Chemical and Microscopic Analysis of Attic and Corinthian pottery (Chaviara and Aloupi)

This article (in press) by Artemi Chaviara and Eleni Aloupi in The Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, examines the chemical and microscopic properties of black-glaze vessels from the Athenian Acropolis, Boeotia, and the potter’s quarter in Corinth. I tried to access the piece via my institution’s website but ran into problems. For now, I can only copy the metadata and abstract below:

It is hard to know from the abstract what the authors conclude about the Corinthian material specifically but the sophisticated tools employed for study (microscopic analysis, optical microscopy, and Portable X-ray Fluorescence devices) look like they should contribute significantly to the scholarship surrounding the production of Corinthian pottery. Here’s the abstract:

In order to study the provenance of the clays used for the black-glaze (BG) decoration of Athenian pottery, we analysed in situ with the use of a Bruker handheld-PXRF system ~100Geometric, Archaic and Classical decorated sherds from the 19th century excavations at the Acropolis of Athens (Graef and Langlotz, 1933), Boeotian ware from the Kavirion excavations and test pieces from the early excavations at the potter’s quarter in Corinth. The sherds were also examined microscopically and documented by means of optical microscopy/digital photography. The results were compared with laboratory BG specimens produced by following the “iron reduction technique” at the THETIS workshop in Athens. The laboratory BG specimens used clay-colloids from 36 different ferruginous, illitic, low-calcium content, clay-sources in Attica. Trace element comparison between modern and ancient BG samples, with respect to the Zn content, points to the occasional use in antiquity of clay-deposits from Laurium. In addition, two phenomenological features of the ancient BG samples also present in prominent museum exhibits, i.e. the characteristic star-like micro-cracks and distinct brown-black colour shades, appear in the laboratory BG specimens produced from specific clay-deposits in the Panakton plateau and Mount-Parnes region.

The image used for this post is Corinth Image: bw 3544, which comes from the database of the American School Excavations at Corinth.

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Categories: American School Excavations, Archaic, Ceramics, Classical

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