Topic ID #30793 - posted 1/23/2014 6:47 AM



Most of the former excavations aimed to recover structures rather than artefacts and regarded pottery as entirely incidental; at best a few unusual or complete vessels might be illustrated. The Roman pottery did not become an integral part of publications of archaeological excavations until recent decades. The twentieth century's wider interest in social and economic aspects of the Roman Empire stimulated a more comprehensive approach to pottery. Nowadays everything found in an excavation should be recorded and published in detail. No modern excavation report is complete without detailed descriptions of wares and full catalogues of the precise numbers of pots found in each excavated contest.

The main goal of the project is to acquaint students with the basic methods of archaeological records of Roman pottery. We will examines how Romans used their pottery and the implications of these practices on the archaeological record. During the course participants will work with authentic Roman shards and will learn:

• The basic methods of archaeological records;

• The analytical techniques;

• How to render a pottery material into a systematic classification;

• How to make a technical drawing;

• How to use the graphic software and prepare the materials for publication;

• How to interpret the archaeological data.


The sherds first arrive in boxes from the excavation trenches and, after washing, must be divided into general categories which could be distinguished by assistants without detailed knowledge of Roman pottery: amphorae, fine wares, coarse wares, etc. Each of these categories must subdivide into specific wares. The pottery has to be sorted in order to separate out diagnostic sherds, notably rims, in order to group them by form and fabric. The diagnostic forms have to be arranged into typological order within each fabric according to their shapes. All categories are count and weighed to provide a common basis for comparisons between different excavated contexts.

Analytical techniques

The course will focus on four principal objectives:

• To establish the mineral of a pot or ware, in order to find out where it was made or to distinguish between similar pots made in different places.

• To give detailed descriptions of characteristic wares, so the subsequent finds can be compared with them.

• To establish the clay preparation, surface treatments and firing conditions.

• To make interpretations about the production, trade and economics of pottery when its composition, origins and manufacturing processes are all understood.

Typology (Dating and Classification)

Typology is one of the most important developments in archaeology. Orderly classification would reveal the evolution of forms and styles of all kinds of artifacts, including pottery.


Students will be incorporated into a well-structured programme based on intensive practice on site in the mornings and laboratory work in the afternoons. Participants will learn how to document different archaeological structures, and how to clean, sort, draw and describe excavated material.


Affiliation: RSF Archaeological Trust, Archaeological museum of Plovdiv.

 Director of the excavations: Assos. Prof. Dr. Elena Kisiakova.  Archaeological museum of Plovdiv.

Session dates:

Session 1: August 9 - August 23, 2014

Session 2: August 23 - September 6, 2014

Application Deadline: April 30, 2014

Minimum age: 18;

Minimum length of stay: One session - 14 days;

Number of places available: 8;

Language: English;

Experience required: None;

Admission fee: Full session `4 days - 1325 EUR

20 % discount is available for application received before January 31, 2014 and 10% off will receive applicants till February 28, 2014

 Field school web-site:

 Contact e-mail:


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