Archaeological Ceramics

Charles C. Kolb, Associate Editor

This column has three major components: 1) a brief report on the British Museum conference "Ceramic Technology and Production" which was attended by your editor; 2) a tabulation of eleven new publications on ceramics (including individual chapter titles and their authors for the edited works); and 3) a research report. The latter is a new feature to be included in the column and I anticipate that this will be the initial contribution of what will become a series of status reports on current research. The report profiles the longitudinal research conducted by Dean E. Arnold (Wheaton College, IL) and is significant for providing insights into ceramic ethnoarchaeology. Dean was the recipient of the Society for American Archaeology’s 1996 "Award for Excellence in Ceramic Studies."

Conference Report

"Ceramic Technology and Production," sponsored by the Department of Scientific Research at the British Museum in London was held 20-22 November 1997. The conference organizers, Andrew Middleton and Ian Freestone, created nine sessions with 37 oral presentations and a poster session with 45 invited participants; 36 of the oral papers and 34 of the posters were presented. A total of 132 delegates were registered for the conference and represented 22 nations. England and the United States had the most registrants, but 19 countries had at least two delegates; these included: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Andorra, Spain, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Israel, Japan, Canada, and Brazil.

The sessions scheduled over the three days included: "The Organisation of Production" (Parts I and II, nine papers), "Raw Materials and Resources" (Parts I and II, seven papers), "Interpreting Technological Processes" (Parts I and II, eight papers), "Technological Innovation and Change" (Parts I and II, eight papers), and "Social and Cultural Factors" (four papers). The oral presentations included eight topical papers, six from Western Europe, five from the Americas, five from East Asia, four from the Mediterranean/North Africa, three from Sub-Saharan Africa, three from the British Isles, and three from Southwestern Asia. Among the posters, 30 geographical/cultural areas or topics were represented, with five topical papers, six from England, and three from Greece among those presented. The session chairmen included Ian Freestone, David Peacock, David Gaimster, Michael S. Tite, H. Mommsen, Charles C. Kolb, Yuval Goren, and Andrew Middleton. A Thursday evening reception at the Museum of Mankind featured the exhibition "Pottery in the Making," demonstrations of pottery manufacture, and gallery talks by Ian Freestone and David Gaimster.

Presenters from the United States (and their geographical areas or topics) included: C. Dean Wilson, Eric Blinman, and James Skibo (Southwestern United States), Louise Cort, Leedom Lefferts, and Charlotte Reith (Mainland Southeast Asia), Helen Loney (Italy), Pamela Vandiver (East Asia), Clint Swink (Mesa Verde), David V. Hill (West Texas/Northeastern Chihuahua), W. David Kingery ("Ceramics and Science Prior to the Industrial Revolution"), Dean E. Arnold (Ticul, Yucatan, Mexico), and Charles C. Kolb (Teotihuacan, Mexico).

This was an excellent, well-organized conference which afforded researchers from the New World to meet and learn from their overseas colleagues and vice versa. Although this was a "one-time" event, one hopes that focused international conferences of this type can be held in the future. As a scientitic conference, "Ceramic Technology and Production" was associated with the exceptional exhibition "Pottery in the Making" and a book of the same name. A detailed review of the book Pottery in the Making has been prepared by Charles C. Kolb and is being published in La Tinaja: Newsletter of Archaeological Ceramics 10(4), Fall 1997.

New Publications: Edited Works

Pottery in the Making: World Ceramic Traditions, Ian Freestone and David Gaimster (editors). London: Published for the Trustees of the British Museum by the British Museum Press, 240 pp., 1997, ISBN 0-7141-1782-X; paperback, 19.88 Pounds Sterling UK. Pottery in the Making: Ceramic Traditions, Ian Freestone and David Gaimster (editors). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 240 pp., 1997, ISBN 1-56098-797-9, paperback, $35.00. The British volume is currently available from the British Museum Press, 46 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QQ, 0171-323-1234, FAX 0171-436-7315. Because the coverage of the volume is not "global" in scope, the American edition deletes "World" from the title so as not to imply a comprehensive coverage of pottery traditions. The American edition will be available in late February 1998 and may be ordered from the Smithsonian Institution Press, Marketing Department, 470 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, Suite 7100, Washington, D.C. 20560, 800/782-4612, 202/287-3738, FAX 202/287-3184.

