An archaeology of anthropomorphism
Upping the ontological ante of Alfred Gell’s anthropology of art through a focus on making
in Images in the making
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This chapter addresses the question of how to best explain anthropomorphic and zoomorphic forms in the La Candelaria ceramic pot corpus from first millennium CE north-west Argentina. It is argued that a formal analysis of the ceramics along the lines proposed by Alfred Gell in his analysis of Marquesan visual art has the potential to reveal underlying conceptual principles that motivated their production. The claim is further made that it is through a focus on the making of the ceramic forms that these conceptual worlds can be accessed through the ceramics. A preliminary analysis of the pots suggests a consistent concern with particular volumes and their transformation, as well as an emphasis on the point of contact where two volumes come together. Ultimately, ‘anthropomorphism’ can be understood as less a descriptive term and more a conceptual placeholder for the potential of the La Candelaria ceramics to reveal alternative worlds of bodies and pots.

Images in the making

Art, process, archaeology


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