Unit Book A16

Version 2

A16 Syntetic View / Typology / Objects

Ceramics from Unit A16

Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati – November 2005

Back to top: Ceramics from Unit A16


The ceramics from this unit, excavated in 2 seasons (2001 and 2002) have all been analyzed in the field. This means that the ceramics from all contexts are included in this database. All body sherds were analyzed based on our site-wide descriptions of the wares found on the site. If these sherds are decorated then they are described according to codes established for decoration technique and design elements. The shapes are categorized through comparison with a basic shape catalog containing 150 types (and a number of variations) covering all the major shapes made during the time periods the site was in use. When only the rim is found and the vessel shape cannot be determined from it, then these rims are categorized through a catalog of rim types; the same is true for bases. While we have very few handles in the time periods represented at the site, we do have a catalog of handle types also.

Back to top: Ceramics from Unit A16

Chronological implications

It is important that these analysis categories are site-wide and, even more importantly, that they cover all chronological periods since depositional factors effect both the primary and secondary emplacement? of the ceramics. So for instance, earlier sherds are brought up into later strata through a variety of factors including the digging of pits, burials, drainage systems, etc. and production activities such as the construction of kilns and holding tanks associated with pottery making. It has become clear in the last few years that two other important factors are influential in this regard also. Ceramics from earlier periods can be retained out of an “antiquarian” interest in the past. While this is not an important factor statistically its occurrence may skew thinking about the chronological position of specific features. Another influential factor, more prevalent statistically, is the imitation of previously made pottery that had already gone out of style. The imitation can include both wares and shapes.

Back to top: Ceramics from Unit A16

Wares and function

If we turn from questions concerning chronology and focus on questions of function, some interesting patterns can be noted. Looking specifically at all the ceramics from A16 it is clear that the most prevalent ware is the one called in our system CH for chaff tempered. This is a relatively coarse ware and represents 34% of the total (within unit A16). If we compare this with an earlier sample from strata in the palace area AA then we can see that there even higher percentages of CH ware are represented, ranging from 39% to 57%.

Fine chaff (FC) ware is made out of the same clay as CH but the vessels produced are smaller and thinner walled. In the A16 sample FC is 16% while in the AA area it ranges from 20% to 11%. In the later strata the types of vessels previously produced in CH are now produced in RC, a ware made from an iron rich clay with many calcite inclusions. In area A16 this represents 26% when all the sub-types are added together.

Pebble tempered ware (P) is the main cooking ware represented in the excavations. In A16 9% of the sherds come from this ware; in area AA from 8% to 3% of the sherds are made in this type of ceramic.

An interesting sub-type of P ware is FP. This is a category of small vessels with thinner walls but made in the same basic shape as the larger P ware cooking pots. These are heavily secondarily burned as are the larger examples of P ware. As is usual a few earlier sherds are mixed in with this sample. In comparing them to the AA area sherd data we can see that basically they are quite similar and represent a standard cross section of the normal, every day vessels in use in these time periods.

None of the wares represented in the data are especially fine wares that could be associated with a context where elite status could be reinforced by the use of fine ceramics. This is interesting in that some of the A16 sample came from a paved stone courtyard of the palace. It appears that the activities taking place in the court did not warrant fine ceramics. It should be noted that the ceramics from the temple BA were heavily weighted toward fine ceramics both for serving and for short term storage.

Back to top: Ceramics from Unit A16

Shapes and function

This general impression is further emphasized in looking at the shapes in the A16 sample. Jars and jar shoulders are the largest part of the sample at 52%. This appears to indicate that short and medium term storage was more important in the contexts represented by this data than serving and eating of food which would be generally represented by bowls (23%) and drinking cups (5%). As we have seen above cooking was represented in the sample but not heavily.

Among the jars the most common are necked jars at 20%. Since the jars are made of clay which is heavily tempered, they are heavy to hold even when empty. But their necked shape makes them easier to pour; while they are usually of a size that they need to be held with both hands, one hand would be at the base while the other could hold the neck and more easily guide the outflow of the contents.

Hole mouth jars tend to be larger and represent 12% of the A16 sample. However few are so large that they could not, with some difficulty, be moved when empty.

In looking more closely at the bowls, the deep bowls are 9% of the sample; these too must be used for short and medium term storage; many of the straight sided bowls (3%) could also be used for storage.

Among the more open shapes, carinated bowls (8%) and round sided bowls (5%) are the most common. They are well adapted for serving and eating.

Bases of both jars and bowls are generally flat (30% including all categories of flat base) while the remaining are distributed in the categories of ring and disk bases; only 8 sherds of rounded bases were found.

Since the bases are essentially flat there is no functional need for stands which are very few in the A16 data base.

Back to top: Ceramics from Unit A16