One of the youngest fields in Aegean pottery analysis, and also one of the fastest-growing, is that concerning the pottery of the periods following the end of the Roman Empire, pottery that in its earlier phases was long poorly understood and little studied, and in its recent phases (as we approach the present) all too often wrongly regarded as not even a worthwhile object of archaeological attention. KIP has adopted a different philosophy. It fully embraces the challenge of taking ceramic analysis right through Byzantine and Venetian Kythera, and up to the production, usage and discard patterns of 19th and 20th century communities, at which juncture two additional sources of information can be added: local potters' ancestral knowledge, and, of course, the intact pots of this date that still survive in family houses and local collections.
Altogether, this pottery can act as an invaluable foil and accompaniment to the textual record for Byzantine, Venetian and more recent Kythera. Understanding of the earlier phases remains embryonic, but three examples from Late Venetian and Recent times illustrate the potential. The first is from the vicinity of Avlemonas, identified by early travellers as one of the island's principal ports after antiquity. Pottery can tell us when Avlemonas began to operate, what range of pottery arrived (in terms of its pan-Mediterranean origins, and also of the functions of the pots involved, e.g. storage jars, cooking pots, pithoi or eating/serving ware), and when trading activity declined. The second example involves the question of the dating of, and activities that took place at, the countless small rural structures that appeared in the Kytheran landscape during the past few centuries, and prior to the present abandonment of farming on the island. The textual and ethnographic record suggests a complex range of possibilities, such as occasional use, seasonal residence or pioneer settlement; the pottery from such locales can play a part in choosing between such options. A third example, given the ubiquity of recent pottery across a large proportion of the landscape, including remote areas, is the contribution that such material can make to the long-standing debate concerning the significance of 'off-site' data at different periods of the past, through examination of the ranges of shapes, functions and discard patterns associated with different kinds of topography, land-use and distance from habitation.
This last point prompts a final note: since there is considerable overall stability in the basic settlement pattern on Kythera through the more recent centuries, and also increasingly abundant archival and architectural evidence to be integrated into the picture, the designation of 'sites' for the post-Roman periods is still a matter of debate within KIP, and site numbers for these periods are accordingly not yet provided.