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.
- A book and online manual will be developed (see details above).
- A one day workshop exploring principles and applications of x-ray
diffraction of archaeological ceramics and clay will be held at the
Institute on 6 November 2014.