Last weekend the archaeology department at the University of Southampton hosted the Insight from Innovation: New Light on Archaeological Ceramics conference. In recognition of contributions to the field by Prof. David Peacock, the conference comprised of a dynamic and thought-provoking set of papers, some of which paid homage to David and others that showcased new approaches and methods to the study of ceramic remains.
The conference kicked off on Friday evening with papers from keynote speakers Simon Keay, Roberta Tomber, Mike Fulford, Ian Whitbread and Peter Day. Each was a humble tribute to David’s past and continuing devotion to archaeological research. Throughout the evening it became clear the important and defining role that Southampton has played in the trajectory of ceramic studies and David’s part in it all.
Saturday and Sunday saw a shift in focus to the future of pottery-based research with the presentation of fresh theoretical approaches, methodologies and techniques. The speakers included not only archaeologists but a contemporary ceramic artist, a physicist and those involved in computational 3D modelling, demonstrating the field of ceramic studies as a growing arena for interdisciplinary interaction and integration.
The conference was a huge success. It acknowledged an individual who has perhaps without even realising it shaped several generations of archaeological practice and simultaneously created a platform for a new trajectory in pottery-based research. It reiterated what we’ve known all along – that pottery is a dynamic resource for archaeological insight. It became clear throughout the weekend that with the advent and development of new approaches it will continue to play a pivotal role in our narratives of the past.