Friday, November 28, 2008

Late Hellenistic and Roman Pottery at Ilion (Troia)

Here is the abstract of my co-authored AIA paper. It's part of the Sunday morning session 7A: Pottery Production and Trade. My colleague Billur Tekkök and I are splitting the main text; she'll work on Hellenistic and I'll do Roman. Ernst Pernicka, director of the Troia Project, will contribute the results of NAA of sherds we selected.

Late Hellenistic and Roman Pottery at Ilion (Troia)

Billur Tekkök, Başkent University,
Sebastian Heath, American Numismatic Society,
and Ernst Pernicka, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen

This paper presents results from the study of stratified deposits dating from the late second century B.C. to the early sixth century A.D. Beyond establishing chronological horizons, our purpose is to explore the role of ceramic evidence in identifying economic and cultural trends at the site. Throughout this period, Ilion participated in both regional and long-distance exchange networks, and the ce-ramic assemblage includes a wide selection of Aegean utilitarian and tablewares. For the late Hellenistic period, Neutron Activation Analysis shows that regional workshops continued to produce Aegean forms, while also incorporating wider Mediterranean trends. Tablewares from first-century A.D. well-fills, pits, and foundation trenches indicate regular access to trade networks that brought ce-ramic material from outside the Aegean to the households of the region. Eastern Sigillata A, Italian Sigillata, as well as Eastern Sigillata B, are regular features of the ceramic assemblage, though none are common. Eastern Sigillata C, also called Çandarli-ware, becomes increasingly available at this time. By the late second cen-tury A.D., ESC makes up the bulk of the tableware assemblage. Pontic products remain rare in the Roman period. NAA indicates that ESC vessels, which display differences in inclusions and manufacture, were all supplied by regional work-shops. Late Roman tablewares show a transition to the use of Phocaean Red-Slip, as well as the presence of African Red-Slip and pale-slipped tablewares. Equal attention has been given to utilitarian wares and amphoras, and these vessels are presented as well. Finally, we present ongoing efforts toward digital publication of ceramic data.
To encourage me to get the text done in a timely fashion, I'll post sections here as I work on them. That will help me select the right photographs and drawings.

Last year I posted a list of papers whose titles indicated they had something to do with pottery. Look for a similar list to appear soon. And anybody who wants to post a relevant abstract here, just send it by e-mail or paste it into a comment.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Profile Drawing from the Illustrator's Perspective

Jane Heinrichs posts on the relative merits of drawing amphora vs. African Red-Slip sherds.

I spent two seasons at Leptiminus (Lamta) when I was a graduate student. Great site, nice kilns. My only comment on the post is to wonder why the project is using JPEG rather than a vectorized format.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Roman Pottery List at Worldcat

On AWBG, David Gill mentioned his History of Egyptology Worldcat list. That has inspired me to start such a list for Roman Pottery. You'll see that the focus is the Mediterranean.

It's incomplete, of course, but will grow over time. Suggestions, preferably with Worldcat links included, are welcome.

More on Sharing

Readers may recall a blog-based discussion of sharing archaeological data. See this post on AWBG for a summary with links to most of the discussion. The originator of the thread, Charles Watkinson, offered further observations in a contribution to the CSA Newsletter. I don't mean to re-open the whole issue, but I did recently come across a quote that seemed relevant.

The short volume, Francovich and Hodges. 2003. Villa to village: the transformation of the Roman countryside in Italy, c. 400-1000. London. [worldcat], is a good introductory text on an important early Medieval topic. When surveying the contributions of archaeology, the authors write:
...ceramic remains from for[sic] the post-classical period were needed to identify medieval sites. The opportunity arose in the spring of 1960 during the survey of the Ager Veientanus, some 17km north of Rome. Deep ploughing turned up what what on inspection proved to be the bases of a church colonnade, together with other major architectural elements and medieval pottery. Ward-Perkins soon identified the conspicuous surface remains as those of the monasterium sancti Cornelii in Capracorio, a monastery found between 1026 and 1035 on the site of a papal estate established by Pope Hadrian I in c. 776 (Christie 1991). Ward-Perkins realised that the site had almost certainly been occupied by a Roman villa as well, and with some zeal set out to explore the possibility of establishing direct continuity between a Roman villa and a domusculta - a ninth-century papal farm. Over five seasons, under the direction of Barri-Jones and then Charles Daniels, the British School at Rome uncovered this rare example of an early medieval rural settlement, permitting the pottery types of the age to be identified and used for locating other sites in survey. Unforunately, as Chris Wickham has recently written, "Santa Cornelia did not have the impact of the Castelprio or Torcello sites, or the German excavations of Invillino later in the decade, because it was not published for 30 years; by the time Neil Christie piloted it to publication in 1990, medieval archaeology had moved on." (Wickham 2001:38)

The key phrase here is "did not have the impact...because it was not published for 30 years". It is not important who you are - and I leave it to others to slot Ward-Perkins into a scholarly taxonomy - if you don't share ("publish"), then your data doesn't matter. I could certainly be more expansive and subtle but that would dilute the point.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lamp fillers or baby feeders?

