The UMMAA is pleased to present Daniel Wilcox, a PhD student at The University at Albany of the State University of New York, who will speak on Friday, October 14, 12-1 p.m., as part of the online UMMAA Brown Bag Lecture Series. He will discuss his research on the decline of soapstone vessels and the adoption of pottery for cooking at the end of the Late Archaic (5,000 BP to 3000 BP) and into the Early Woodland Period (3,000 BP to 2,000 BP). The reasons for this change in cooking technology have been debated by scholars. Several hypotheses have been put forward, which consider factors such as change in diet, vessel characteristics, and vessel production. However, very few experimental studies have assessed the physical processes involved in the production and use of soapstone bowls compared to early clay vessels. Here, to better understand this change in cooking technology and generate comparative data, an archaeological experiment was conducted that involved the replication of vessels made from soapstone and natural clay. Thermal properties, including heat retention, transfer, and thermal shock resistance, were examined by heating the two vessel types over an open fire in a cooking experiment. This study provides insight regarding the replacement of soapstone vessels with those made of clay during the Early Woodland Period and provides new information regarding the costs and benefits for each technology.
The Museum’s Brown Bag Lecture Series is free and open to the public.