Study Group for Roman Pottery

National Research Framework: North of Britain

Scientific Analysis & Methodology

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RESEARCH FRAMEWORK FOR THE STUDY OF ROMAN POTTERY IN THE NORTH OF BRITAIN

Edited by Jeremy Evans & Steven Willis on behalf of the SGRP, Northern Regional Group. October 1997; selectively revised 2002

11. SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS & METHODOLOGY

11.1 Quantification

The point made under 3.1 also applies to other types of site in northern Britain.

Taphonomic studies are important, particularly to the interpretation of the sequences excavated at urban and military sites. Studies in the ceramic indicators of this (eg. sherd size, chronological spread) should be combined with studies of such indicators in other material types (eg. bone fragment size, loose teeth, etc).

11.3 The integrated study of finds assemblages

The value of an integrated approach to the study of finds assemblages is increasingly recognized (eg. Hanson & Breeze 1991, 75; above 3.7). Ceramics are the key artefact class from which to develop such approaches, being one of the commonest finds classes. Technical progress (eg. Orton 1992) now enables pottery data to be directly compared with small finds and animal bones. It is hence possible to start to develop comparisons of full artefact assemblages between different deposits and different sites. This will hopefully provide a new field of data from which to develop sophisticated interpretations.

11.4 Residue analysis

Residue analysis appears to be offering major opportunities to examine the types of foods being prepared in Romano-British vessels. Considerable scope for using the new techniques of residue analysis can be found on northern sites, in examining differences between military and civil, and urban and rural consumption patterns and exploring the extent of the 'Romanization' of diet.

11.5 Neutron activation analysis

There is a considerable library of NAA characterisations of kiln sites and other material in the region (both of Roman and later date) and its wider dissemination is desirable.

11.6 Collaboration

A wider gain in archaeological knowledge of ceramics in the region might be achieved if there was closer collaboration between SERC sponsored research and pottery specialists, who, at present, are rarely consulted by those undertaking such projects.

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