Monday, December 17, 2007

Don't Buy This Book

PDQ SubmissionAs I've mentioned before, Billur Tekkök and I are editing the digital publication Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia). I'll talk about our work as part of the AIA panel "Web-Based Research Tools for Mediterranean Archaeology".

One point that I will stress is that we intend to deliver this information in whatever formats will be useful to users. Currently, this means the website, a PDF file released under a Creative Commons license, and as a bound volume available for purchase from It's pretty trivial to generate the PDF - which we produce so that users can take all our content into the field - and then upload it to Lulu, after which third parties can purchase a printed copy.

That last "format" brings me to the title of the post. Don't buy the bound version yet. I'm going to update it at least once before going to Chicago and, looking further out, our goal is to expand the content in time for the summer field season. This is all to say that the whole thing is a draft so there's no point in spending real money when you can get all the text and images for free.

If that's the case, why are we producing a bound version at all? At some point we'll freeze a first edition and submit it for review and encourage libraries to purchase it. There's still a role for a printed volume as an archival format and there are still times when it's convenient to have information available on the printed page; like when it's over 37 Celsius and you don't want to bring your computer outside into the heat and dust.

Information when you want it and how you want it is the model we're pursuing, even if that means using such old-school technologies as the printed book.

And one reason to buy now... if you'd like to see the quality of Lulu volumes. In general, I can say that the paper quality is good, text is sharp, but the image reproduction is only decent, though I think I can tweak the process to make the images more faithful to their original colors and quality.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ceramica in Italia

A version of the 1998 volume Ceramica in Italia. 6-7 secolo. Atti del convegno in onore di John W. Hayes : Roma, 11-13 maggio 1995 has long been available on the internet as a series of PDFs. I say a version because the pages in each file are unnumbered and some spelling errors were introduced into the text by the digital conversion process.

The location of these files has changed over time and they are now on the Portale di Archeologia Medievale of the Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti of the Università di Siena.

Despite its editorial shortcomings, it's worth having access to the digital version of this publication. But there is no direct link on the Siena website. Instead, you can use the following two curl commands to download the individual files:

curl -o vol1_#1.pdf[01-29].pdf

curl -o vol2_#1.pdf[01-26].pdf

[I'm sure some browsers will wrap these long lines or have other problems so make sure everything from 'curl' to 'pdf' is on one line when you paste each command into your shell.]

You'll end up with 55 PDFs in whichever directory you started the download.

The curl program should already be on your machine if you're running Mac OS X or another Unix-like OS. If not, it should be trivial to install it. A windows version is available from the curl download page.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Drapers Gardens Vessel Hoard

The Drapers Gardens, London find of copper-alloy vessels is of interest to ceramicists. Here's a picture:

The best summary of the whole site that I found is from the Pre-Construct Archaeology site. This is the private firm that actually did the digging. It looks like they've done a superb job.

As a little bit of an aside, I enjoyed the range of headlines given to the newspaper articles about this find. The following list is drawn from a search in Google news:

The last article, from the London Times Online, includes the following image (it's number 5 in the "slide show" at the top of the article):

The deposition of the vessel hoard is dated to after 375 AD by its stratigraphic position above two coins. That makes the metal vessel illustrated above a nice point of comparison with contemporary ceramics. Download this PDF from Lattara 6 and see forms 71 to 76 for African Red-Slip that shares the general idea of a more-or-less deep bowl with wide and more-or-less horizontal rim. Many of the ceramic vessels also have decoration on the outer edges of their rims.

It looks like the metal vessels from Drapers Garden trend larger than their ceramic analogs. That's nice because one can imagine them going well together on a table, though it's somewhat speculative to think that metal and ceramics were mixed when such dishes were laid out for a meal.

Metal in use by wealthier households and African Red-Slip more widely available to folks living somewhat near to the coast and/or a major trade route together led the way in establishing this part of the koine of late Roman table vessels. The general form was further spread by potters collectively less prolific than their North African colleagues. See the first entry in the publication of "Late Roman West Asia Minor 'Light Colored' Ware" at Ilion/Troy (with profile drawing and photograph below). That's an unwieldy name for an interesting ware that almost broke into the front ranks of the ceramic trade. For example, it's found in small amounts at Berenice in present day Libya. The example from Ilion shows the decorative rim edge, though in this instance the motif is not continuous. That's a common feature on ceramic vessels.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another source for online publications

I randomly stumbled across the downloadable publications page of the Centro para el Estudio de la Interdependencia Provincial
en la Antigüedad Clasica
. It's great and has many articles related to amphora production.

