Advances in the Method and Application of Ceramic Petrography: International Perspectives on Key Archaeological Questions Part II

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Over the last 30 years the archaeological application of petrographic analysis has gained methodological and theoretical traction. Ceramic petrography, in particular, has emerged as a key methodological tool because it provides insights into technological practice, the choice and manipulation of raw materials by ancient potters, and methods of forming and firing conditions. Petrography has the advantage of being a visual technique whose observations are easily combined with macroscopic study of fabric, form, and decoration. A holistic approach that combines such observation with chemical (e.g. INAA, ICP-MS, XRF), mineralogical (especially XRD), and microstructural (SEM) data, in addition to geological information provides a powerful analytical strategy for understanding the social, political, economic, and environmental contexts of ceramic production, distribution, and consumption. Such information is vital for developing robust interpretations of ancient social organization and change. We have invited a group of scholars whose work highlights advances in ceramic petrography for understanding, technological traditions and change, identity, ceramic production and exchange, migration, and the social context of consumption. Many of the papers highlight new methods for combining petrography with other analytical strategies to address social process. As such, the session provides an analytical exchange among researchers with diverse intellectual backgrounds and research interests.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-14 of 14)

  • Documents (14)

  • Arybolas, amphoras and Manteño Ordinario: The production and significance of Ecuadorian transport vessels (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Maria Masucci. Hector Neff.

    The late prehispanic coastal Ecuadorian societies subsumed as Manteño -Guancavilca, are imagined as seafarers of the Andean region. On balsa rafts they plied a coast dotted with ports; participants in a trading empire. This traditional model of political-economic integration is being challenged with emphasis on regional autonomy and ethnic diversity. It is proposed that the analysis of the "ordinary" Manteño -Guancavilca vessels can contribute to this debate. Large, coarse paste, roughened...

  • "A burden of one’s own choice is not felt": observing ceramic production technology, exchange and consumption in the Late Mycenaean Saronic Gulf. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only William Gilstrap. Peter M. Day.

    It is widely recognized that Mycenaean states varied in their structure and organisation, were linked to different types of crafting industries, a range of trade networks and a host of consumer preferences. The Saronic Gulf is a paradoxical space that physically separates Mycenaean geopolitical states/regions, while its waters facilitate the interregional movement of people, goods and ideas. The application of thin section petrography and INAA to observe the movement of pottery, the most...

  • Ceramic Petrography and Woodland Period Social Interactions in Florida and the Southeastern United States (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ann Cordell. Neill Wallis. Thomas Pluckhahn.

    Swift Creek Complicated Stamped pottery found throughout much of the lower Southeastern U.S. is arguably the premier material for the systematic study of Woodland interactions. The unique impressions of individual carved wooden paddles are often found on pottery at multiple sites, lending an unparalleled level of detail and spatial resolution to social connections. Furthermore, the distribution of vessels potentially reflects a broad range of interactive practices among a large proportion of...

  • Ceramic petrography, historical linguistics and the Bantu expansion: tracking the arrival of the first pottery-using peoples in northern Botswana (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Killick. Edwin Wilmsen.

    It may seem counterintuitive that colonists travelling substantial distances on foot into new territory should have carried ceramic vessels with them, but in some cases the evidence from ceramic petrography shows that they did. This case study examines the movements of the first pottery-using migrants into northern Botswana between the first and the fourth centuries CE. Southern Africa was the terminus of the long expansion of Bantu languages from their region of origin in present eastern...

  • Characterizing Eighteenth Century Technological Changes in Pawnee Pottery (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Donna Roper.

    The pottery produced by the Pawnee of the central Great Plains of North America underwent extensive modification in the eighteenth century. Although twentieth-century archaeologists described the "early" and "late" materials, they did not adequately characterize how Pawnee potters modified their craft in terms of vessel morphology or technological practice, nor did they consider pottery function. Thus, we have no satisfactory account of this change. Situated in the context of technological...

  • Cooking vessels of the early medieval village of Miranduolo, Tuscany: a petrographic study (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Veronica Testolini.

    Excavations at Miranduolo, Tuscany revealed a substantial Medieval settlement and castle, with a rich architectural and ceramic sequence from the 7th-13th century. The ceramic record is dominated by coarseware, mainly cooking pots, which offer a reliable indicator of date at the site, but also a window on everyday life, of choices regarding food preparation equipment. Petrographic analysis has been employed in order to understand if these coarsewares were produced by the village inhabitants for...

