Publication date: August 2019
Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 108
Author(s): Ortal Harush, Naama Glauber, Amit Zoran, Leore Grosman
Ceramic-sherds analysis has been concerned with categorizing to types according to vessel shape and size for the description of a given material culture. Yet, the characterization of ceramic variations and their meaning receives little attention in the archaeological study. In the present research, we wished to monitor small-scale variations, searching for the unique signature of the individual potter during production. We thus examined new parameters for distinguishing between trainee potters and monitoring their distinct styles as part of an integrated experimental archaeological study.
For the purposes of this research, ceramic students were instructed to produce the same part of a storage jar repeatedly for several days following a strict protocol—with a single prototype and using the same technique in the same workspace. All the produced items were 3-D scanned to extract accurate geometric parameters for classification. Cluster analysis was used to analyze the digital data, in addition to a novel data visualization technique that was developed for detecting ceramic variations. These methods enabled us to distinguish the potters by their individual styles, probably already established in the early stages of learning. Our results show that the novel visualization approach, together with the quantitative method, allows us to efficiently identify the location, on the vessels, of the potters’ stylistic fingerprint.