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The Archaeology of the Sesse Islands and Their Contribution to the Understanding of Great Lakes Ceramics

Amin, SL; (2015) The Archaeology of the Sesse Islands and Their Contribution to the Understanding of Great Lakes Ceramics. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The Sesse Islands within the north-eastern sector of Lake Victoria are of particular interest due to their role as a centre of cult practices as recounted in multiple oral and historic traditions. Their interactions with the mainland may be examined through archaeological remains on the islands and the surrounding lakeshore, with ceramics forming the main corpus of material data. Yet despite this privileged social role there has been a lack of any substantive research except on the largest island, with the mainland lakeshore being subject to extensive ceramic analysis in recent decades. Previous archaeological research in the Great Lakes region of East Africa has been heavily reliant on ceramic chronologies derived from a ‘type-variety’ method of analysis. It is argued here that this approach is flawed, and that a more replicable and comparative method is required. With successful applications elsewhere on the continent, ‘attribute-based’ analysis meets such criteria. The Sesse archipelago offers a forum of new ceramic information through which to test applications of this new approach to pottery analysis. Field research for this thesis took place on three of the islands and has identified a number of ceramic-rich sites. A new analysis of these ceramics is presented in this thesis, which not only calls into question the continued use of broad descriptive typological categories such as ‘Urewe Ware’, but also offers a direct dating of excavated ceramics using the new OSL method for the first time in the Lake Victoria basin. The results highlight clusters of attributes in the data suggesting patterns of shared and unique ceramic expression within and between the islands sites and the mainland. These shared traditions frame a scenario of aquatic trade within the lacustrine landscape, with certain ceramic traits manifesting localised cultural identity at a time of increased interaction.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Archaeology of the Sesse Islands and Their Contribution to the Understanding of Great Lakes Ceramics
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Ugandan archaeology, Sesse Islands
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470168
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