Ceramics from roman galilee: A comparison of several techniques for fabric characterization

David Adan-Bayewitz, Moshe Wieder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


An extensive local provenience study of common pottery from Roman Galilee and Golan was carried out, employing neutron activation analysis. This pottery was then examined by binocular microscopy, xeroradiography, and thin-section analysis and the results compared with the grouping by neutron activation analysis in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the former techniques for classifying these ceramic fabrics. It was found that xeroradiography alone would have led to the incorrect categorization of the pottery corpus, even at the level of major fabric groups. Thin-section analysis, on the other hand, was seen to be an effective means for sorting the collection into major fabric categories that comport with those defined by neutron activation analysis. In some cases, the description of micromorphological subgroups, comparable to the compositional subgroups distinguished by neutron activation analysis, was also possible. This discriminating classification by thin-section analysis was achieved by study of both the pottery matrix and its mineral composition. A description of this dual approach and its importance for pottery classification is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-205
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ruth Shilo, Head of the Mammography Section of the Ichilov Municipal Government Medical Center in Tel Aviv, for her willing cooperation with the xeroradiography, and John M. Gomori, Professor of Radiology at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, for his assistance with the evaluation of the images. Special thanks are due to the many archaeologists who graciously gave us access to the pottery collections used in this study. Expenses connected with this study were covered by research grants from the Israel Ministry of Science, and the Bar-nan University Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz Chair in Land of Israel Studies.


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