2007-2008, Anthropology, University of Toronto, Mississauga

Course Web Page:
Course CCNet page:
Dr. Heather M.-L. Miller
Office:  208 North Building, UTM
Email:  heather.miller "at"
Phone:  UTM:  905-828-3741  (email is better, except for Wednesdays)
Class meeting:               217 North                     Wednesdays 2-6
Open Lab Time:             217 North                     Wed by appointment (other days possible)
Office Hour:                     208 or 217 North        Fall: After class and by appointment
                                                                                 Spring:  above plus Tuesday 1-2

Teaching Assistant:  Greg Braun
Email:  greg.braun "at"
Office:  221 North Building, UTM
Office Hours:  By appointment (open lab)

Course Description

This seminar and practicum focuses on insights into social and cultural processes provided by the study of technology. It emphasizes hands-on experimental approaches to research as well as the use of archaeological, textual, and ethnographic studies. Students will develop their own research project, including an experimental or replicative study, and will write a publishable paper or equivalent on this project.

Although coming from the perspective of archaeology, this course is designed for students with either an archaeological or socio-cultural focus, especially given my current fieldwork in technology in both sub-fields.  We will approach technologies from a variety of perspectives:  through readings and discussion of major theoretical topics; through analysis of archaeological data; through ethnographic videos and accounts; and through hands-on techniques of reconstruction, experimentation and analysis.

Technology and production will be studied alternatively from the perspective of the modern scholar, focusing on the major methods archaeologists and others have used to study technology, and from the perspective of the craftsperson, focusing on basic production technologies for a number of crafts.

Intertwined with this, a number of themes in the study of technology will be examined, such as organization & control of production, style of technology, and the value of objects.  Throughout, social and cultural as well as economic and functional reasons for the development and adoption of new technologies will be discussed.

(1) Miller, Heather M.-L.,  2006.  Archaeological Approaches to Technology.  San Diego, CA: Elsevier/Academic Press. 
(2) Pdfs of the remaining reading selections will be available on the course CCNet website (URL at top of page).  Readings for classes related to specific student interests will be added to the website within the first few weeks of the course.

