Looking at Pottery

Lab 2

Introduction to Archaeology


Before carrying out this assignment you should view the two animationsdealing with the examination of pottery. 

Construction Techniques:


Coiled - Created by rolling long coils of clay then wrapping into a conical shape. Characteristics: Breaks usually occur along the coil lines, noticed by the parallel breaks.

Molded - clay is manually or mechanically pressed into a pre-made mold. Characteristics: lines of the mold are usually visible.

Thrown - Clay is placed on a (motorized or manual) spinning wheel and the form is created by manually forming the pot as the wheel is spinning. Characteristics: Faint circular finger impressions are visible on the interior and exterior of the vessel. A line on the base is seen from where the vessel was cut with a wire, removing it from the wheel.





Temper
Temper: an (additive to the clay that makes it more plastic)

Sand

Shell

Straw

Grit - crushed stone

Grog - crushed pottery


Decoration


Punctated-impressions made with a finger, stick.

Incised-lines drawn with a hard object, like a stick

Fabric impressed-created either by molding serving as a means of removal, or patted on the exterior with a cord wrapped paddle (see example)

Corrugated-coiled formation that is not smoothed out

Painted-additive of coloring on interior or exterior

Burnished-rubbed when at leather hardness with a paddle or stone

Corrugated-coiled formation that is not smoothed out

Painted-additive of coloring on interior or exterior

Burnished-rubbed when at leather hardness with a paddle or stone


Baking Temperatures:

Baking temperature is another attribute we try to observe. Note how the higher temperature baked vessels are rock hard, whereas the vessels baked at a lower temperature tend to be softer and chip off more easily.


Vessel Form & Sizing


Discovering Form and Documenting Pottery:

Using the chart provided estimate the vessel's original diameter.

1. To help identify what the shape of the vessel, first identify the size. Using the diameter chart, identify how large the original vessel was.

2. Was it a small cup/bowl/plate, large serving bowl, cooking pot?

Use 1. To help identify what the vessel was used for, refer to the size, shape, and decorative components. These will be valuable clues.

2. Is it used for the preparation of food, or ceremonial purposes? 3. Is it a serving, cooking, individual or group vessel?


Other Ceramic Resources on the Web:

Wisdomtools serious site for analysis of ceramics and fun
Minnesota Clay USA short films dealing with pottery production techniques.



Return to An 210 Syllabus. 
Return to Zagarell's Archaeology Page
Please send comments or suggestions to zagarell@wmich.edu