As an example of the high-quality of the available titles, I particularly note a rare online sighting of a JRA Supplement chapter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mediterranean Ceramics Reference Stability Report, Number 3

[Updated to confirm that no. 3 is still available and to fix the URL of no. 13.]

The MCRSR first appeared in October. For the third edition, I am once again making additions, nos. 13 and 14. Thirteen is an an inscribed pot published by the Inscriptions of Aphrodisias project. Fourteen is the XML version of the same. It will be interesting to see if one URL is more stable than the other. Gabriel Bodard suggested that I list this item.

I intend to get to 20 URLs total and am happy to consider other suggestions. Over the course of this month I am going to look for potential additions from North Africa, Eastern Europe, and the east coast of the Mediterranean.

There have been no changes to the 12 URLs listed last month. At the time of writing, I am unable to connect to the server at (no. 3 below) but this is probably due to a temporary glitch. I'll update this post when either I can get through or I determine that the resource is gone or has been moved.

1. Walters' Catalogue of the Roman Pottery in the Departments of Antiquities, British Museum from Google Books:

2. Robinson's Agora V from JSTOR:

3. Lattara 6:

4. K. Greene's AJA article on Early Roman lead glazed pottery:

5. Heath and Tekkök, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia):

6. Vessel from Çatalhoyuk (via Flickr):

7. A Late Minoan III Pyxis from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

8. An undocumented ARS Hayes 70 bowl from the dealer Classical Numismatics Group:

9. Fifteenth Century Mosque Lamp from Jerusalem now in the British Museum:

10. The Perseus Project Vase Catalog:

11. Wikimedia Commons Image of a Greek Geometric Skyphos in the Louvre:

12. Sagalassos from Pleiades:

13. Inscribed pot from Aphrodisias (HTML):

14. Inscribed pot from Aphrodisias (XML):

Sunday, December 2, 2007


PDQ SubmissionThe Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is clearly a leader in providing on-line access to its collection database. As of writing, descriptions of 339,125 "artworks" are searchable, out of a total estimated collection of 450,000 objects. Additionally, a high percentage of the records have images.

Enough of praise, now for some constructive criticism...

If one uses the 'keyword' field of the Advanced Search form to look for "african red slip", a list of 14 objects is returned. Clicking on the fourth item brings up a useful description of an ARS Hayes 53 plate of the fourth to early fifth century AD, an object purchased in 1989 but undocumented prior to that date (

The URL used to access the record is:

This string of characters is so long that nobody would use it as a fixed reference to that object in a publication. Rather, one would fall back on the scholarly practice of using "MFA 1989.690" and leave it up to the reader to track down the object. The MFA site makes this relatively easy in that the Advanced Search page has a field for accession number. If you enter "1989.690" in that field, you end up at a page with the URL:

Although this feature is undocumented, that URL can be shortened to:

That is a reasonable length and means that the MFA's own unique identifier for the object can be made actionable in a fairly clean manner. There is, however, a further issue. That URL does not lead to the full information and image for the object, only to an abbreviated list view. The shortest URL that I could compose to link to the full view was:

I don't know the semantics of the ID field, but it looks like a numeric primary-key imposed by the database system, one that is not otherwise publicly documented by the institution. This is my main criticism: the full information for is not directly accessible by its publicly documented unique identifier.

This may seem a subtle point, and I don't mean for it to distract from the obvious benefit provided by the MFA's efforts. But as we move towards an effective infrastructure for digital publication and scholarship, I would like to see URLs such as instantiated as valid links to useful information.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Remixing is Fun!

Here's a moonlit snapshot of me looking at my prize-winning entry in the Catalhoyuk Remixing Day Contest:

The whole day was a blast! There were two guided tours of the island and I went on one entirely and half of the second. It's a lot of fun to walk and fly around with a bunch of other avatars. There were also conversations around the campfire. Yes, the space is virtual, but the conversations are real (if still a little tentative). North America, Europe and Australia were represented among the groups that I spoke to. Again, very cool.