Course Requirements and Grading
The course mark will depend on participation, lab reports, and various portions of a final project.  Total of 1000 points = 100%
[1] 20% of the course mark (200 points) will be based on participation in class.  This includes class attendance, critical discussion of readings (including submission of written questions), and involvement in labs.  Students may be assigned as discussion leaders for particular classes/articles.  Failure to participate fully in all stages of lab work will result in considerable loss of marks.
[2] 20% (200 points) for lab reports submitted for designated labs.  Format to be provided.
[3] 60% (600 points) for the course project.  Each student will do an individual project examining the role of technology in a past or recent society, based on the experimental or replicative investigation of an object or manufacturing technique.  This project with be presented orally to the class as part of a class poster session, and also as a written document in the form of a formal paper/article.  Various steps will be submitted so the instructor can provide the maximum feedback on your project.  Past papers have gone on to become conference presentations, published papers, or the foundation for dissertation research.
            Topic Statement (1-2 paragraphs at least)                     (no mark, but I will tell you how I                                                                                                              would have marked it)
            Annotated bilbliography of potential sources                            10% (100 points)
                        (literature, film, web, etc.)
            Outline of Project (Research & Production)                               5% (50 points)
            Class Poster Presentation                                                             10% (100 points)
            Draft of Written Paper                                                                     10% (100 points) *
            Written Paper                                                                                  25% (250 points) *
                                                                                                                        60% (600 points)
*Values changed with class vote on Sept. 19, to conform with University Policy.
Lab Work for Individual Projects
We are only able to do a few hands-on projects in class. Depending on the topics chosen and the number of students in the class, labs related to individual projects may be incorporated into the class labs. In addition, I may schedule optional weekly lab times when I meet with students outside of class to do further lab work related to their individual topics. Other students are welcome to attend any sessions of interest, whether related to their own projects or not.
Class Schedule – First Semster
Week Topics Readings (finish BEFORE class)
Sept. 12 Discussion Themes: Overview and Introduction: Themes in Archaeological/Anthropological Technology ; Discussion of Potential Projects; Schedule Pottery & Metals Firing date
Sept. 19 Discussion Themes: (Ancient) Technology – Definitions, Archaeological methods, Analogy
(1) Miller Chapters 1 and 2
(2) Skibo & Shiffer (2001)
Be prepared to be muddy!
Sept. 26 Discussion Themes: Metals; Pyrotechnology
Video: Dhokra: The Lost Wax Process in India
Demo & Lab: Ashante (West African) Lost Wax Casting
(1) Miller p. 159-162 (Shaping & Finishing; Casting)
(2) Horne (1987)
(3) Fox (1988) pp. 1-30, 93-109
Lost Wax Casting : 10 am – 5 pm; bring lunch
Oct. 3  
Discussion Themes: Craft types; Extractive-Reductive Crafts; Stone
Video: Flintknapping with Bruce Bradley.
Demo/Slides: Stone Bead Production in Khambat, India (agates-chipped) and in Peshawar, Pakistan (talc/steatite & lapis-sawn). References: Kenoyer, Vidale &. Bhan (1991, 1994); Roux (2000), Roux et al. (1995) ; Vidale (1995)
Video: Roux (2000) – demonstration CD
LITHICS LAB – Organization of Production, Segregation & Segmentation
(1) Miller Ch. 3, p. 41-65; review Ch. 2
(2) Kenoyer et al. (1991)
(3) Roux et al. (1995)
(4) Shar & Vidale (19 )
If you are interested in stone usewear studies, I should introduce you to Dr. Chen Shen, Curator at the ROM.
Discussion Themes:
(1) Organization of production; Researching entire technological systems
(2) Fibers, Sculpted Organics (Wood & Bone)
Demo/Slides: Fibers
Video: The Art of Guetemalan Weaving
The Dogrib Birchbark Canoe
(1) Miller Ch. 3, p. 65-100;
(2) McGhee (1977)
(3) Wake (1999)
(4) Miller, Ch. 5, p. 167-185 (boats); review Ch. 2
(5) Arnold (1995)
Oct. 17 Discussion Themes: Skill; Apprenticeship
Video: The World According to Basketry
(1) Wendrich 1999: pp. 1-4, 389-394, 419-426.
(2) Crown (2001)
(3) Review Roux et al. (1995) AND
(4) Review Kenoyer et al. (1991) – both from Oct. 3
Oct. 24  
Demonstrations & Labs: CLAY, POTTERY
Processing raw clay; Temper Types; Handbuilding pottery (pinched/drawn vs. slab vs. coil pottery).
Lab: Temper, part I. --PREPARE TO BE MESSY—
Videos: Maria. Indian Pottery Maker of San Ildefonso.
The Potters of Thrapsano
(1) Miller - Review Ch. 3, p. 43-46 (Classification of crafts)
(2) Miller, Ch. 4, p. 101-128
Pottery technology; Organization of production.
Think about the varying methods of organization of potters’ work & the various distribution systems in the ethnographic readings AND in the videos to date
Lab: Temper, part II
(1) Review Miller Ch. 4 readings from last week.
(2) Sinopoli (2003): pp. 13-37 – overview of organization of production
(3) Shah (1985): pp. 15-28 – Three different manufacturing traditions for same objects; use for toys as well as ritual
Discussion Themes: Value & Status;
Material Culture Meanings & Values
Lab: Object Analysis—multiple perspectives 
Individual Projects—Lab Work, Individual Meetings
(1) Miller , Ch. 4, p. 128-144 (vitrified
(2) Csikszentmihalyi (1993)
(3) Jones (1990)
(4) Miller, Ch. 6, p. 203-226 (value)
Nov. 14 Discussion Themes: Metals; Style of Object; Style of Production (Technological style)
METALS - Review Lost Wax Casting
SCULPTED ORGANICS – Review bone working
(1) Miller, Ch. 4, p. 145-166 (Metals);
(2) Miller, Ch. 5, p. 191-201 (Technological Style)
(2) Hegmon (1992) – style
(3) Hosler (1994) – technological style
Nov. 21 Discussion Themes: Innovation & Tradition; Agricultural Technologies
Individual Projects—Lab Work, Individual Meetings
Review Progress on Bibliographies
(1) Miller, Ch. 5,p. 180-191 (Innovation & Labor)
(2) Torrence & van der Leeuw (1989)
(3) Reddy (1997) – harvesting
(4) Foxhall (1998) – use of byproducts
(5) Erickson (2006)
Discussion Themes: Ritual Technology
Video: Sandpainting: A Navajo Tradition
Demo/Slides: Asabano Drums
(1) Miller, Ch. 6, p. 226-235 (ritual)
(2) Review Shah (1985) as contrast
(3) Lohmann (2006)
Dec. 5 Discussion Themes: Defining the Study of Technology; Technological Systems; Importance of Studying Technology (1) Miller, Ch. 7; review Ch. 1
(2) Franklin (1992[1990]): pp. 11-35, 55-75.
(3) Bleed (2001)