First, a quick word of thanks to Sebastian for allowing me the chance to post here on Mediterranean Ceramics, particularly as the post's in some respect a selfish one. Y'see, I'm the student with whom he's working on the lamps from Beit She'an: and after discussing the several examples with him from a particular tomb, as well as associated ceramic and glass vessels, I'm left with a question I hope someone on the interwebs can answer.

Among the other ceramic vessels found within the tomb in question was a small, one-handled vessel with a bulbous body and a high neck--it'd be a stretch to call it piriform, but not entirely inaccurate--with a slender spout emerging from the body above its thickest point. More to the point, it's the sort of vessel which usually gets characterized as either a lamp filler or a baby feeder. Both are sensible enough guesses, I suppose, but they strike me nevertheless as almost comically divergent (similar shapes notwithstanding). Has anyone seen a treatment of these sorts of vessels anywhere--another example from Beit Sh'ean is at right--especially as regards their use in Late Roman or Byzantine Palestine? I'd be curious to know whether I ought to assume the thing's a lamp filler, given the presence of several associated lamps, or if I'm looking at a baby bottle. Thanks for the help!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Three Books: Argos, Britain and Loot

Somewhat randomly:
  • Catherine Abadie-Reynal's La céramique romaine d'Argos: Fin du IIe siècle avant J-C - fin du IVe siècle après J-C. [worldcat] is an excellent contribution to the study of Aegean ceramics in the Roman period. In conception, it is a well-executed catalog-based typological study. The introductions for each ware are up-to-date and the regionally organized bibliography is a resource all on its own.
  • Lloyd Laing's Pottery in Britain: 4000 BC to AD 1900 [worldcat] is useful for its color illustrations. If you take the book on its own terms, it makes a good addition to your personal or institutional library.
  • I recieved a review copy of Sharon Waxman's Loot: the battle over the stolen treasures of the ancient world [worldcat]. Preliminary reading has added it to my "get to soon" list. For reactions and links see Looting Matters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quick Lamp Follow-Up

Looking at lamps from Beit She'an was enjoyable. The wider topic was material from a single tomb but lamps were the most numerous category of ceramic object. This was done in the context of an independent study so all the credit for setting things up goes to the student who pulled the pieces. The main reference we used was:
Hadad, S. (2002). The oil lamps from the Hebrew University excavations at Bet Shean. Qedem reports, 4. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem. [worldcat]
Generally a very useful book, particularly when you're lucky enough to be looking at objects from the same site that happen to be in the very museum you're working in!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quick Poll: LRC, Phocaean or Phokaian

Towards the top right of this page you'll see a poll asking for your preferred term for the late Roman red-slipped ware from Phocaea (or Phokaia?). This is the kind of thing that I don't much mind what your answer is. The modernist in me likes Phokaian, though Phocaean seems more common in English-language publications. Everybody knows what LRC means, but it is out of date and a geographic term is probably preferable.

Three Websites for Ancient Lamps

Tomorrow I am taking a look at lamps excavated by the University of Pennsylvania Museum from tombs at Beit She'an/Scythopolis [wikipedia].

There are a few good websites for ancient oil-lamps. Three that come immediately to mind are:It will be clear that I've listed sites that are well illustrated and have reasonably good descriptions, not sites that are replete with objects from properly excavated and documented contexts. One would wish that there were more of the latter.

Feel free to add to this short list in the comments.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Online Syriac Studies

I've been poking around the online resources for Syriac studies. First issue of note is the seeming disappearance of the site Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Computing Institute. Does anybody know what's going on there? I've seen notice of a Syriac Unicode font but can't get at it.

I have enjoyed the online journal Hugoye. Unfortunately, the copyright statement includes the following:
Hugoye articles are copyrighted and must be treated like any other published articles. They cannot be copied, duplicated, or reproduced by any means without prior written authorization from the General Editor.
Such restrictions only serve to marginalize this important field. The articles are already online and freely available. How about using a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work license?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Living Late Antiquity

I think many students of the Ancient World can see the repercussions of their own period of expertise still present in current events. This was brought home to me by the article A Short Overview of the Common History of the Syrian Church with Islam through the Centuries by HH Patriarch Mor Ignatios Zakka I Iwas.

Without meaning to preview it too much, I think anybody interested in the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages will find it offers an interesting perspective.

And while I'm sure one can find controversy in this document, that's not my interest at all.