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The Arctic Cooking Pot: Why Was It Adopted?



ABSTRACT  Cross-culturally, clay cooking pots are correlated with societies situated in warm and dry climates and reliant on foods that benefit from prolonged moist cooking. Neither of these conditions, however, characterized the aboriginal coastal Arctic, where clay cooking containers were produced and used for more than 2,500 years. We explore the factors that encouraged pottery use in the Arctic and conclude that the adoption of cooking pots resulted from the interplay of social and functional factors. We propose that it was adopted (1) to meet the needs of socially constructed preferences for cooked foods and (2) to overcome specific problems associated with other cooking methods within the local social and environmental context. We demonstrate the importance of adopting an integrated perspective in the study of technology—one that considers how cultural values and social practices interact with environmental and economic factors to shape technological decisions.

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