Free eBook: Marcos Martinón-Torres (ed.) – Craft and Science: International Perspectives on Archaeological Ceramics

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UCL Qatar Series in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage
ISSN: 2312-5004
Volume 1

Craft and science: International perspectives on archaeological ceramics

Edited by Marcos Martinón-Torres

ISBN: 978-9927-101-75-5

Foreword (selection)

Ceramics are among the most abundant materials recovered in archaeological sites. Traditionally, they have served as the main staple for archaeologists to establish chronological sequences within sites and cultural affiliations between sites. They are also a primary source for a wealth of information about past economies, social structures and ritual behaviour. In addition, ceramics preserve in their bodies the traces of countless forms of experimentation, knowledge transmission, technical ingenuity and artistic sensitivity, transcending the boundaries between art, craft and science both in their original production, and in their current study.

As a sustained area of research, the study of ceramics has historically served as a prime arena for innovation, both through the pioneer application of instrumental analyses and as a core foundation and testing ground for influential archaeological theories. Inevitably, some research methods are well-established in some regions, whereas they are still emerging in others. Also the integration between science-based approaches and archaeological theory is uneven. However, emerging academic traditions, and those in less-resourced regions, should not be overshadowed by the more established paradigms. While it is impossible to keep up with all the work carried out on archaeological ceramics worldwide, it is essential that researchers continue to exchange and compare their methods, results and ideas, and that these are made available to a broader archaeological readership.

This book aims to facilitate this exchange and update of information on diverse approaches to archaeological ceramics across much of the world.

About the Editor

Marcos Martinón-Torres is Professor of Archaeological Science at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, where he co-ordinates an MSc in the Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials and supervises several research students working on ancient materials and technologies across the world. His research interests include material culture and technology, the applications of science to archaeological problems, and the interplay between archaeology, anthropology, science and history. Ongoing projects focus on Renaissance alchemy in Europe, Pre-Columbian metallurgy in America, and the logistics behind the making of the Chinese Terracotta Army.


Foreword –  PDF
Pots as signals: Explaining the enigma of long-distance ceramic exchange –  PDF
Lessons from the Elephant’s Child: Questioning ancient ceramics –  PDF
Inferring provenance, manufacturing technique, and firing temperatures of the Monagrillo ware (3520–1300 cal BC), Panama’s first pottery –  PDF
The use of andesite temper in Inca and pre-Inca pottery from the region of Cuzco, Peru –  PDF
50 left feet: The manufacture and meaning of effigy censers from Lamanai, Belize –  PDF
Molding the ‘collapse’: Technological analysis of the Terminal Classic molded-carved vases from Altun Ha, Belize –  PDF
Ceramic technology and the global world: First technological assessment of the Romita ware of colonial Mexico –  PDF
Pottery production in Santa Ponsa (Majorca, Spain) from the Late Bronze Age to the Late Iron Age (1100–50 BC): Ceramics, technology and society –  PDF
Archaeometric investigation of Punic lamps from Ibiza (Balearic Islands, Spain) –  PDF
Ceramic technology between the Final Bronze Age and the First Iron Age in NE Italy: The case of Oppeano (Verona) –  PDF
Hispanic terra sigillata productions documented on the Catalan coast: Some unexpected results and new issues –  PDF
The ways of the lustre: Looking for the Tunisian connection –  PDF
Capodimonte porcelain: A unique manufacture –  PDF
Late Neolithic pottery productions in Syria. Evidence from Tell Halula (Euphrates valley): A technological approach –  PDF
Assyrian palace ware definition and chaîne opératoire: Preliminary results from Nineveh, Nimrud, and Aššur –  PDF
Messages impressed in clay: Scientific study of Iron Age Judahite bullae from Jerusalem –  PDF
The geochemistry and distribution of Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic wares of the territory of ancient Sagalassos (SW Turkey):
A reconnaissance study –  PDF
The colour and golden shine of early silver Islamic lustre –  PDF
Experiments with double chamber sunken up-draught kilns –  PDF
Petro-mineralogical and geochemical characterisation of Middle Neolithic Bükk Culture fine ware from Garadna, NE Hungary –  PDF
Archaeometric investigation of Celtic graphitic pottery from two archaeological sites in Hungary –  PDF
Archaeometric investigation of Buda white ware (12th–14th century AD, North Hungary): Initial questions and first results –  PDF
The ceramic technology of the architectural glazed tiles of Huangwa Kiln, Liaoning Province, China –  PDF
Parallel developments in Chinese porcelain technology in the 13th – 14th centuries AD –  PDF
Luminescence dating of ceramic building materials: application to the study of early medieval churches in north-western France and south-eastern England –  PDF
Computerised documentation of painted decoration on pottery vessels using 3D scanning –  PDF
Insights into manufacturing techniques of archaeological pottery: Industrial X-ray computed tomography as a tool in the examination of cultural material –  PDF
Thermal shock resistance of tempered archaeological ceramics –  PDF
The second life of ceramics: a new home in a lime environment –  PDF

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SAA November 6 Online Seminar Now Open

Please direct all replies to

Back by popular demand — a  free , 2-hour class taught by former SAA President Fred Limp!

New developments in technologies for the measurement of form and space in archaeology: An introduction for students.  This online workshop is free to SAA members and will be taught by Dr. Fred Limp, RPA. Dr. Limp has been involved in the application of geomatics methods to archaeology for more than three decades. He was the founder and director of the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies for 18 years, and has taught numerous undergraduate and graduate and short courses on the topic.