The OKAPI Team deserves a lot of credit for putting this together. Sure, the technology can be improved but they will be ready when it does get better and that is good for archaeology as a whole.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Second Life

As some of you may know, Wednesday is Remixing Catalhoyuk Day on the OKAPI Second Life island. There's a remixing contest at 5:00 PM PST and I made an entry. It doesn't have anything to do with ceramics right now, but SL holds potential for archaeological publication.

This post is by way of explanation and is linked from the two entrances....

"Burial Passage" intends to immerse users in images related to the excavation of the multiple burial below the NW platform of building 3. You can walk through it in either direction. I sort of like going uphill. The images at the two entrances are bookends. The central image showing excavation mediates between the two surrounding images.

I should also say that I'm trying to solve a practical issue here. SL can make it hard to orient yourself to images. I've tried to position the panels so that as you walk through them, their detail becomes apparent. Slow down as you go through and you'll see what I mean. You can also "move" up and down the passage with "mouselook". That works pretty well.

And there's an easter egg. Type '/1 start excavation' to make the panels disappear and re-appear in sequence. Actually, I had trouble with the sequencing but I think that's because of latency in my internet connection.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

SVG Diameter Chart

Last summer I needed a diameter chart in a pinch so I made one using SVG. I have added the svg source-file and a jpeg rendering to Nothing too fancy but perhaps useful if you don't have a chart at hand when the time comes to describe your sherds.

If you look at the SVG code itself, you'll see that I have placed the file in the public domain. I've used the language found on Wikimedia Commons, which I think should be sufficient to set this free. This means that you can make changes or do whatever you want to the file. If so inclined, send me any improvements with a statement that your work is in the public domain as well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Ceramic Typology for the Mediterranean

At, you'll see a *highly* experimental beginning of what will become a broad ceramic typology for the Mediterranean. That page links to individual pages for major categories with well known typologies. There is also a sylk-formatted spreadsheet of the whole typology available for download.

Think of this as a .01 release. If you look at the xhtml you'll see the beginnings of a bibliographic infrastructure that will be exposed soon. In general, the xhtml file will try to capture the inevitable and necessary complexity of current ceramic scholarship, while the spreadsheet will reduce this to a column-oriented format that is usable in existing database management systems.

Monday, November 19, 2007

LR Coarse Wares from the Athenian Agora

This is a great image of jugs from a well group:

The excavator dates the deposit to the "late 4th/early 5th AD." Similar pieces to the "gouged" jugs in the lower two rows are published from Agora V group M, e.g. Such "oblique gouging" continues into the 6th century, when Attic jugs of this type are available in Corinth (Slane and Sanders 2005:no. 2-16).

More Publication?

Chuck Jones of the Blegen Library at the American School in Athens left a comment to my post on publication trends. He usefully points to some encouraging developments in terms of institutions taking responsibility for digital publication of their own content.

I spoke of trends pointing in the wrong direction. With Chuck's comment in mind, I'll now rephrase and say we're probably closer to a tipping point than I implied. Here's more evidence of that. David Brown Books quoted me USD 200.00 for Catherine Abadie-Reynal's recent volume on the ceramics of Argos. That's a ridiculous amount and I look to basic economic self-interest on the part of libraries to be part of the solution to these high prices.

[As an aside, if you don't want to be tempted to spend such sums, don't read Chuck's posts about new acquisitions in Athens.]

To put it another way, what will lead to more scholarly impact? Continuing to publish at ever higher prices? Or using technology to cut out the cost of distribution. See this pot from Aphrodisias for an example of the latter. [HT: Gabriel Bodard]

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Scalable Vector Graphics

The digital publication of Greek, Roman and Byzantine pottery from Ilion that I'm working on with Billur Tekkök uses the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) standard to store profile drawings of the sherds it catalogs. SVG is an open format that relies on XML to represent curves, shapes and other useful drawing elements in a text-based format.

As a Mac user, I'm pleased that Safari 3, included in the latest version of OS X and in the most recent update to version 10.4, supports SVG. FireFox support has been around for a while, and I understand that Opera, Konqueror and some other browsers can also deal with SVG more-or-less directly. For its part, Internet Explorer can render SVG files using an Adobe plugin.

