The Potential of Ceramic Building Materials in Understanding Late Antique Archaeology

In: Field Methods and Post-Excavation Techniques in Late Antique Archaeology
Authors: Luke Lavan and Philip Mills

Abstract

This paper outlines the potential in the study of ceramic building material (CBM) recovered from archaeological contexts, and how it can shed light on archaeological questions. It can contribute to the dating of archaeological deposits and sites. As a large artefact, which can be subsequently reused in Antiquity, it can provide important information about site formation processes. The knowledge that large quantities of this material are not locally made, and are in fact part of wider regional distribution networks, makes CBM an extremely useful means of tracing ancient trading patterns. The proportions of different CBM forms in an assemblage can help inform us about the nature of a deposit, as can traces of sooting and mortar on recovered CBM. This material also provides important evidence for reconstructing the appearance of a building or neighbourhood and its change over time. A methodology and sampling strategy, which has been developed to elucidate this information in an efficient manner, is also presented.

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