Important Dates in the Second Semester
The Art of Guatemalan Weaving. 2000. Produced by Jan Olsen in highland Guatemala in 1999. 30 min. Jan Olsen, 6719 106 St., Edmonton, Alberta T6H 2W1,
Dhokra: The Lost Wax Process in India, 1989, produced by David J. Capers in Orissa, India. 26 min.
The Dogrib Birchbark Canoe (Tliicho K’iela), 1997, Dogrib Divisional Board of Education & Lone Woolf Television Production Services. Chief Jimmy Bruneau Regional High School, Northwest Territories. 29 min.
Flintknapping with Bruce Bradley. 1989. Produced by INTERpark, Cortez, CO. ca. 55 min.
Maria. Indian Pottery Maker of San Ildefonso. 19xx? US National Park Service. 27 min. (manufacture of handmade pottery from clay collection to firing by Maria Martinez & her son)
The Potters of Thrapsano: A Modern Workshop with Clues to Ancient Technology. 1999. Cinegraphic Films. 27 min. (large jar manufacture using a combination of handmade & wheelmade sections, pottery workshop on Crete)
Sandpainting. A Navajo Tradition. 19xx? Produced by INTERpark, Cortez, CO. 37 min.
Wendrich, Willeke. 1999. The World According to Basketry. Research School of Asian, African and Amerindian Studies (CNWS), Universiteit Leiden Video ca. 60 min. ISBN 90-5789-035-6
References – First Semester
Arnold, Jeanne E. 1995. Transportation Innovation and Social Complexity among Maritime Hunter-Gatherer Societies. American Anthropologist 97(4):733-747.

Bleed, Peter. 2001. Artifice Constrained: What Determines Technological Choice? In: Schiffer, Michael B. (ed), Anthropological Perspectives on Technology. Amerind Foundation New World studies series, no. 5. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. Pp. 151-162.

Crown, Patricia L. 2001. Learning to Make Pottery in the Prehispanic American Southwest. Journal of Anthropological Research 57:451-469.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 1993. Why We Need Things, In: Steven Lubar & W. David Kingery (eds), History From Things: Essays on Material Culture. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Pp. 20-29.

Erickson, Clark L. 2006. Intensification, Political Economy, and the Farming Community. In Defense of a Bottom-up Perspetive of the Past. In: Joyce Marcus & Charles Stanish (eds), Agricultural Strategies. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, UCLA. Pp. 334-363.

Fox, Christine. 1988. Asante Brass Casting. Lost-wax casting of gold-weights, ritual vessels and sculptures, with handmade equipment. Cambridge African Monographs 11. Cambridge: African Studies Centre.

Foxhall, Lin. 1989. Snapping up the Unconsidered Trifles: the Use of Agricutlural Residues in Ancient Greek and Roman Farming. Environmental Archaeology 1: 35-40.

Franklin, Ursula. 1992 [1990]. The Real World of Technology. CBC Massey Lectures Series. Concord, Ontario: House of Anansi Press.

Hegmon, Michelle, 1992. Archaeological Research on Style. Annual Review of Anthropology 21: 517-536.

Hosler, Dorothy. 1994. Sound, color and meaning in the metallurgy of Ancient West Mexico. World Archaeology 27(1): 100-115.

Horne, Lee. 1987. The Brasscasters of Dariapur, West Bengal: Artisans in a Changing World. Expedition 29(3): 39-46.

Jones, Mark. 1990. FAKE? The Art of Deception. BM Magazine. The Journal of the British Museum Society. Spring 1990, pp. 19-34.
Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark, Massimo Vidale, and Kuldeep Kumar Bhan. 1991. Contemporary stone beadmaking in Khambhat, India: patterns of craft specialization and organization of production as reflected in the archaeological record. World Archaeology 23(1):44-63.

Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark, Massimo Vidale & Kuldeep K. Bhan. 1994. Carnelian Bead Production in Khambhat, India: An Ethnoarchaeological Study. In B. Allchin (ed.) Living Traditions. Studies in the Ethnoarchaeology of South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. pp. 281-306.

McGhee, Robert. 1977. Ivory for the Sea Woman: The Symbolic Attributes of a Prehistoric Technology. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 1:141-149.