Exactly 60 years ago Gordon Willey famously stated that the objectives of archaeology are “approached by the study and manipulation of three basic factors: form, space and time.” Since then we have seen the huge impact that improved technologies for the measurement of time have had on the field. We are currently in the midst of a similar revolution in the methods for the measurement of space and form. The workshop is designed as an introduction to these developments – providing an accessible review of the characteristics and uses of such methods as high-resolution GNSS, “laser scanning,” close range photogrammetry and related methods for the measurement of space and form of landscapes, sites, structures and objects.

Course: New developments in technologies for the measurement of form and space in archaeology: An introduction for students.

Instructor: Dr. Fred Limp, RPA

Date: November 6, 2014

Time: 2:00-4:00 PM EST

Space is limited and seats fill up quickly. Register today at

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Archaeology for the People: The Joukowsky Institute Competition for Accessible Archaeological Writing — Deadline September 1, 2014

Archaeology for the People:

The Joukowsky Institute Competition for Accessible Archaeological Writing

As archaeologists, we write for each other in journal articles, book chapters, monographs, and other forums, using language that makes sense to fellow members of the profession. Yet the results of archaeological discovery and analysis are important and deserve the widest possible audience: archaeology has momentous findings to report, and for the periods before written history stands as the only source of evidence we have for the human condition.

We believe that archaeology is worthy of a better level of writing, one that is accessible and exciting to non-specialists, but at the same time avoids excessive simplification, speculation, mystification, or romanticization. Some of the most effective writing in this vein has appeared not in professional venues, but in publications with a far wider readership. As just one example, we would cite Elif Batuman’s article inThe New Yorker Magazine (December 19, 2011) on the Göbekli Tepe site in Turkey, and the many fundamental questions it raises about religion, technology, and human social evolution.

We therefore propose a competition for new archaeological writing, which anyone may enter. We invite the submission of accessible and engaging articles, accompanied by a single illustration and with no scholarly apparatus, that showcase any aspect of archaeology of potential interest to a wide readership. As an incentive, we offer a prize of $5,000 to the winner. The prize-winning article, together with those by eight to ten other meritorious entries, will be published in Spring 2015 in a volume of the Joukowsky Institute Publication series (published and distributed by Oxbow Books).

For more information about this competition, and to view the rules, please go to:

Questions concerning the competition should be directed to Prof. John Cherry ( and Prof. Felipe Rojas (

 Please help circulate this notice as widely as possible.

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Call for Volunteers: The Day of Archaeology 2014 on Friday 11 July!

The Day of Archaeology 2014 is coming!

The Day of Archaeology 2014 will be held on Friday 11 July!

Register now to contribute your own posts, or visit the website on Friday to read about how archaeologists around the world are spending their day.


We are looking for people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeological world to participate with us in a “Day of Archaeology” in July 2014.  The resulting Day of Archaeology website will (and already does!) demonstrate the wide variety of work our profession undertakes day-to-day across the globe, and help to raise public awareness of the relevance and importance of archaeology to the modern world. We want anyone with a personal, professional or voluntary interest in archaeology to get involved, and help show the world why archaeology is vital to protect the past and inform our futures.

How You Can Help

We are looking for archaeologists who are able to document their day and send it to us to publish here on the Day of Archaeology website. You can do this through any medium that you are comfortable with, be it writing, filming, recording or photographing your day.

If you can’t make the date in July 2014, you can still contribute up to a week before or after the Day of Archaeology itself.  If you would like to take part but don’t feel confident writing a blog or uploading photos, audio or film, please get in touch with us at the email address below, and we will help.

How to Sign Up

You can register your interest and email address through our Eventbrite page.  We’ll then contact you nearer the time with log-in details and passwords, as well as further instructions on how to participate.

You can also find out more about exactly what to do for the blog on the ‘Contributors Guidelines‘ page.

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Postdoctoral Fellowships in Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University — Deadline March 31, 2014

Postdoctoral Fellowships in Archaeology and the Ancient World

Brown University, Providence, RI

The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University invites applications from exceptional junior scholars who have demonstrated a capacity for innovative research and cross-disciplinary thinking.

We seek candidates who best augment or complement the present strengths of the Joukowsky Institute community.  We are particularly interested in individuals working in four spheres: 1) visual culture; 2) archaeologies of gender; 3) public archaeology; 4) the archaeology and art of the ancient Asian world.

In addition to pursuing their research, successful candidates will be expected to teach half time — i.e., one course per semester.  Teaching may be at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; interdisciplinary offerings are desirable.  Applicants must normally have received their Ph.D. from an institution other than Brown within the last five years.  Successful candidates will be expected to make substantive contributions to the ongoing development of the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, such as the organization of reading or working groups, a topical symposium, or another project intended to foster a stimulating intellectual environment in which to pursue research and to develop new interdisciplinary connections.  This will be a one-year position, with the possibility of a one-year renewal, beginning on August 1, 2014.

All candidates should submit a letter of application, short descriptions of 3-4 proposed courses, and curriculum vitae by March 31, 2014.  Applicants should arrange for three letters of reference to be submitted by the application deadline. Applications received by March 31, 2014 will receive full consideration, but the search will remain open until the position is closed or filled.

Please submit application materials online at

For further information:
Professor Susan E. Alcock
Chair, Search Committee
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912

Brown is an EEO/AA employer.  Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.

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