A pilot study on coarse ware ceramic fabrics from the Ayios Vasileios Survey Project (Greece)
Keywords:Greece, Ayios Vasileios, ceramic fabric analysis, coarse ware, multiperiod
In this article, we present the results of our pilot study on coarse ware ceramic fabrics from the Ayios Vasileios Survey Project (Laconia, Greece). The aim of this pilot was to explore the potential of optical fabric analysis on coarse wares on the basis of (mineral) inclusions detectable by eye or under modest magnification. We aimed to answer the following question: can we discern Bronze Age coarse wares from Byzantine/Early Modern coarse wares by means of this technique? We studied 177 ceramic fragments by eye and by means of a stereo microscope. This resulted in the description of 51 different provisional fabrics. Only a few of these fabrics could be assigned to a specific time period with certainty, based on a consistent dating of the sherds by the ceramic specialists, who looked at shape, decoration and fabric. Most of the fabrics seem to consist of sherds stemming from various time periods. A comparison between our provisional fabric groups and those published by other researchers in Laconia shows that possible connections or matches between fabrics made by us should be considered either as tentative or as unreliable beyond the level of argued assumptions.
To arrive at more reliable ceramic fabric connections, or the identification of similar fabrics, it will be necessary to publish not only textual descriptions and images of thin sections—as seems to be the common approach—but also series of high-resolution pictures of sherds and their fresh sections, as has been done in this article, together with more detailed descriptions of these sherds.