  • Crafting Choices: Neolithic – Early Helladic II Ceramic Production and Distribution, Midea, Mainland Greece (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Clare Burke. Peter Day. Eva Alram-Stern. Katie Demakopoulo.

    Forming part of a broader programme of macroscopic, petrographic, SEM, and NAA analysis of ceramics from Mainland Greece, this paper focuses on the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze II sequence at the site of Midea in the Argolid. Through investigating the technological variability present at Midea, our results suggest significant differences, and continuity, in technological choices over time. Most notable is the decline of grog temper between the Final Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods....

  • In the Land of Lava: Petrographic and Chemical Analysis of Pottery from El Malpais National Monument (2015)
    DOCUMENT Full-Text Mary Ownby. Lori Reed.

    Pottery found at four sites located in the eastern half of El Malpais National Monument offers significant clues into the importance of this area for the southern Chaco cultural extension. Further, the movement of pottery within the area is also significant as is information on local or non-local production. In order to begin to understand these issues, chemical and petrographic analysis was carried out on pottery mostly from the great house site of Las Ventanas. The Cibola White Ware, Socorro...

  • The Microscopy and Macroscopy of Islamic Lustre wares (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert Mason.

    Petrographic and SEM studies of the lustre-painted glazed pottery of the Islamic world between c. 700 and 1400 have defined an elite, high-technology ware made in few centres, at times only one centre for the entire Middle East; with a distribution network that spanned the Old World. Production centres such as Basra in Iraq, and al-Fustat in Egypt created some of the most advanced and influential ceramic types of the period, utilising technologies developed locally. But scientific laboratory...

  • Petrography of "Nderit" pottery from Pastoral Neolithic sites surrounding Lake Turkana in Kenya (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Edyta Marzec. Peter Day. Katherine Grillo.

    "Nderit" pottery is associated with the earliest pastoralists in eastern Africa, c. 4000-4500 bp. and is found at both settlement sites and ritual "pillar sites" surrounding Lake Turkana in northwestern Kenya. Several of the known megalithic "pillar sites" are large communal cemeteries and contain very large numbers of Nderit sherds, yet little research has been carried out on these ceramics in terms of their technology or provenance. Primary research questions concerning the early pastoralists...

  • Pottery Production in Anglo-Scandinavian Torksey (Lincolnshire): reconstructing and contextualising the chaîne opératoire. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gareth Perry.

    Ninth-century England witnessed major social upheaval. Viking armies moved throughout the north and east, towns flourished again for the first time since the Roman period, and land ownership was fundamentally transformed. Significant in the material record is a veritable revolution in pottery production; pottery was wheel-thrown, kiln-fired, and made on a near industrial scale. A number of production centres were established under a Viking elite hailing from regions characterised by...

  • Preliminary Petrographic Analysis of Ceramics from the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Panama (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Lawrence. Kathleen Marsaglia. Scott Fitzpatrick. Thomas Wake.

    Petrographic analysis of ceramic sherds can elucidate manufacturing techniques and exchange systems. We present the first mineralogical assessment via thin-section petrography of archeological ceramics collected from the Bocas del Toro province on the Caribbean coast of Panama. Examined sherds include surface finds collected from archaeological sites on Bastimentos Island and at Cerro Brujo on the mainland, and excavated samples from Sitio Drago, Isla Colon. Thin-section petrography of the...

  • Rojo Grafitado is not graphite. A slow-science interpretation of the production of an Andean ceramic style. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Isabelle Druc.

    Building upon the slow-science movement, and the work of Olivier Gosselain and others, this presentation examines how our understanding of ancient ceramic production depends upon the path a research may take. It argues for a re-articulation and re-evaluation of qualitative observation, small number of samples and quantitative data. The Rojo Grafitado case presented arose from research hazards, curiosity, and a regional perspective on ceramic production. During the first millennium B.C. in the...

  • Technological variability in ceramics of the Neolithic to Early Bronze Age transition at Phaistos, Crete: an integrated approach (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Roberta Mentesana. Peter M. Day. Vassilis Kilikoglou. Simona Todaro.

    Since the Final Neolithic, Phaistos hosted consumption events leaving deposits of pottery and animal bones, and was a pottery production location from at least the earlier phases of the Early Bronze Age (EBA). A recent re-examination of this important site has produced not only a Neolithic-EBA sequence unrivalled in Crete, but also a deep understanding of the ceramics, tracing change and continuity over this key time of transition, which some have seen as a transformation with an exogenous...