The volume contains an editors’ foreward, acknowledgements, and an "Introduction," while the narrative has 32 chapters (written by 26 authors), each six pages in length with three columns of text per page; each of the chapters is accompanied by from three to ten illustrations and have separate endnotes. There are 199 color and black-and-white illustrations, a total of 1,045 endnote references, a glossary of 143 technical terms, endnotes, a twelve-page bibliography including approximately 1,170 items, a list of references for the illustrations, and a detailed five-page three-column index.

Gaimster and Freestone’s "Introduction" is followed by an initial group of five chapters which focus upon the link between sedentism and pottery making in case studies collectively entitled "Early Sedentary Communities." The chapter titles and authors are: "Jomon Pottery in Ancient Japan" (Victor Harris), "Early Pottery in the Middle Nile Valley" (Derek Welsby), "Early Prehistoric Pottery in Britain" (Gillian Varndell and Ian Freestone), "Prehistoric Ceramics in Mesopotamia" (St. John Simpson), and "Pottery in Predynastic Egypt" (A.J. Spencer). A section entitled "Urbanisation" includes six essays which document the adoption of new fabrication and firing techniques as a response to greater demand and market economies in Mesopotamia, Dynastic Egypt, the Roman Empire, and Japan, etc. The chapter titles and authors include: "Early Urban Ceramic Industries in Mesopotamia" (St John Simpson), "Ceramic Changes in the Transition from Prehistoric to Roman Britain" (Val Rigby and Ian Freestone), "Dynastic Egyptian Pottery" (A.J. Spencer), "Canaanite Potter’s Industries in Mesopotamia" (Pamela Magrill and Andrew Middleton), "Partho-Sasanian Ceramic Industries in Mesopotamia" (St. John Simpson), and "Ash-glazed Stonewares in Japan" (Victor Harris).

Nine chapters are grouped under the title of "Professional Workshops" and include diverse examples illustrating the professionalization of the craft, and the organization of production into workshops which may be discrete or clustered into industrial complexes. The chapter titles and their authors are: "Ancient Greek Pottery" (Dyfri Williams), "Highly Decorated Pottery in Medieval England" (Beverley Nenk), "Korean Celadons of the Koryo Dynasty" (Jane Portal), "Faience in the Ancient Medieval World" (A.J. Spencer and Louise Schofield), "Islamic Lustreware" (Sheila Canby), "Maiolica Production in Renaissance Italy" (Dora Thornton), "Stoneware Production in Medieval and Early Modern Germany" (David Gaimster), "Regional Decorative Traditions in English Post-Medieval Slipware" (David Gaimster), and "Urban Pottery Workshops in North Africa" (Julie Hodson). In "Rural Communities" the editors present three case studies, drawn from ethnographic and archaeological contexts, to document traditional methods of production which may persist because pottery making is a part-time activity in agricultural societies or has symbolic or ritual importance. The studies are: "Traditional Rural Potting in West Africa" (Nigel Barley), "Pottery in Early Anglo-Saxon England" (Cathy Haith), and "Early Iron Age Rural Ceramic Traditions in Iran" (St. John Simpson).

Four contributions are included in the section entitled "Specialized Products" and illustrate single-product fabrication; the essays and authors are: "Tiles in Roman Britain" (Andrew Middleton), "Roman Pottery Lamps" (Don Bailey), "Terracotta Figurines of Eastern Gujarat" (T. Richard Blurton), and "Whistling Vessels from Pre-Hispanic Peru" (Colin McEwan). Four chapters are included under "Industrialisation" and demonstrate large-scale production involving manufactories or factories, export trade, the impact of global economies, and expanded home markets. The contributions are: "Ding and Other Whitewares of Northern China" (Jessica Harrison-Hall), "Mass Production of Roman Finewares" (Paul Roberts), "Chinese Porcelain from Jingdezhen" (Jessica Harrison-Hall), and "The Growth of the Staffordshire Ceramic Industry" (Aileen Dawson). The final chapter, "Tradition in Studio Pottery" (Emmanuel Cooper) considers ceramic objects "made largely by hand under studio conditions" since the second half of the 19th century.

