Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Kostalena Michelaki




This thesis investigates how potters from the Fonger site, a Neutral Iroquoian village near Brantford, made their ceramic vessels. My goal is to understand how a given environment, raw material properties, vessel function and a particular social context all came together to influence the potters' choices. I do this by identifying the choices potters made throughout the manufacture of ceramic pots, from the raw materials selection and preparation, to vessel formation and finish, decoration, firing and use, through the combination of a raw materials survey and experimental projects with macroscopic, petrographic and x-ray diffraction analyses and re-firing tests.

Each step in the operational sequence exhibited a different number of choices. The reasons why Fonger potters do things one way and not another seem to be more a reflection of social guidelines, of how a vessel should be made, rather than a reflection of distinct functional or mechanical requirements of their vessels.

There are several interesting conclusions from this research, including the identification of the raw materials from which shell-tempered vessels were made as well as the steps in the operational sequence that were socially directed and those that allowed potters more freedom of choice. I demonstrate that more micro-scale studies of ceramic manufacture at the village level give us a more nuanced understanding of how potters and ceramics fit into the daily lives of the Neutral people.

McMaster University Library

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