Plainware and Polychrome: Quantifying Perceptual Differences in Ceramic Classification Between Diverse Groups to Further a Strong Objectivity
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A common problem when classifying archaeological objects is a potential cultural bias of the person deciding on the classification system. These are existing concerns within archaeology and anthropology and have previously been discussed as an emic/etic divide, “folk” classifications, or objective versus subjective approaches. But who gets to decide what is objective is often a subjective endeavour. To examine if and how cultural perceptions bias classification systems, we use methods from the field of cultural domain analysis to quantify differences in perception of ceramic sherds between different groups of people, specifically archaeologists and Indigenous and non-Indigenous potters. For this study, we asked participants to arrange a set of 30 archaeological sherds on a canvas, then interviewed them following each sorting exercise. A geosocial analysis of the arrangements in this pilot study suggests that there are substantial differences in the criteria by which the sherds are sorted between the groups. In particular, the arrangements by the Indigenous potters showed a greater diversity in the selection of underlying attributes. Understanding our different perceptions towards the material we use to construct history is the first step towards approaching a strong objectivity and thus a less fraught and more culturally inclusive discipline. Show more
Journal / seriesJournal of Computer Applications in Archaeology
Pages / Article No.
PublisherUbiquity Press Ltd.
SubjectPottery classification; Cultural domain analysis; Quantification of perception; Culturally informed cognition; Spatial sorting; Strong objectivity
Organisational unit09610 - Brandes, Ulrik / Brandes, Ulrik
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