Mobility and Identities: The Case of the So-Called African Pots from Lisbon (Portugal)

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Archaeological excavations conducted in Lisbon and nearby cities have yielded a significant amount of a type of pottery from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century contexts not made in Europe. These bear characteristics allowing them to be associated with African or Brazilian productions and probably used by African populations. Although generally absent from the archaeological record, accounts from the mid-fifteenth century onwards note the presence of African people in Portugal, most as slaves. Materially speaking, however, it has always been assumed that they adapted to using local material culture, hence the lack of archaeological evidence marking them as distinct groups. However, the non-European pots discussed here reveal extensive wear marks and are found associated with domestic contexts. Most slaves worked in such contexts, as borne out by the historical evidence. The purpose of this paper is to start a discussion on the ways which these objects could have been used by non-Europeans in Portugal and how they reflect the presence of African populations with a specific identity and distinct social practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-94
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal Of Historical Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2019


  • Identity
  • Portugal
  • Mobility
  • Lisbon
  • Pottery
  • African
  • Slaves


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