Kythera Island Project


Principal Investigators:
Cyprian Broodbank (UCL)
Evangelia Kiriatzi (Fitch Laboratory, BSA)
Alan Johnston (UCL)
Clare Pickersgill (BSA)
Joanita Vroom (East Anglia)


KIP's programme of ceramic analysis has sought to integrate macroscopic study, petrography, experimental archaeology and geoarchaeological prospection (for potting resources) to provide a broad but detailed perspective on ceramic production and use on the island. It acts both as the backbone for our reconstruction of the island's long-term history and is also explored as an important component of the island's material culture in its own right. The menu above right offers additional information on different aspects of KIP ceramic research.

KIP surface pottery finds
The rough and the smooth of KIP surface pottery. Photography by C. Broodbank 1998

As in most Aegean surveys, pottery constitutes the vast majority of the material encountered on the surface. KIP pottery study considers two quite different types of survey assemblage: i) morphologically diagnostic sherds collected from all over the landscape during the tractwalking and ii) 'on-site' samples collected in most cases through gridding. These different collection parameters each offer their own peculiar problems and potentials for analysis.

In the case of the tract material, initial examination during or immediately after fieldwalking contributed to the process by which KIP's sites and second-stage site collection strategies were defined, as well as to preliminary site dating. Further systematic study of this pottery proceeds in the same way (with the same recording procedures: tract diagnostic sherd recording form) as diagnostic sherds from sites (see below). Such an approach pulls apart the overall impression of surface ceramic density suggested by tractwalking counts into more chronological specific patterns and is particularly useful for exploring the spatial distribution and varying character (e.g. with regard to shape, abrasion) of on-site, near-site and off-site distributions. By the end of the 2003 study season, ca.7500 individual diagnostic sherds have been recorded which represents perhaps three quarters of the apparent total (to be completed in 2004).

A two-stage system of processing has been adopted for the study of the site material. First, a bulk record of all the ceramic sherds collected from each grid square's vacuum circle is created quantifying information related to sherd size and abrasion, wall thickness and fabric (site bulk processing form). Second, individual sherds from the same unit (both the vacuum circle and the remainder of the square) that are diagnostic are recorded in much greater detail (site diagnostic sherd recording form). In combination, these two approaches aim to both express an accurate overall impression of the variation present within site collection units and to explore certain artefacts more comprehensively where they offer greater insight.

Back to Top Back to Top