Pb and Sr isotopes in archaeological pottery from Galicia: a study of the sources of the raw materials and their access
EM 2012/054. Galician Plan: Emerging researchers. 2012-2015.
Funding for Research Projects and Young Researchers as a part of the Galician R&D&I Plan, Regional Ministry of Culture, Education and University Organisation. Xunta de Galicia.
Sincrisis. Department of History I. University of Santiago de Compostela
M. Pilar Prieto Martínez
M. Pilar Prieto Martínez
Oscar F. Lantes Suárez
Raquel Casal García
Jose Manuel García Costa
Erik Carlsson-Brandt Fontán
Heritage, Paleoenvironment and Landscape Laboratory and Department of History I (USC)
Archaeometry unit (USC)
Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry. (USC)
Territorial Information System Technological Platform (SIT), Lugo. USC.
CACTI. University of Vigo
Based on the idea that pottery is a good indicator of the changes that take place in a society, the general aims of our research are to contribute towards our knowledge of ancient pottery in Galicia in terms of its style, technology and the chaîne opératoire in order to verify if there are variations depending on the chrono-cultural period, the context and area of origin. In particular, in this project we aim to explore aspects associated with the origin of the pottery and its mobility at local and regional level.
In order to achieve this general scientific objective, we will work with two different levels of information:
1) Using existing information. This project has been conceived as a logical and necessary continuation of two other projects, one which has already finished (Incite 2007-9) and another that is underway and which concludes at the end of 2012 (National Plan 2010-12), for which nearly 500 samples of pottery were analysed from 35 archaeological sites (with a chronology ranging from the Mid-Neolithic through to the Modern Age) and 100 sediment samples from archaeological sites based on their lithological variability (see Figure 1). The aim of these projects was to answer a number of specific questions with regard to ceramic archaeometry and to characterise the petrography, define the process used to obtain the raw material and the molecular composition of the remnants of organic material, the guidelines used for colouring the pottery based on how it was fired, the firing temperatures and the kiln technologies (see Figure 2). To do so, a wide range of analytical techniques were used: DRX (mineralogy), XRF (elemental composition), CNSH (carbon and nitrogen), solid colorimetry, thin layer petrographic analysis, GC-MS pyrolysis and SEM.
2) With new information acquired from the project being requested: analysis of Pb and Sr isotypes, and spatial analyses using GIS tools.
2.1) Analysis of Pb and Sr isotopes. The empirical base used in this case will be 100 pottery samples and 100 sediment samples that will be selected from a group that have already been geochemically and mineralogically characterised in previous projects base. A further 20 sediments will be sampled in the field to complete the results. The main goal is to define the ranges of isotopic variation for Pb and Sr in samples of sediments and pottery, and thereby define the areas that provided the raw materials for the pottery.
2.2) Spatial analyses using GIS tools: New and existing analytical data will be used with topographic and geological maps in order to study the relationships of proximity between sites and source areas, to model the territory in increasing levels of complexity, and begin to create and archaeometric-isotopic map.
Another important aspect of this project is the dissemination of the research results in different ways, firstly using traditional scientific methods such as publications, conferences, talks, websites, etc., which are accessible to the general public, and secondly, by means of knowledge transfer to other scientific areas, as the results of this project can be used in other types of research (paleoenvironmental, geochemical, environmental sciences, agricultural chemistry, environmental health, mining, or even in paleodietary or paleometallurgy studies, amongst others).
It is important to note that our aims coincide with the need to continue a unique, innovative line of research in the archaeology of Galicia, and that its results will serve as a methodological model of reference that can be applied to other pottery contexts and territories.