Title

Examining the Nitty Grit: Petrographic Analysis of Late Iron Age and Archaic Pottery from Western Sicily

Proposal Type

Event

Keywords

Ceramic Petrography, Sicily, Pottery Analysis, Archaeology, Compositional Analysis

Subject Area

History/Anthropology/Philosophy

Description/Abstract

The manufacture of pottery in ancient western Sicily during the Late Iron Age and Archaic Periods (approx. 800-480 BC) is relatively poorly understood. Few pottery production sites have been identified and studied in depth, therefore little is known about the production of fired clay artifacts from this region and time period. Ceramic petrography of pottery fragments recovered from Late Iron Age and Archaic Period contexts demonstrates that a variety of techniques were employed by indigenous Sicilian, Greek colonist, or Phoenician immigrant potters inhabiting western Sicily. For example, petrographic analysis indicates that indigenous Sicilian potters tempered their clay with grit and grog (tiny pottery fragments) and formed their vessels with hand and wheel techniques, yet Greek and Phoenician potters tempered their clay with grit inclusions and formed their vessels with the use of a potter’s wheel. Further analysis of grain sizes in indigenous Iron Age Sicilian pottery has identified two diverse production techniques resulting from differing clay preparation methods. As a result, the microscopic analysis of pottery can address broader social issues such as the transmission of technology from one group to another and the exchange of finished products. Finally, this analysis demonstrates the potential for future, broader studies of such pottery to significantly contribute to our understanding of the manufacture and subsequent exchange of pottery in ancient western Sicily.

Bio

Dr. Balco's research explores two primary foci. First, he examines western Mediterranean cultures with an emphasis on the Iron Age through Medieval periods. His work has explored the following specific research topics: landscape archaeology of western Sicily; the archaeological interpretation of complex social entanglements; material culture as an indication of social transformation; the adoption of Greek feasting traditions among indigenous Iron Age Sicilian populations; the archaeological interpretation of identity transformation as examined using the theory of cultural hybridity; the formation of social middle grounds in social entanglement contexts; and exploring pottery production and exchange using compositional X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), and ceramic petrography analysis. Second, he explores human land use and occupation in prehistoric and historic-period north Georgia.

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Examining the Nitty Grit: Petrographic Analysis of Late Iron Age and Archaic Pottery from Western Sicily

The manufacture of pottery in ancient western Sicily during the Late Iron Age and Archaic Periods (approx. 800-480 BC) is relatively poorly understood. Few pottery production sites have been identified and studied in depth, therefore little is known about the production of fired clay artifacts from this region and time period. Ceramic petrography of pottery fragments recovered from Late Iron Age and Archaic Period contexts demonstrates that a variety of techniques were employed by indigenous Sicilian, Greek colonist, or Phoenician immigrant potters inhabiting western Sicily. For example, petrographic analysis indicates that indigenous Sicilian potters tempered their clay with grit and grog (tiny pottery fragments) and formed their vessels with hand and wheel techniques, yet Greek and Phoenician potters tempered their clay with grit inclusions and formed their vessels with the use of a potter’s wheel. Further analysis of grain sizes in indigenous Iron Age Sicilian pottery has identified two diverse production techniques resulting from differing clay preparation methods. As a result, the microscopic analysis of pottery can address broader social issues such as the transmission of technology from one group to another and the exchange of finished products. Finally, this analysis demonstrates the potential for future, broader studies of such pottery to significantly contribute to our understanding of the manufacture and subsequent exchange of pottery in ancient western Sicily.