Fall 2006, Anthropology, University of Toronto

Course Web Page:

Course CCNet page:


Dr. Heather M.-L. Miller

Office:  208 North Building, UTM  (or 269 South Bldg., Munk Centre, St. George)

Phone:  UTM:  905-828-3741  (Mondays & Tuesdays)           St. George:  416-946-8988 (most Fridays)

Email:  hmiller 'at'


Class meeting at UTM:                         217 North                                     Mondays 2-5

Open Lab Time at UTM:                       221 North                                      By appointment  (Mon & Tues best)

Office Hour at St. George:                    269 South Munk Centre                  Fridays by appointment

Course Description

    Although designated as an archaeology course, this course approaches past 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 ancient technology, and from the perspective of the ancient 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) You will each be provided with proofs of my forthcoming book, which will form the core reading for the class (although not in the order written):

Miller, Heather M.-L.,  in press (expected Dec. 2006).  Archaeological Approaches to Technology.  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 two weeks of the course.



The bibliography of Miller (in press) includes full references for a number of books and articles that are key background references for this class, your research, and future teaching.  If you can buy them now, do so.  Otherwise, plan for the future.  Please ask me to recommend critical texts for your particular topic(s) of interest, and also check the recommendations in appropriate sections of Miller.


Note: If you are having trouble finding recommended books, the UTM bookstore will order the book at cost  (no shipping fees) if you pay at the time of ordering.


Course Requirements and Grading

The course mark will depend on participation and on a final project. 


[1] 10% of the course mark will be based on participation in class.  This includes class attendance, critical discussion of readings, and involvement in labs.  Students may be assigned as discussion leaders for particular classes/articles.


[2] 20% for 'position papers' submitted for each class.  These are short statements (1 page single-spaced, 12 pt. font) summarizing the main point of each of the readings for that class, and indicating how they fit with each other and/or with the theme(s) for the day.


[3] 70% for course project.  Each student will do an individual project examining the role of technology in a past society, based on the experimental or replicative investigation of an ancient object or manufacturing technique.  This project with be presented orally to the class, and also as a written document in the form of either a formal paper/article or the design for a museum display.  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)

Outline of Project (Research & Production)                                       10%

20-30 minute Class Presentation                                                         25%

Written Paper                                                                                           35%




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; I expect to incorporate labs on pottery production and firing in the class this year, for example.  In addition, I often 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

The readings for each class relate to the class discussions, as do some videos & labs; while other videos are shown to introduce the readings for the following week.






Sept. 11

Discussion Themes: Overview and Introduction: Themes in Ancient Technology ;  Discussion of Potential Projects;  Schedule Pottery & Metals Firing date



Videos:  Maria.  Indian Pottery Maker of San Ildefonso.

            The Potters of Thrapsano


Sept. 18

Discussion Themes:  Ancient  Technology Ð Definitions,  Archaeological methods (as needed), Analogy; Craft types; Fired clay production



Demonstrations & Labs:  Processing raw clay;  Temper Types; Handbuilding pottery  (pinched/drawn   vs.  slab vs. coil pottery). 



(1) Miller Chapters 1 and 2;

Section 1 of Ch. 3 (Classification of crafts);   Fired clay section of Ch. 4

Sept. 25

Discussion Themes:   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 (including those from Sept. 11 & 18)



Video:   Flintknapping with Bruce Bradley.

             If time: The Art of Guetemalan Weaving.


(1) Review Miller Ch. 4 readings from last week. 

(2) Sinopoli (2003): pp. 13-37 - overview of organization of production in archy

(3) Shah (1985): pp. 15-28 -  3 different manufacturing traditions for same objects; also use for toys as well as ritual

(4) Van der Leeuw (1993):  pp. 238-288  (skim pp. 245-282) - compare different technological traditions

Oct. 2



Discussion Themes:  Extractive-Reductive Crafts (Stone, Fibers, Sculpted Organics - also hides, etc.); More on organization of production;  Researching entire technological systems



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:  The Art of Guetemalan Weaving

           The Dogrib Birchbark Canoe  


(1) Miller Ch. 3; review Ch. 2;

       Section 1 of Ch. 5 (boats)

(2) McGhee (1977)

(3) Wake (1999)

(4) Russell (2001)

(5) Arnold (1995)


If you are interested in stone usewear studies, I should introduce you to Dr. Chen Shen, Curator at the ROM.

Make-up for Oct. 9

--- Can be done at any time ---


Discussion Themes:  Skill;  Apprenticeship



Video:  The World According to Basketry


(1) Wendrich 1999: pp. 1-4, 389-394, 419-426.

(2) Crown (2001)

(3) Roux et al. (1995)

(4) Kenoyer et al. (1991)


Oct. 16

Discussion Themes:  Metals; Style of Object;  Style of Production (Technological style)



Video:  Dhokra: The Lost Wax Process in India

Demo & Lab:  Ashante (West African) Lost Wax Casting;

    model production & first coat of clay

(1) Miller, section 3 of Ch. 4 (Metals);

  section 3 of Ch. 5 (Technological Style)

(2) Hegmon (1992) - style

(3) Wright (2002) - technological style

(4) Hosler (1994) - technological style

(5) Horne (1987) - lost wax technique

Oct. 23

Discussion Themes:  Organization of Labour; Innovation & Tradition


Lab:  Second coat of clay on lost wax objects; pottery


(1) Miller , section 2 of Ch. 5 (Innovation

     & Labor)

(2) In van der Leeuw & Torrence (1989):

