Image of the Day: Time Stamps

Archeologists study the fingerprints left on 1,000-year-old pottery to understand the artists’ contributions.

Jun 4, 2019
Chia-Yi Hou
Archeologists used these fingerprints found on fragments of 11th-century jars from the US Southwest to infer the sex of the potters by measuring the width between ridges. 

Archeologists studying pottery formed 1,000 years ago in New Mexico have gained insight to the community’s division of labor. The researchers inferred the sex of the potters that made the pieces, and report that both males and females were involved in pottery production. They found that this participation from men and women varied over time and also across social groups in the same community.

J. Kantner et al., “Reconstructing sexual divisions of labor from fingerprints on Ancestral Puebloan pottery,” PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1901367116, 2019.