bronze Age finewares argues for their enhanced value. creative. . The potters of Százhalombatta produced an extended repertoire of valued display prestige items which must have been reflected back in the enhanced social value of craftspeople as a group (cf. At Százhalombatta display included. finewares were meant for display even when not in use. and the development of hierarchy and stratification often proposed for this period in Hungary (Shennan 1993. a range of axes. Although there are relatively few bronze tools in Hungary compared to surrounding countries. reflecting a degree of social cohesion between specific occupationally defined members of the community. Furthermore. strong arguments have been made for skeuomorphs as prestige symbols (Wade 1989. further reflected in the fortification of strategic sites during the Vatya phase. and chisels are known from Vatya sites (Mozsolics 1967). represents the transfer of a prestige ideology from one medium to the other (Vicze 2001.POTS. Elsewhere. suggests that the desirability of these ceramic objects may have been significant.4 4 Although the existence of a settlement hierarchy has been established for the Vatya period. conservative ones. OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY 140 © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. (2002. the increased emphasis on social differentiation presented by possibilities in craft production placed craftspeople at the heart of Bronze Age social dynamics. Kemenczei 2003). contained rimmed chisels (Poroszlai 1998. 317) argue for the role of pottery vessels in social display activities focused around the display of subsistence wealth and consumption of food and drink. In relation to the Early Bronze Age Maros ceramics from south-east Hungary. and some woodworking tools are made of bronze (Arnold 1982). Of the two hoards from Százhalombatta. while Vicze (2001) has suggested that a decline in the quantity of metalwork buried with the dead in the middle of the Vatya phase (Vatya II). as is often argued. It was a crucial part of the processes of centralization in settlement and production (cf. but was not confined to. to date relatively few small single-layer settlements have actually been investigated. 2005) seeks to redress this imbalance by exploring the hinterland around the Százhalombatta tell. 2005. Knappett 2002. one contained two shafthole axes dating to the Vatya III phase (Poroszlai 2000). Wade 1989). consumption. The use of pottery with metallic characteristics in the display arena. The use of fineware for display was a practice that was also employed at Hungarian Middle Bronze Age sites of the Füzesabony tradition (Szathmári 2003). the bases of so-called ‘Swedish helmet’ bowls being decorated in such a way that they could be seen when hung on the wall of the house. The on-going Benta Valley project (Vicze et al. dated to the Vatya-Koszider phase. HOUSES AND METAL of knowledge between crafts allowed by the emergence of a caste system argues for parity between craftspeople with a range of specializations. While the vessels at Százhalombatta are not necessarily direct imitations of metal vessels. for special deposits of groups of pots in pits (sometimes in association with grain) (Poroszlai 2000). In the Vatya-Koszider phase in particular. If. In turn. just as metalwork was a desirable commodity. adzes. contemporary with the increased elaboration of pottery. craftspeople rather than retiring. and with the Százhalombatta hoard. Michelaki et al. the relatively rapid changes in shape along with the exaggeration seen in jugs. 174). 2003b).

Technology thus takes a central role in understanding the organizational principles of the society which uses them (van der Leeuw 1993. The transfer of knowledge between different media is particularly evident and interesting with regard to the means by which handles were attached to fineware vessels. 129). I am not arguing that the people of Százhalombatta saw pots. Technological conceptual relationships tied these materials together and allowed people to borrow and transfer the techniques that they used in one medium to another. techniques used for other materials informed those used to make pottery. the way in which they applied handles suggests a borrowing of techniques that is somewhat at odds with this. 1986. 141 .JOANNA SOFAER conclusion At Százhalombatta. ‘Techniques cannot be studied in isolation. l. or that they deliberately set out to create one out of the other. (ed. but methods of making pots echo those used for building.D.’ Techniques lend insights into society because the two are in constant symbiosis (van der Leeuw 1993. Rather. 550–74. Archaeology School of Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF references arnold. 1982: The architectural woodwork of the Late Bronze Age Village Auvernier-Nord.). director of the Matrica Museum and founder of the Százhalombatta Archaeological Park. This paper is dedicated to the memory of the late Ildikó Poroszlai. I would particularly like to thank Sandy Budden. Pottery and architecture have a close relationship. Lemonnier 1980. While Early and Middle Bronze Age potters demonstrated incredible technology. I am suggesting that there were relationships and borrowings between craftspeople at a number of levels that are revealing in terms of the perception of the materials with which people worked and the social context of craft production. Acknowledgements This article has benefited from discussions with a number of students and colleagues in Hungary and Britain. As Knappett (2005) points out. Woodworking Techniques before A. pottery and metalwork share common themes and technologies for working with clay and bronze. Ser. 1991: African women in the visual arts. Marie Louise Stig Sørensen and Magdolna Vicze. there are many ways in which things can have meaning without being symbols. In McGrail. Sandy Budden also gave generously of her pottery drawings for Figure 2. while a social network between craftspeople – in this case a castelike system – provided the avenue for the communication of technologies and techniques. since it does not fully exploit the plasticity of clay. Attila Kreiter. b. As van der Leeuw (1993. houses and metalwork as the same. BAR Int. aronson. Alice Choyke. 1993). OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY © 2006 The Author Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 111–28. Similarly. but should be seen as the arena of mediation between what is materially possible or impossible and certain aspects of social organization. 240). Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 16(31). 1500 (Oxford. 240) puts it. skill and finesse in other areas (Budden 2002). Not only were both made of clay. S.

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