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.

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

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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