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Alberto De Bonis, Celestino Grifa, Alessio Langella, Mariano Mercurio, Maria Luisa Perrone and Vincenzo Morra (2010)


Archaeometric study of roman pottery from Caudium area (Southern Italy)

Period. Mineral. (2010), 79, 2, 73-89

doi: 10.2451/2010PM0011



Aim of this work is the mineropetrographical characterization of late antique painted common wares from the ancient roman settlement of Caudium (today Montesarchio, Campania region, Italy).

Twenty-two samples (4th to 6th century AD) collected during the archaeological survey of the area, were studied to investigate their manufacturing technology and to attest a possible local production. Ceramics shards are represented by 16 painted common ware samples; furthermore, 2 bricks, 2 kiln rejects and 2 fragments of cooking ware were investigated for comparison.

Polarized light microscopy (PLM) observations and X-ray fluorescence chemical analyses (XRF) allowed to characterize the Caudium pottery production. two main groups of fragments were distinguished: the first one composed by painted common wares, bricks and kiln rejects, the other one by cooking ware only. two textural typologies were recorded within the first group (composed by calcareous clay pastes: average CaO ~ 11.0%), one characterized by fine pastes containing tiny clasts of quartz, feldspars and few volcanic inclusions, the other by coarser pastes with predominant volcanic temper. Cooking wares (composed by non-calcareous clay: average CaO ~ 1.6%) show a large amount of temper of both volcanic and detrital origin, the latter mainly constituted by quartzarenite clasts. Multivariate statistical analysis (Hierarchical Clustering and Principal Component Analysis) confirms the already identified groups. Mineralogical analyses and scanning electron microscope observations of the sintering degree of clayey paste enabled to evaluate the firing temperatures of the most representative samples (from 800 to 1200°C).

The whole data set, along with geological features of the investigated area (wide availability of raw materials) and archaeological evidences (kiln refuses, large number of fragments of the same ceramic class), allowed to hypothesize a local production of the painted common wares and thus to define the respective reference group.