If you're using an SVG-capable browser, point it to to see a profile drawing of a late 4th/early 5th century AD African Red-Slip Hayes form 71 bowl. [For pictures of a similar piece, try] Depending on how you're viewing this file, you can zoom in on the image and it will retain its nice curves. Perhaps best of all, if you print it, the hard-copy version should be at one-to-one scale relative to the original and also smoothly rendered.

One file that gives you good looking profiles on screen and on paper? I think that's cool.

A technical note: Because not all browsers like SVG, GRBP Ilion currently converts its svg files to jpegs using the Batik SVG Toolkit from the Apache Foundation.


Two pretty recently published books that I consult with increasing regularity are Gundula Lüdorf's typology of Roman and Early Byzantine coarse wares from western Asia Minor and Dominique Pieri's discussion of the distribution of Late Roman Eastern Mediterranean Amphoras in Gaul, which also presents a useful typology that extends Riley's well-known LR series.

These two works indicate that our ability to categorize and compare a greater percentage of the pottery that we find on Mediterranean, and particularly Aegean, sites is only increasing. This is a good thing and, as works of scholarship, Lüdorf and Pieri's efforts show that trends are looking up.

Unfortunately, these books also show that trends are heading in the wrong direction when considered from the perspective of publication and distribution of such scholarship. The Lüdorf book costs USD 115.00 when purchased from David Brown. The Pieri volume is available for EUR 65.00 from Librairie Archéologique, my preferred source for French books that aren't on As of writing, that's approximately USD 220 for both books before shipping and handling. That amount of money will keep this important information out of many people's hands.

And there are further subtleties. I live in New York City and often use the Columbia Library, which is undoubtedly a first-rate research environment. Its online catalog indicates that the Lüdorf volume was received on February 14, 2007. The location of the book, however, is listed as "In preparation for Offsite". While I can't give specific dates, it has been this way since shortly after the book was received. Expensive books are going straight offsite. Something is broken with this system of publication. I know I'm not the first to say this and I'm sure I won't be the last.

A rhetorical question: is the price of their work or the storage policies of major libraries the fault of the authors? Not entirely. And not yet. I am not so naive as to rail against these two scholars for not choosing open access digital publication. But I do think the time is coming when authors will have to explain why they haven't made their scholarship available through such outlets as The Stoa Consortium or the Public Library of Science. And perhaps we can look forward to a future when work not published in similarly minded venues or otherwise at no cost to the reader doesn't count in professional evaluation procedures. It's a fair bet that universities, as evaluators of scholarship, will press for this, given that they are also bleeding money to buy books that they can't even efficiently distribute to their users.

To repeat what I said before, I know I'm not the first to say all this and I'm sure I won't be the last.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mediterranean Ceramics Reference Stability Report, Number 2

The MCRSR first appeared in October. For this second go-round I am adding two more resources, nos. 11 and 12. Eleven is an image from Wikimedia Commons, 12 is the entry for Sagallasos, an important Roman period production center, from the Pleiades digital atlas.

There have been no changes to the 10 URLs listed last month.

1. Walters' Catalogue of the Roman Pottery in the Departments of Antiquities, British Museum from Google Books:

2. Robinson's Agora V from JSTOR:

3. Lattara 6:

4. K. Greene's AJA article on Early Roman lead glazed pottery:

5. Heath and Tekkök, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia):

6. Vessel from Çatalhoyuk (via Flickr):

7. A Late Minoan III Pyxis from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

8. An undocumented ARS Hayes 70 bowl from the dealer Classical Numismatics Group:

9. Fifteenth Century Mosque Lamp from Jerusalem now in the British Museum:

10. The Perseus Project Vase Catalog:

11. Wikimedia Commons Image of a Greek Geometric Skyphos in the Louvre:

12. Sagalassos from Pleiades:

Friday, November 9, 2007

African Red Slip On Line

On a somewhat experimental basis, I have begun a page with links to examples of African Red-Slip at the website. It uses DNIDs to refer to the specific pieces.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Question About Images of Museum Objects

Museum visitors are increasingly bringing cameras into galleries, taking pictures and then publishing the resulting digital files under Creative Commons licenses or placing those files into the Public Domain.

An example: is a Middle Geometric (800–750 BC) Jug from Attica. The photographer of the image on the linked page is Marie-Lan Nguyen and many more examples of her work can be seen on Wikimedia Commons.

The page for her image of has the following text: "I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide."

This is fantastic and I'm happy to recognize Ms. Nguyen as a personal hero.

