Quantification of archaeological pottery

This is a complex and articulated topic, that has been studied by many authors with a variety of approaches. There are no ready solutions, just a large set of techniques that can be used together when studying archaeological pottery. The most important author for quantitative studies on pottery is certainly Clive Orton.

Some case studies with (Late) Roman pottery

  • African Red Slip Ware (ARSW) from Northern Italy (400 – 700 AD)
  • Gaulish and Hispanic Samian Ware and African Red Slip Ware from Tingitana

Scripts to automate plot drawing

You can find some scripts that create good-looking plots for quantitative pottery data at https://codeberg.org/steko/pottery-ggplot2

These scripts are written in the R programming language and use the ggplot2 library. They assume that data are standardized in flat (“tidy”) tables with variables like:

  • shape of vessel
  • reference to existing typologies (e.g. Hayes for ARSW)
  • number of sherds, minimum number of vessels
  • chronological lifespan of each type (expressed as two separate columns of beginning and end of production)
  • fabric
  • and others

Analysing assemblages