  (a) Torrence &  van der Leeuw, pp.1-15

  (b) Spratt, pp. 245-257

  (c) Allen, pp. 258-280

  (d) McGlade & McGlade,  pp. 281-299

  (e) van der Leeuw, pp. 300-329

  (f) Shennan, pp. 330-346

(3) Review van der Leeuw (1993) for

     Innovation & Tradition

Oct. 30



Discussion Themes:   Architecture / Built Structures; Use & Meaning of Space; Labour  Mobilization & Monumental Structures


Video:  Roman City. (Macaulay)

Lab: Object Analysis - multiple perspectives  (for next

   week's readings)

Lab 2:  Weighing out metal, crucible  building; pottery


(1) Szabo & Barfield (1991)

(2) Lawrence & Low (1990)

(3) Macaulay (1973) and (1975)


Nov. 6

Discussion Themes:   Value & Status; Material Culture Meanings & Values (in various disciplines)



Lab:  Last coat of clay on lost wax objects; pottery

Individual Projects - Lab Work, Individual Meetings

(1) Miller , section 2 of Ch. 4 (vitrified

    silicates); section 1 of Ch. 6 (value)

(2) In Lubar & Kingery (1993):

  (a) Csikszentmihalyi,  pp. 20-29.

  (b) Maquet, pp. 30-40

  (c) Friedel, pp. 41-50.

(3) Jones (1990)

Nov. 13

   FIRING DAY - START at 9 am

    Break at lunch for discussion 

Discussion Themes:   Ritual Technology;  

Video:  Sandpainting: A Navajo Tradition  (if time)

(1) Miller, section 2 of Ch. 6 (ritual)

(2) Review Shah (1985) as contrast




Nov. 20

Discussion Themes:   Agricultural Technologies

Individual Projects - Lab Work, Individual Meetings


(1) Review Miller, section 2 of Ch. 5 (Innovation & Labor)

(2) Reddy (1997) - harvesting

(3) Foxhall (1998) - use of byproducts

(4) Erickson (2006)- field &water systems

Nov. 27

Discussion Themes:  Defining the Study of Technology; Technological Systems; Importance of Studying Technology




(1) Miller, Ch. 7; review Ch. 1

(2) Kingery, W.D (1993)

(3) Skibo & Shiffer (2001)

(4) Bleed (2001)

(5) Franklin (1992[1990]): pp. 11-35, 55-75.

Dec. 4

Remaining PRESENTATIONS in class


PAPER DUE  by Dec. 15, 3 pm (Friday)



Allen, Peter M., 1989.  Modelling innovation and change.  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. 258-280.


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.


Dobres, Marcia-Anne & Christopher R. Hoffman. 1995. Social Agency and the Dynamics of Prehistoric Technology.  Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 1(3):211-258.  (Important Reference, not assigned;  Also see the 1999 volume edited by the same authors, The Social Dynamics of Technology.  Blackwell.)


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.


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. 


Friedel, Robert, 1993. Some Matters of Substance, In:  Steven Lubar & W. David Kingery (eds),  History From Things: Essays on Material Culture. Washington DC:  Smithsonian Institution Press. Pp.  41-50.


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


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


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


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.


Kingery, W. David.  1993. Technological Systems and some Implications with Regard to Continuity and Change, In:  Steven Lubar & W. David Kingery (eds)  History From Things: Essays on Material Culture. Washington DC:  Smithsonian Institution Press. Pp. 215-230.


Lawrence, Denise L. and Setha M. Low,  1990.  The Built Environment and Spatial Form.  Annual Review of Anthropology 19: 453-505.


Macaulay, David, 1973.  Cathedral.  The Story of Its Construction.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Company.


Macaulay, David. 1975.  Pyramid.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Company.


Maquet, Jacques.  1993.  Objects as Instruments, Objects as Signs, In:  Steven Lubar & W. David Kingery (eds).  History From Things: Essays on Material Culture. Washington DC:  Smithsonian Institution Press. Pp. 30-40


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


McGlade, James & Jacqueline M. McGlade. 1989.  Modelling the innovative component of social change.  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. 281-299.

Reddy, Seetha Narahari.  1997If 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-systemes de l'Indus.  Paris: Editions 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.


Russell, Nerissa.  2001.  Neolithic Relations of Production: Insights from the Bone Tool Industry. In: Crafting Bone: Skeletal Technologies through Space and Time.  Choyke, Alice M. and Laszlo Bartosiewicz, eds. BAR International Series 937. Oxford: Archaeopress. pp. 271-280.


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


Shennan, Stephen. 1989.  Cultural transmission and cultural change.  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. 330-346.


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.


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)


Spratt, D.A. 1989.  Innovation theory made plain.  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. 245-257.


Szabo, Albert and Thomas J. Barfield.  1991.  Extracts from  Afghanistan: An Atlas of Indigenous Domestic Architecture.  Austin:  University of Texas Press.  Pp. 1-10 (Introduction, Methodology, Historical background) & pp. 91-110 (Rectangular huts & Ovate-Oblong Huts).


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.


van der Leeuw, Sander E., 1989.  Risk, perception, 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. 300-346.


van der Leeuw, Sander E.  1993.  Giving the Potter a Choice:  Conceptual aspects of pottery techniques.  In Pierre Lemonnier (ed.), Technological Choices: Transformation in material cultures since the Neolithic.  London & NY: Pp. 238-288.


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.)


Wright, Rita P., 2002.  Revisiting Interaction Spheres - Social Boundaries and Technologies on Inner and Outermost Frontiers.  Iranica Antiqua 37: 403-417.





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,


Roman City.  1995.  PBS Home Video.  Based on the book City.  A Story of Roman Planning & Construction by David Macaulay.  60 min.  ISBN:  0780611357  (Available at St. Michael's Library, U of T).


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