ATH 300-01

*** HANDOUT: CERAMICS ***

potsherd: fragment of vessel (shard is British term)

  • Paste: natural clay, local material
    • will retain small natural inclusions (clastics)
      • angular inclusions preferred
    • added water
    • added temper/filler/grit
      • changes in temper tends to indicate dating shift
      • increase porosity
      • reduces shrinkage
      • increase tack/stickiness
      • decrease drying time
      • reduces deformation via drying
      • improves firing characteristics
    • examples:
      • sand
      • plant fiber
      • volcanic ash
      • crushed shells
      • crushed rock
      • old potsherds (“grog temper”)
  • progressive coil building, paddle & anvil to smooth surfaces
  • slab building, uncommon in N. America
  • molding (early mass production)
  • wheel-thrown pottery
  • coloration
    • material composition of clay
    • firing atmosphere
      • positive O2 flow
        • iron oxides affect buff/white/red color when fully oxidized
      • negative O2 flow (reducing atmosphere)
        • soot in air, carbon in matrix
          • dark core in center of sherd
          • result tends to be grey or black
    • firing duration
    • firing temp
    • post-firing mods
      • wear
      • cooking
      • leaching
    • smudging
      • done at completion of firing
      • flammable material covers article while firing to introduce organic material
    • slip
      • thin coat of clay-rich material added to surface
      • applied to air-dried object
      • covers imperfections
      • used to mask joins
      • less than 1mm thickness
    • paint
      • metal oxides
      • high in color
      • lack of black
      • applied after firing
    • glazes
      • more historic than prehistoric characteristic
      • glassy silica-rich
      • opaque or transparent
      • melts at lower temp than clay matrix
      • may contain lead
    • firing (5 stages)
      1. air dry (1 week or more)
      2. slowly bring to boiling point
      3. earthenwares: 650°c – 900°c
        • primary native American pottery style
      4. hotter than that: vitrification/stoneware 1000°c-1200°c
      5. porcelain: > 1300°c
  • Jars
    • restricted orifice
    • lip
    • rim
      • everted
      • inverted
      • folded
    • shoulder
    • body
    • base
  • Bowls
    • lip
    • rim
    • body
    • base
  • attachments
    • handles
    • lugs
    • spouts
    • effigy adornos
  • surface treatment
    • plain
    • incised (pre-firing)
    • engraved (post-firing)
    • excised
    • stamped
      • simple
      • complex
      • rocker
      • dentate (like pizza dough roller)
    • punctuated
    • cordmarking
    • fabric marking
    • smoothed cordmarking
    • burnished
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