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Asymmetry and Allometry

Much like the study of shape and form, my efforts to study asymmetry in ceramics began by taking a much closer look at the literature. This approach helps to identify key publications, practitioners, and approaches used across all disciplines.

asymmetry, geometric morphometrics, network, bibliometrics, scientometrics, network analysis, social network analysis, interactive network
Geometric morphometric studies of asymmetry.

The degree to which studies of asymmetry and allometry might better demarcate between elements of elite and commoner production strategies remains unknown; however, it may be possible to leverage morphological components from ceramics with known cultural associations (i.e., elite, commoner, etc.) to elaborate upon differential production strategies and manufacturing processes. For instance, should a higher degree of symmetry be found to correlate with elite burials or ceremonial contexts, and not with those contexts associated with Caddo commoners, arguments for the attractiveness of asymmetry, size, shape, and form for specific elements might be more gainfully argued in concert with the associated qualitative attributes. The notion of attractiveness in this context could help us to better couch our ideas related to the Caddo ceramic economy.

The combination of analytical data for rotational asymmetry and a landmark-based approach for a single Caddo vessel.

Outcomes of asymmetry analyses have implications for the organization of craft production, to include explanations of technological varieties, which inform upon basic tenets of the local economy. This method may also prove fruitful in addressing variable asymmetries of coil- and wheel-built vessels, helping to further refine our ideas associated with variable ceramic manufacturing practices and processes.


Of the numerous important attributes used by archaeologists, allometry (or variation in size) ranks very highly–and is also a regularly-employed component of geometric morphometric analyses. The incorporation of allometry helps to clarify the role of artifact size with specific attributes of artifact shape, form, and asymmetry.

Correlation of artifact shape and size.

It will be interesting to explore (when all scans are complete, and types are taken into consideration) whether there are similar trajectories (parallelism), whether those trajectories end in similar points (convergence), or whether they start in similar and end in different points (divergence).