Ceramics and Civilization, Volume VII: The Prehistory & History of Ceramic Kilns, Prudence M. Rice (editor), W.D. Kingery (series editor). Westerville, OH: American Ceramic Society, vii + 262 pp., 1997, ISSN 1042-1122, ISBN 1-57498-026-2; hardcover, $76.00 ACerS members, $95.00 U.S. list price; Book Code: CC07. Available from the American Ceramic Society, Customer Service Department, 735 Ceramic Place, Westerville, OH 43081; 614/794-5890, FAX 614/794-5854,, The volume contains the proceedings of a conference "The Prehistory and History of Ceramic Kilns" held at the 98th Annual Meeting of the American Ceramic Society in Indianapolis, Indiana, 14-17 April 1996. Kingery provides a "Foreward" and Rice a "Preface," and there are 14 chapters (each with a separate bibliography); the book has a comprehensive index. The chapters titles and their authors include: "Introduction and Overview" (Prudence M. Rice), "Operational Principles of Ceramic Kilns" (W. David Kingery), "Inferring Firing Procedures from Sherds: Early Greek Kilns" (Karen D. Vitelli), "Pottery Firing Structures (Kilns) of the Indus During the Third Millennium B.C." (Heather M.-L. Miller), "The Jingdezhen Egg-Shaped Kiln" (Jing Quing Hu and H.T. Li), "Technology and Organization of Anasazi Trench Kilns" (Eric Blinman and Clint Swink), "The Variability and Evolution of Prehispanic Kilns on the Peruvian Coast" (Izumi Shimada), "Ceramic Firing in Ancient and Modern Oaxaca" (Gary M. Feinman and Andrew Balkansky), "Prehispanic Kilns at Matacapan, Veracruz, Mexico" (Christopher A. Pool), "The Fires Without and the Fires Within: Evidence for Ceramic Production Facilities at the Late Classic Site of La Sierra, Naco Valley, Northwestern Honduras and Its Environs" (Patricia Urban, E. Christian Wells, and Marne T. Ausec), "Brick and Tile Making in Spanish California with Related Old and New World Examples" (Julia G. Costello), "An Integrative Review and Examination of Glass Furnace Technology in Renaissance Italy" (W. Patrick McCray), "Unusual Old Kilns" (O.J. Whittemore), and "Concluding Comment" (Prudence M. Rice).

Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology V, Pamela B. Vandiver, James R. Druzik, John F. Merkel, and John Stewart (editors). Pittsburgh, PA: Materials Research Society, Symposium Proceedings Volume 462, 1997, ISBN 1-55899-366-5; hardcover, MRS members $62.00, U.S. list price $71.00, non-U.S. list price $82.00; Book Code: 462-B. Available from the Materials Research Society, Publications Office, 9800 McKnight Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237-6006, 412/367-3012, FAX 412/367-4373,, and on the MRS website ( This volume includes the proceedings of a conference "Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology V" held at the Fall 1996 Meeting of the Materials Research Society in Boston, Massachusetts, 3-5 December 1996. The book has eight parts containing a total of forty-eight papers accompanied by an author index and a subject index; each chapter has a separate bibliography. Ten contributions concern ceramic materials. The ceramic papers and their authors are: "Provenance Determination from ICP-MS Elemental and Isotopic Compositions of El Paso Area Ceramics" (Nicholas E. Pingitore, Jr., Jeff D. Leach, Joshua Villalobos, John A. Peterson, and David Hill), "Refactory Ceramics from an Iron Age Bronze Melting Workshop at Khirbet edh-Dharih, Jordan" (Sabine Klein, Andreas Hauptmann, and Pamela B. Vandiver), "Incipient Maya Burnt-Lime Technology: Characterization and Chronological Variations in Preclassic Plaster, Stucco, and Mortar at Nakbe, Guatemala" (Eric F. Hansen, Carlos Rodriguez-Navarro, and Richard D. Hansen), "ICP-MS Isotopic Signatures of Lead Glaze Ceramics, Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico, 1315-1700" (Nicholas E. Pingitore, Jr., David Hill, Joshua Lillalobos, Jeff Leach, and John A. Peterson), "An Examination of Contemporary Iznik-Style Turkish Ceramics" (P. Artal-Isbrand and R. Newman), "An Investigation of the Sources of Bronze Age Pottery from Goltepe and Kestel, Turkey by Neutron Activation" (E.C. DeSena and E.S. Friedman), "Analyses of Archaeological Ceramics from Classic Period Teotihuacan, Mexico, A.D. 50-750" (Charles C. Kolb), "The Alteration and Natural Consolidation Effects of a Ceramic Vessel in Archaeological Excavation from San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, Veracruz, Mexico" (Ma. Eugenia G. Munoz, Margarita Lopez Fernandez, Adriana Cruz Lara Silva, Ann Cyphers, and Jorge E. Gama Castro), "The Pottery Technology from Pukit Tengkorak, a 3000-5000-Year-Old Site in Borneo, Malaysia" (Pamela B. Vandiver and Stephen Chia), and "The Evolution Process of the Ancient Chinese Yaozou Porcelain" (P.L. Leung, Luo Hongjie, Li Jiazhi, and Michael J. Stokes).