I did a little bit of looking on the Louvre website but didn't see any publicly available information about in-gallery photography. In contrast, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has an easy-to-find policy. It reads in part:

Still photography is permitted for private, noncommercial use only in the Museum's galleries devoted to the permanent collection. Photographs cannot be published, sold, reproduced, transferred, distributed, or otherwise commercially exploited in any manner whatsoever.

I am not a lawyer but it's not clear that the availability of this photo on flickr does not violate these terms. It's not commercial use but it is reproduction and/or distribution. The image is of the Met's Proto-Attic Neck Amphora by the Nettos Painter, one of its great treasures, and I'm particularly pleased to see it because I couldn't find a description of that object on the site. I.e., flickr-user mharrsch (aka Mary Harrsch) is filling a gap in the visual documentation of ancient Mediterranean material culture.

But can she do this? I'd love to know because I'd love to be confident that this and similarly produced images are going to remain available and that I and others really can download, store and reuse them for non-commercial purposes.

Friday, November 2, 2007

David Gill on Princeton and Italy

David Gill's Looting Matters blog has been providing excellent coverage of Princeton's agreement to return ownership of certain vases to Italy.

While you're there, be sure to click-through on the images as some of them are very high resolution.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lightweight IDs on the Internet

My colleague Neel Smith and I are working on a system of lightweight identification for digital objects on the internet. This post is a test of the system. Here is a link to a coin in the collection of the American Numismatic Society: There is an image of an amphora on its obverse so it's relevant to ceramics. The string "" is analogous to an abbreviation such as "ANS" that one might find in a traditional print publication. "1949.100.10" is the accession number. Together they form a unique id. To read more about Domain Name Identifiers (DNIDs), go to

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Good and Bad on the Internet

The internet is here to stay. That's not news and neither is the observation that an increasing amount of information about Mediterranean ceramics is coming online. So it's not just the fact that people are using the web that needs to be addressed, but also how they're using it.

Some current uses of the internet are to the clear detriment of the ongoing study of ceramics. As Nathan Elkins has been pointing out, the trade in undocumented antiquities is moving online and small sherds of ancient pottery and undecorated vessels are a regular part of this destructive commerce. Some examples:

Perhaps some will think that I shouldn't link to commercial sites. I do it to set up a further point. A Google query for '"Sarmatian Jar"' brings up only two links, the first to the Ancient Touch page, the second to another dealer.

While "Samartian Jar" is not a very likely search term, 'roman amphora ribbing' is slightly more plausible. Clicking on that link shows the Ancient Touch page in the number 4 slot - or at least it did when I tried, your results may vary. Fortunately, the two top slots are taken by Paul Tyers' excellent resources on Roman amphoras. My point, however, is that the internet is one place where the competition for the "hearts and minds" of the public is taking place. In this instance, professional archaeologists working to provide high-quality information on-line make out pretty well.

But things could be better. Note that it is the Ancient Touch page that offers the richest set of color images. Click through on the Pontic Amphoras at the top of the page and you'll see some of the best images of that ceramic type available anywhere, either on-line or in print. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that this page lists prices for these artifacts, it would stand out as a terrific resource. I take from this the point that ceramicists need to do a better job of providing high quality information on the web so that commercial sites move even further down Google's rankings.

And there is another issue to consider. When I clicked, just below the Ancient Touch link was another to a 1996 Britannia article on amphora inscriptions and legionary supply. Unfortunately, this article costs $12.00 to read. Sure, I have access to JSTOR through my academic affiliations, but most internet-users do not. This further suggests that the online commercialization of academic research puts archaeologists at a disadvantage when trying to make our case to the concerned public.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ceramics at the 2008 AIA/APA Meetings in Chicago

A preliminary program for the Archaeological Institute of America's Annual Meeting in Chicago this coming January is available at Judging from the titles and/or personal knowledge, the following papers and workshops look to have a substantial ceramics component:

Session: 2B: Greek Vase Painting
Timeslot: Friday, January 4, 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

  • A Corinthian Connection for Lakonian Porthole Compositions.
    Justin St. P. Walsh, Louisiana State University

  • Ceramic Workshops, Agoranomoi, and Pottery Trade in Olbia Pontica. Søren Handberg, University of Aarhus

  • The Looting, Excavation, and Findspot of the Penteskouphia Plaques. James Herbst, and Ioulia Tzonou-Herbst, ASCSA Corinth Excavation

  • The Dokimasia Painter at Morgantina, Sicily. Jenifer Neils, Case Western Reserve University

Session: 2E: Etruria and Samnium
Timeslot: Thursday, January 4, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

  • Imported Bucchero from Poggio Civitate: Socio-Political Exchange. Jason P. Bauer, Archaeological Excavations at Poggio Civitate

Session: 2H: 100 Years at Mochlos, Gateway to Crete
Timeslot: Friday, January 4, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

  • Imported Pottery in Neopalatial Mochlos on the Basis of Fabric Analysis
    Eleni Nodarou, Institute for Aegean Prehistory and Jerolyn Morrison, Leicester University

Session: 2I: Materials and Production in the Roman World
Timeslot: Friday, January 4, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

  • Fineware from the Palatine Hill: New Evidence for Ceramic Production at Rome. Adam Hyatt, University at Buffalo, SUNY

  • New Evidence for Roman Coroplasts in Athens. Marcie D. Handler, University of Cincinnati

Session: 3A: Minoan Crete
Timeslot: Saturday, January 5, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Reconstituting the Palace Well: ceramic variability and craft practice in EM I North Central Crete. Peter M. Day, University of Sheffield

  • The Ceramic Assemblage from Vrysinas: Views from a Peak Sanctuary. Elissa Z. Faro, University of Michigan

Session: 3D: The Objects of Greek and Latin Epigraphy
Timeslot: Saturday, January 5, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Graffiti Inscriptions on Pottery from Azoria, Crete: Mixed Ethnicities?
    William C. West, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Session: 4D: Magna Graecia
Timeslot: Saturday, January 5, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

  • Apulian Vase-painting in Context: A Reconsideration of Dramatic Scenes. Johanna Hobratschk, Washington University

Session: 4I: The Chronology of the Royal Macedonian Tombs at Vergina
Timeslot: Saturday, January 5, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

  • Whose Pottery? The Ceramics from the Vergina Tombs. Susan I. Rotroff, Washington University at St. Louis

Session: 5C: Corinthian Horizons: Space, Society and the Sacred in Ancient Corinth
Timeslot: Sunday, January 6, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Dancing Outside the City: The Kokkinovrysi Figurine Deposit. Theodora Kopestonsky, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Session: 5F: Food Fantasies, Fallacies, and Facts: Multidisciplinary Methods on Mediterranean Meals
Timeslot: Sunday, January 6, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Severed Heads and Broken Pots: Consuming the Body in Iron Age Europe
    Sarah Ralph, Cambridge University

Session: 5G: Bronze Age Cyclades
Timeslot: Sunday, January 6, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Communities of Practice within the Cyclades: Considering Scale from a Ceramic Perspective in the Middle Bronze Age. Jillian Hilditch, University of Exeter and Irene Nikolakopoulou, Greek Ministry of Culture, Archaeological Institute of Aegean Studies

  • Too Many Cooks? Ceramic recipes and culinary vessels at Bronze Age Akrotiri, Thera. Noémi Müller and Peter M. Day, University of Sheffield, Vasilis Kilikoglou, Institute of Materials Science, and Irene Nikolakopoulou, Greek Ministry of Culture

Session: 5I: Web-Based Research Tools for Mediterranean Archaeology
Timeslot: Sunday, January 6, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Note: this is where the personal knowledge comes in. I'm talking about my work with Billur Tekkök to publish pottery from Troy on-line.
  • Organizer(s): Rebecca K. Schindler and Pedar Foss, DePauw University

  • Panelists: Pedar Foss, DePauw University, Elizabeth Fentress, International Association for Classical Archaeology, Stephen Savage, Arizona State University, Bruce Hartzlerand Charles Watkinson, ASCSA, Sebastian Heath, American Numismatic Society, Tom Elliott, Ancient World Mapping Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Debi Harlan, Oxford University, Toby Wilkinson, British Institute at Ankara, Robert Chavez, Tufts University

Session: 6B: Villas and Villa Life
Timeslot: Sunday, January 6, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

  • Dining in Late Antiquity: An Analysis of Roman Dining Assemblages. Nicholas Hudson, University of Minnesota

If I missed anything, let me know.

