Opendata, web and dolomites


Individual Variations and Cultural Evolution: The pottery wheel-throwing skill as a case study

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 SKILL project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the SKILL project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "SKILL" about.

direct    skilled    material    individuals    experiment    biology    mechanisms    develops    skills    complement    genetic    inspiring    surrounding    inter    experimental    observation    dataset    generations    positions    expert    precise    model    forces    younger    apprentice    models    behavioral    influence    india    point    nepal    human    view    questions    shapes    traits    participate    learning    crossroad    selective    transmission    operate    channeled    idiosyncratic    ethnology    novices    ethology    sciences    profiles    divergences    identification    throwing    strictly    reproducing    elicited    wheel    artifacts    skill    anthropology    movement    pots    behavior    differential    pottery    successive    coordinates    archaeology    adapts    claims    practicing    tutor    individual    themselves    lacks    both    shown    evolve    cultural    collected    variations    social    xy    style    nature    laos    hypothesis    motor    potters    transmitted    assume    peers    france    culture    causing    transmit    evolution   

Project "SKILL" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: LONDON
postcode: WC1E 6BT
website: n.a.

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Total cost 183˙454 €
 EC max contribution 183˙454 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2017
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-EF-CAR
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-10-01   to  2020-09-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON UK (LONDON) coordinator 183˙454.00


 Project objective

Both genetic and cultural human traits evolve through the successive mechanisms of: production of variations, transmission of variations, and differential selection of variations. From a behavioral point of view, individuals learn cultural traits channeled by social models and they participate themselves to transmit these traits to their peers and to the younger generations. How much are the cultural traits influence by the individual’s own style and his social surrounding? How individual variations lead to cultural divergences? The SKILL project addresses these issues, focusing on individuals practicing the pottery wheel-throwing. I will analyse an existing experimental dataset (collected with expert potters in France, India, and Nepal) and I will set up a new field experiment in Laos with expert potters and their novices. I will analyse both the behavior (hand positions) and its material consequences (xy coordinates of the pots’ profiles) with methods (inspiring from the ethology and the biology) allowing precise identification of the individual variations. Because motor learning of cultural skills does not result from strictly reproducing a model but rather as a behavior elicited by the observation of a model, I assume that the apprentice adapts the motor skill shown by his tutor. The adaptation hypothesis claims that apprentice develops idiosyncratic motor skill leading to inter-individual variations of the traditional shapes. Some of these variations can be transmitted and different selective forces can operate on them causing the evolution of the traditional shapes. At the crossroad of archaeology, anthropology, movement sciences, and ethnology, the SKILL project addresses the questions of the transmission and the evolution of the human material (artifacts) and non-material (motor skills) culture. It will complement existing work on pottery which still lacks direct insight into the nature of the skilled work required to produce them.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Enora Gandon, Valentine Roux
Cost of motor skill adaptation to new craft traits: Experiments with expert potters facing unfamiliar vessel shapes and wheels
published pages: 229-239, ISSN: 0278-4165, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2019.01.004
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 53 2019-05-08

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The information about "SKILL" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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