Reddy, Seetha Narahar. 1997. If the Threshing Floor Could Talk: Integration of Agriculture and Pastoralism during the Late Harappan in Gujarat, India. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 16:162-187.

Roux, Valentine. 2000. Cornaline de l'Inde. Des pratiques techniques de Cambay aux techno-systèmes de l'Indus. Paris: Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l'homme.

Roux, Valentine, Blandine Bril, and Gilles Dietrich. 1995. Skills and learning difficulties involved in stone knapping: the case of stone-bead knapping in Khambhat, India. World Archaeology 27(1):63-87.

Shah, Haku. 1985. Votive Terracottas of Gujarat. Living Traditions of India Series. New York: Mapin International.

Shar, G.M. and Massimo Vidale. 19 . Zahar Muhrow: Soapstone-Cutting in Contemporary Baluchistan and Sind. Annali dell’ Istituto Universario Orientale di Napoli.

Sinopoli, Carla M. 2003. The Political Economy of Craft Production. Crafting Empire in South India, c. 1350-1650. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Read Ch. 2, summary of archaeological approaches to craft specialization)

Skibo, James M. and Michael B. Shiffer. 2001. Understanding Artifact Variability and Change: A Behavioral Framework. In: Schiffer, Michael B. (ed), Anthropological Perspectives on Technology. Amerind Foundation New World studies series, no. 5. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. Pp. 139-150.

Torrence, Robin and Sander E. van der Leeuw. 1989. Introduction: what’s new about innovation? In: Sander E. van der Leeuw and Robin Torrence (eds), What’s New? A Closer Look at the Process of Innovation. London: Unwin Hyman. Pp. 1-15.

Vidale, Massimo. 1995. Early Beadmakers of the Indus Tradition. The Manufacturing Sequence of Talc Beads at Mehrgarh in the 5th Millennium B.C. East and West 45(1-4): 45-80

Wake, Thomas A. 1999. Exploitation of Tradition: Bone Tool Production and Use at Colony Ross, California. In: The Social Dynamics of Technology. Practice, Politics, and World Views. Dobres, Marcia-Anne and Christopher R. Hoffman, eds. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. pp. 186-208.

Wendrich, Willeke. 1999. The World According to Basketry. An Ethno-archaeological Interpretation of Basketry Production in Egypt. Leiden, Netherlands: Research School of Asian, African and Amerindian Studies (CNWS), Universiteit Leiden. (Read sections indicted on skill and apprenticeship.)
Course Regulations for Assignments
(1) There are no make-ups for labs or weekly questions (participation), except with a doctor’s excuse or other university-approved documentation.
(2) Late assignments will lose 10% of the value of the assignment per calendar day, including weekends.  5% will be deducted for assignments turned in after the first hour of class on the date due, even if the assignment is turned in on the due date.  It is your responsibility to turn in late assignments to me in my office, at my convenience.  On Mondays and most Fridays, I am only available at St. George.
(3) When you hand in your assignments, you must sign the submission form. This form will be available on the due date during class, or by special arrangement in advance with the instructor. DO NOT submit your assignment to the secretary nor to anyone else in the Department of Anthropology. DO NOT slide your assignment under the instructor's office door. The assignment has not been officially submitted until you sign the submission form.  You are also advised to make a copy of your assignments before submitting them.
(4) You may work with other students in preparing for assignments, but what you submit must be your own work. You are encouraged to discuss questions together, or share source materials, or recommend readings and web sites. However, I will expect everyone in the class to have a different topic for their essay -- if two of you have exactly the same topic, I will assign a different topic to both of you, after consultation.
(5) Please be especially careful to avoid plagiarism, which is a serious academic offence.  Carefully read the section under "Citations" in the Essay Instructions, once you have this handout.  Be sure to cite ideas as well as direct quotations, even if these ideas are paraphrased. All quotes should be either in quotation marks or indented if longer than two sentences.
Essays in which plagiarism is detected will be severely penalized. For more details, see Section 7.11 "Academic Honesty" and Section 11.2 "The Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters" in the UTM Calendar. It is your responsibility to be familiar with this code, and adhere to it. Be sure to read the link to the information on plagiarism on the web site,