Friday, October 12, 2007

High Quality Information at No Cost

It seems that most books on ceramics that I want to order now cost over $100. This is disappointing as it locks out many potential users. It's therefore gratifying to see the online and free availability of "Chronologies of the Black Sea Area in the Period c. 400-100 BC" from Aarhus University Press. There are some superb ceramics articles in this volume.

One complaint: it's annoying and pointless to have set up the PDFs so you can't copy-and-paste or print. If I ever need to, I can get around this restriction with not too much effort. More generally, what scenario is being avoided here by this step? Again, PDF is not stopping "the bad guys" and anyway, I can't think of who "the bad guys" are. If somebody really does intend to produce a hard copy for illegal resale, it's recourse to the courts that will stop them, not any minor technological impediment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Facebook Group

I started a Facebook group at This is certainly experimental and it may amount to nothing. For now I'm using the "Posted Items" feature to add links to relevant images on Flickr, including the wicked cool Wessex Archaeology pottery photo set.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Mediterranean Ceramics Reference Stability Report

Archaeologists working with Mediterranean ceramics require access both to information about objects and to secondary literature. This post initiates a project to track the ability of scholars using digital resources to cite stable references to digital versions of books and journals as well as to online catalogs of object images and descriptions. The list of 10 digital resources will be repeated early each month with a report on any changes to the URLs used to access them.

1. Walters' Catalogue of the Roman Pottery in the Departments of Antiquities, British Museum from Google Books:

2. Robinson's Agora V from JSTOR:

3. Lattara 6:

4. K. Greene's AJA article on Early Roman lead glazed pottery:

5. Heath and Tekkok, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia):

6. Vessel from Çatalhoyuk (via Flickr):

7. A Late Minoan III Pyxis from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

8. An undocumented ARS Hayes 70 bowl from the dealer Classical Numismatics Group:

9. Fifteenth Century Mosque Lamp from Jerusalem now in the British Museum:

10. The Perseus Project Vase Catalog:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

(Creative) Commoners at Çatalhöyük

This post is in praise of the Çatalhöyük Excavations website. It's the following text, at the lower right of the front page, that should catch one's eye:
All content on this website (including text, photographs, video files, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

For those unfamiliar with the Creative Commons (CC), here's an excerpt from the FAQ (the "you" in this instance is a potential author):
Creative Commons licenses give you the ability to dictate how others may exercise your copyright rights—such as the right of others to copy your work, make derivative works or adaptations of your work, to distribute your work and/or make money from your work. They do not give you the ability to restrict anything that is otherwise permitted by exceptions or limitations to copyright—including, importantly, fair use or fair dealing—nor do they give you the ability to control anything that is not protected by copyright law, such as facts and ideas.

To be more precise, Ian Hodder, and whoever else decided to use a CC license for these materials, chose an "Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0" license. This states that you (this time, a user) are free to:

  • to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work

  • to Remix — to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

  • Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

  • Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

Those are pretty broad freedoms and fair conditions so that the "Creative Commoners" at Çatalhöyük are setting an excellent example by releasing their data under these terms. But what does this have to with pottery? Well, it means that you can use this image in accordance with the freedoms granted and conditions described above. Pretty cool. And it helps that you can pursue searches in the database to ascertain that this piece is associated with layers VI/V (c. 5900 BCE).

To further solidify their forward-thinking cred, the project is now using Flickr to handle image delivery. A nice feature of Flickr is that you can easily choose a CC license for your photos and the site makes this choice very clear. I'll blog more about this later.

For now... all praise to everyone who made the decision to use a CC license.

Corinth Excavations: Archaeological Site Manual

There are many terrific internet resources for the study of Mediterranean ceramics, and over time I will mention more and more of these. To start with, here's a little known gem: the pdf file Corinth Excavations: Archaeological Site Manual. In it you'll find a chart of generic forms and a terminology for vessel parts, as well as standardized charts for describing fabric. See page 31 and following for all this and more. It's not all directly relevant to ceramics but it's all interesting. And if anybody from the excavations sees this... how about updating the rest of the site?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Late Roman Light-Colored Ware"

Today I added a somewhat unusual example of "Late Roman Light-Colored Ware" to the page The fabric and slip are good for the ware. The form doesn't seem to be directly paralleled at Istanbul (see the biblio for full reference). The treatment of the exterior surface is also distinctive.