Methodology and technology

In order to achieve a more efficient way of finds processing, NPAP aims to:

  • Combine different traditions in pottery research.
  • Investigate and implement better and faster methods of producing electronic databases of finds.
  • Integrate in these data-systems direct possibilities of producing
    meaningful pottery classifications which go beyond traditional typo-chronology and include as much as possible material traditionally considered ‘undiagnostic’.
  • Connect this database system to various GIS-environments and storage systems of the involved projects, and, in due time, also to the field recording methods.
  • Test and hopefully use new methods of material studies (like ct scanning) besides traditional ones (stylistic analysis; petrography, XRD/XRF etc.), and connect those to the database.
  • Explore the possibilities of automated (profile-) drawing and other recording systems, again connecting them to the database and field recording methods.

Research questions

The results of our combined approaches will be applied to some current issues in Mediterranean pottery research. Six case studies will be conducted as PhD-projects. Synthesizing research will be carried out by the senior members of the NPAP. Some of these case studies will also involve general comparisons between regions and periods, so going beyond the site and the traditional divisions between, for example, ‘Greece’ and ‘Italy’. This part of the NPAP project will focus on two interrelated issues:

  • ‘From far or from nearby?’: the relationship between imported and locally produced pottery in different find-contexts and periods.
  • ‘Does function follow form?’: the correlations between different wares, fabrics and shapes and the contexts they were used in.

Ceramic Analysis

One of the great challenges of NPAP is the simultaneous interpretation of ceramic assemblages of a very different nature (from stratified, excavated pottery to severely weathered survey material) from various areas and periods.The methodological problems this poses are tackled by integrating approaches. Morpho-typological analysis of well-known pottery types will be combined with macroscopic and petrographic analysis of representative samples. All this will be supplemented with comparative analysis of modern clay samples taken from the studied areas, small-scale ethnographic work, and possibly at later stage chemical analysis and CT-scanning.
Although fabric analysis has been neglected when dealing with pottery dated to historical periods, we think it is the most appropriate ‘tool’ in dealing with our combination of complex assemblages full of ‘undiagnostic’ items. Investigation of production technology can shed light on associations between form and function, on the potters’ technological choices and perceptions of the social environment within which pots were produced and consumed. Furthermore, clay analysis can help distinguish ‘local’ from regional/‘imported’ items, offering a better understanding of the circulation of pottery.

NPAP builds on a long history of pottery studies at the University of Amsterdam, starting with Jan Six in the late 19th century. At the Amsterdam Archaeological Centre, traditional stylistic and iconographic approaches are now being combined with analysis of excavation and survey finds, providing a natural background for the project. Directed by Professor Vladimir Stissi, NPAP includes regular AAC staff (Professor Marijke Gnade, Dr. Gert Jan van Wijngaarden, Dr. Jill Hilditch, Dr. Antonis Kotsonas) but also aims to bring forward a new generation of researchers. These include 6 PhD-students (ŠtÄ›pán Rückl, Colette Beestman, Muriel Louwaard, Martina Revello Lami, Jeltsje Stobbe and Nienke Pieters) and an archaeologist/ict-specialist (Jitte Waagen) and recently another ICT-specialist (Ivan Kisjes).

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