Class Schedule – Second Semster

Weekly Submissions
For this term, your reading will primarily relate to your own projects.
Therefore, for your weekly submissions, I would like you to turn in 1-2 pages of a 'journal' of your progress.   This journal will be of great help as you write up each section of the remaining assignments – use it as a place to take useful notes on various aspects of your project.
Each week’s submission can include all or any of the following categories.  You do not need to use all categories every week, but please do organize what you write under the appropriate headings;  they do not need to be in this order.
--Annotated Readings:  provide annotations for any new sources you find for your topic; if you have only found a source and not yet read it, you may simply list it, and annotate it for a later week;
--Use of Previous Readings: discuss any new ideas or discoveries you have had that involve the use of sources you have annotated in the past (including readings assigned for class as well as your previously submitted Annotated Bibliographies);
--Production Process: discuss any new information about the production process that you have found in your reading or through other sources;
--Materials/Tools: discuss any new acquisitions or creations of necessary materials or tools;
--Contacts: discuss any contacts with people you have had this week (by email or in person) that have helped you with your project; this can include class members and instructors;
--Cultural Issues:  discuss any thoughts you have about the role of your technology in its cultural setting – social, economic, ideological, etc.;
--Other:  anything else you would like to include.



Jan. 9

Lab 3:  Problem Solving in Fired Clay Object Production – Part I  (clay body; forming; slip production)

 Projects:  Discussion of Production Process; Writing Outlines

 Lab 3:  Pottery – Part II (slipping/decoration)

No weekly submission

 [Review past readings on pottery production techniques (eg. Miller Ch. 4) for help with Lab 3]

Jan. 16

OUTLINE of PROJECT DUE – Present to class

 Lab 3:  Pottery – Part III (decoration/firing)

 Discussion:  (1) Franklin article – holistic (individual) & prescriptive (managed) production processes, etc.

 (2) Readings for future weeks (in groups by topic)

Assignment will take the place of first weekly submission

(1) Franklin 1992[1990] – corrected version, download from Dec 5 Handouts folder in CCNet;

Also submit Readings for Future Weeks

Jan. 23


 Discussion Themes: Social Events & Social Process: Bonding through Feasting, Drinking, Story-telling, Work Parties

 Film:  The Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea

Weekly journal submission due from this date onwards

(1) Jennings et al. 2005

Jan. 30

Discussion Themes:  Food Technologies;  Recording Oral & Visual testimony

 Lab 4:  Portuguese Cheese Making (Guest Demonstration)

Weekly journal submission

(1) David & Kramer 2001: Ch. 3 (pp. 63-90)

Feb. 6

Lab:  Creating Posters


Weekly journal submission

(1) Bring your Project Outline;
(2) Review Handout on Posters

Feb. 13


Lab:  Lithics   (no lab report)

Weekly journal submission


Feb. 20



Feb. 27

POSTERS DUE to instructor for printing

 Discussion Themes:   Technology of Beauty and Personal Adornment; Cultural Values and Attitudes

 Lab:  Beauty Technology (to be determined)

Weekly journal submission

Readings to be determined

Mar. 5

POSTER PRESENTATIONS in CLASS  (class till 6 pm)

Weekly journal submission

Mar. 1

Discussion Themes:  Weapons & Tools; The Role of the Tool-Maker (Smith, etc.) in Past Societies
Lab:  Initial Work on Forge and possible Pottery Kiln;

Help with individual projects

Weekly journal submission

Readings to be determined

Mar. 19

Lab:  Creation of Iron-Working Forge & Pottery Kiln (weather permitting – otherwise will have to re-schedule);

Help with individual topics

Weekly journal submission

Mar. 26

(both Miller & Braun away March 27-30 for conference)

Lab:  Pottery Kiln Firing & work on Forge (weather permitting – otherwise postpone to next week)

Weekly journal submission


Apr. 2

Lab:  Iron-Working at Forge and possible Pottery Firing;

Woad and other dye plant planting (weather permitting)

Weekly journal submission

Apr. 9


NO weekly journal submission

References – Second Semester

David, Nicholas and Carol Kramer, 2001.  Ethnoarchaeology in Action.  Cambridge World Archaeology Series.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jennings, Justin, Kathleen L. Antrobus, Sam J. Atencio, Erin Glavich, Rebecca Johnson, German Loffer and Christine Luu, 2005.  Drinking Beer in a Blissful Mood: Alcohol Production, Operational Chains, and Feasting in the Ancient World.  Current Anthropology 46(2): 275-303.
Be sure to read all the comments and the response!

Wiener, Annette B.  1991 / c. 1990.  The Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea.  Produced and directed by David Wason.  London: Granada Television International. VHS Videocassette, 52 min.      (Available in Audio-Visual Collections, Media Commons, U of T, Videocass 006577).