Galician Plan. 2007-2009.

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Galician Plan. 2007-2009.
Application of archaeometric techniques to the study of ancient pottery from Galicia
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  • Project Description
    English

    Project title

    Application of archaeometric techniques to the study of ancient pottery from Galicia

    Code

    PGIDIT07PXIB236075PR. Galician Plan. 2007-2009.

    Funding

    General Research Promotion Programme of the Galician Research, Development and Technological Innovation Plan (INCITE), 2007 Call. General Directorate of Research, Development and Innovation, Regional Government of Galicia (Xunta).

    Research group

    Sincrisis. Department of History I. University of Santiago de Compostela

    Head researcher

    M. Pilar Prieto Martínez

    Participants

    M. Pilar Prieto Martínez

    Antonio Martínez Cortizas

    Oscar F. Lantes Suárez

    Collaborators

    Heritage, Paleoenvironment and Landscape Laboratory y Department of history I (University of Santiago de Compostela-USC)

    Archaeometry Unit (USC)

    Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry (USC)

    Centre for Higher Scientific Research and National Centre for Metallurgical Research (Madrid)

    Summary

    The aim of this research project is to study the technology behind ancient pottery in order to obtain information on an important aspect of Galician history from an archaeometric perspective. We will study pottery from the Mid-Neolithic (fifth millennium BC) through to the end of the High Middle Ages (ninth century AD), from a total of 22 sites throughout the whole region, focusing on three main areas: the Bocelo mountain range, Ulla and Deza river valleys, and the Morrazo peninsula. A total of 400 samples will be taken from 1575 vessels. A geological study will also be carried out of the areas together with prospecting work to gather clays, in order to analyse and compare them with the results from the pottery analyses.

    The main objective is to contribute towards a deeper understanding of ancient pottery from Galicia from a new, innovative line of research in the field of archaeology in our country: the archaometry of pottery. It is innovative because it is being carried out by way of an interdisciplinary approach combining archaeological and archaeometric work, and because it solves archaeological problems that are difficult to resolve from an archaeological approach, using analytical methods from the fields of physics, chemistry and geology, which form an integral part of archaeometry. It is also novel due to the scale of the study, covering a large area and long period of time. We also intend this project to be the starting point to open and stabilise a line of research that will be extremely useful for Galician archaeology.

    As a result, this project will result in qualitative and quantitative progress in knowledge of our past, using cutting-edge analytical techniques that are perfectly integrated in the needs of a society that calls for a deeper understanding of the past, and which is increasingly interested in cultural and ethnographic heritage. The archaeological questions we intend to answer are:

    - If there are any significant technological changes in the way in which pottery was made over time, and if these are associated with the stylistic changes seen in the material, which in turn are a consequence of social change.

    - If there is a uniform technique in the production of pottery during the Mid-Neolithic, as seen at stylistic level.

    - If the decorative changes seen in pottery styles from the Late Neolithic are corroborated with technological changes in the manufacture of the clays.

    - If in the Early Bronze Age the introduction of Bell Beaker pottery in Galicia involved a technological change as significant as the stylistic change that occurred. This standardised pottery was used in an area ranging from the western half of Europe to northern Morocco for nearly one thousand years, and so it is important to verify how mobile it was, and therefore to identify the mechanisms of circulation involved in the process in Galicia and in the areas with which it was possibly in contact.

    - To verify if the relatively poor stylistic trends seen in the Late Bronze Age correspond to a deterioration or reverse in pottery techniques, or if on the contrary the decision to make less attractive and apparently less elaborate pottery was a conscious decision made by the potters and did not imply any worsening of the production technique.

    - To verify the extent of trading contacts and movement in the Iron Age, before and after the Roman invasion. An analysis of indigenous pottery may provide us with information about the continuity and change in the technology and also information about imported products, trade with the Mediterranean and Atlantic regions, if any technological changes occurred with the arrival of the Suebi in Gallaecia or if the tradition continued in the Early Middle Ages. In this case, the aim will be to discover if this continuity was associated with Roman pottery, indigenous pottery, or a combination of both.

    Project Details
    • Client
    • Date29 Aug 2017
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