The methodology used at Ras el Bassit is based on one developed in Britain and adapted for the large quantities of material found in the East. It is designed to allow the integration of pottery with other finds data in order to provide a complete catalogue of the artefacts recovered from an excavation in a format which can be analysed in a statistically meaningful way. Pottery is recorded by sherd families, defined by ware, with rims, handles and bases recorded by fabric type. Quantification is done by number of fragments, weight, minimum number of rims, rim equivalents and, for selected groups, base equivalent and estimated vessel equivalent. Surface deposits or residues such as sooting are also noted. Analysis is made of the overall assemblage and by selected group, usually defined by area and phase.
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.