Pottery Technology

Raqchi, pottery firing
Forming the base of pottery

The study of ancient pottery technology uses analytical methods to characterise the composition of pottery fabrics, identify forming techniques, reconstruct firing conditions and assess vessel function in order to inform theories about past social and economic organisation. This research network uses collaborative work to reconstruct ceramic technology with the aim of improving and disseminating appropriate analytical techniques and enhancing theoretical debate.

The Institute’s excellent analytical facilities and diverse ceramic collections already support a lot of research on ceramic technology, and this network aims to encourage and extend that research through occasional meetings to discuss ongoing work.

A major aim of the network is to develop a book and online manual that explains the application of analytical methods through relevant case studies. This manual is intended for students and pottery analysts, presenting a wide range of techniques that can be used to make and study ancient pottery. It will examine the preparation of the fabric as well as the forming, firing and use of the vessels. Access to ethnographic and experimental work as well as the archaeological collections of UCL will be used to create a fully illustrated manual showing how a variety of different techniques from simple visual observation, through petrography and compositional analysis to the use of the SEM can all contribute to the recovery of ancient ceramic technology.

The book is partly modelled on the two Masters courses (Interpreting Pottery and Archaeological Ceramics Analysis) that are taught at the Institute of Archaeology, and could be seen as an up-date of Owen Rye’s (1981) excellent “Pottery Technology”, incorporating advances in analytical techniques and theoretical approaches and with more detailed illustrations.

Related outputs

  • A book and online manual will be developed (see details above).


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