Pottery in Rajasthan: Ethnoarchaeology in Two Indian Cities, Carol Kramer. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, Smithsonian Series in Archaeological Inquiry, 288 pp., ISBN 1-56098-740-5, 1997, $49.95 (cloth), $49.95. She is also the author of related works, Village Ethnoarchaeology: Rural Iran in Archaeological Perspective (1982) and editor of Ethnoarchaeology: Implications of Ethnography for Archaeology (1979). Hew new volume focuses on traditional urban potters in the northwest Indian cities of Jodhpur and Udaipur who produce utilitarian earthenware, and details production methods, vessel types and quantities, as well as the craftsmen’s sociocultural relationships with distributors, clients, and patrons. The book’s seven chapters include an "Introduction," "Jodhpur and Udaipur," "The Ceramic Industry," "Shops," "Ceramic Distribution," "External Sources of Pottery," and "Conclusions," accompanied by appendices which provide maps of the potters’ workshops and ceramic types. Kramer utilized interviews with more than 200 potters and vendors, and census and kinship data in her analysis. She raises important questions about trade, exchange, and craft specialization that are of special interest to archaeology, cultural anthropology, and students of complex societies as well as ceramic studies. The volume is illustrated with 31 black-and-white photographs, 80 line drawings, and 5 maps.

New Publications: The Roman World

Handbook of Mediterranean Roman Pottery, John W. Hayes. London: British Museum Press, 1997, 128 pp. paperback, ISBN 0714122165, 14.99 Pounds Sterling; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997, ISBN 0-8061-2939-5, $27.95. Hayes presents an analysis of the stylistic and technical features which mark Roman period wares, illustrating how the vessels were fabricated, decorated, exchanged and traded, and used. The book focuses upon Roman pottery made in Italy and in the Roman provinces between 100 B.C. and A.D. 600. Among the ceramics considered are amphoras, red-gloss sigillata, African Red Slip, lead- and alkaline-glazed wares, coarse wares, and special function vessels.

Roman Pottery in Britain, Paul Tyers. London: Batsford, 1996, 208 pp., paperback, ISBN 0713474122, 35.00 Pounds Sterling. The volume presents an historical study of Roman ceramics produced in Britain by detailing sources used for analysis (sites, clays, and kilns), the role of ceramics in society (chronological, economic, and functional parameters), and has a short history of Roman pottery fabricated in Britain from pre-Roman and Late Iron Age times through the Byzantine era. A second part to this well-illustrated book is an extremely valuable atlas and guide to ceramics including amphoras, terra sigillata, mortuaria, and Romano-British fine wares and coarse wares.

Prehistoric Pottery for the Archaeologist, second edition, Alex Gibson and Ann Woods. London: Pinter Publishers, Cassell Academic, 1997, 320 pp., paperback, ISBN 071851954X, 29.95 Pounds Sterling. In this revised edition the authors provide an introduction to the chronological development and technology of pottery with emphasis on British prehistoric ceramics. There is an extensively illustrated glossary in which pottery styles, types, materials, and technologies are explained in detail. Evidence from petrographic microscopy and experimental studies are also included.

New Publications: The Greek World

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens has announced the publication of two new volumes. For prices and ordering information please contact University Museum Publications, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, at their website ( Hellenistic Pottery: Athenian and Imported Wheelmade Table Ware and Related Material, Susan I. Rotroff. Princeton: American School of Classical Studies, Athenian Agora Vol. XXIX, 1997. ISBN 0-87661-229-X. Athenian Red-Figured and White Ground Pottery, Mary B. Moore. Princeton: American School of Classical Studies, Athenian Agora Vol. XXX, 1997. ISBN 0-87661-230-3.

The Red and the Black: Studies in Greek Pottery, Brian A. Sparkes. London: Routledge, 1996, 208 pp., paperback, ISBN 0415126614, 14.99 Pounds Sterling; hardbound, ISBN 0415126606, 45.00 Pounds Sterling.

New Publications: The Andean Region

The Archaeology and Pottery of Nazca, Peru, Alfred L. Kroeber and Donald Collier, edited by Patrick Carmichael with a contribution by Katharina Schreiber. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, due in Fall 1997. ISBN 0-7619-8964-1, $39.95, cloth. The volume is sponsored by the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL and has over 400 illustrations. Ordering information can be obtained from the parent company, Sage Publications (website: