Archaeology, Archaeometry and Experimental Archaeology of Pottery: an Introduction (ARC2133)

StaffDr Hajnalka Herold - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesARC1010, ARC1020
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module will outline the theory and practice of pottery analysis within archaeology, giving both a classroom-based overview of research traditions and basic practical competence in experimental archaeology of pottery. Pottery forms an enduring and extensive source of archaeological evidence. Its location in relation to source is used as evidence for landscape exploitation and exchange, whilst the careful analysis of the ceramic artefacts makes it possible to interpret technology, use and artefact histories. All these show what people were doing and how their societies were organised. The module will be a mixture of theories and practice, centred on gaining the skill of interpreting ceramic artefacts.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. know the theoretical and practical issues of pottery analysis and understand how these may be applied
  • 2. know and use the terms and conventions in describing pottery
  • 3. demonstrate basic competence in analysis of ceramic artefacts
  • 4. synthesise the results of a pottery experiment into a report

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. provide a competent overview and use of practical data and its acquisition
  • 6. prepare and interpret primary data under guidance

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. develop an ability to interpret a variety of information forms
  • 8. assimilate numerical and graphical data
  • 9. develop an ability to link theoretical and practical knowledge

Syllabus plan

Research traditions of pottery analysis in archaeology and anthropology (class-based)

Scientific methods in the analysis of ceramic artefacts (class-based and practical; includes basic thin section microscopy)

Experimental pottery production (practical; includes collecting raw materials, forming vessels, firing, and reflection session on the results)

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities12Practicals (4x3hrs)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities14Lectures (7x2hr)
Guided independent study124Independent study

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay401500 words1-3, 5, 7-9mark and written comments
Report601500 words1-9mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay 1500 words1-3, 5, 7-9Refer/Defer period
ReportReport 1500 words1-9Refer/Defer period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Barclay, K., 2001: Scientific analysis of archaeological ceramics: a handbook of resources. Oxford: Oxbow.

Herold, H. 2010: The Ceramic ‘Tableware’ of the Carolingian Period in Zalavár, South-West Hungary, Antaeus, Communicationes ex Instituto Archaeologico Academiae Scientiarum Hungariae 31–32, 155–172. [Available on]

Herold, H. 2015: Technological Traditions in Early Medieval Eastern Austria. In Heinrich-Tamáska, O., Herold, H., Straub, P. and Vida, T. (eds): Castellum, civitas, urbs: Centres and Elites in Early Medieval East-Central Europe. Leipzig and Budapest: Verlag Marie Leidorf, 329–344. [Available on]

Orton, C. and Hughes, M. 2013: Pottery in archaeology. Second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Orton, C., Tyers, P. and Vince, A. 1993: Pottery in archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rice, P. M. 2015: Pottery analysis: a sourcebook. Second edition. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Rye, O. S. and Evans, C. 1976: Traditional Pottery Techniques of Pakistan: Field and Laboratory Studies. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. [Available from the Smithsonian at ]

Tite, M. S. 1999: Pottery production, distribution and consumption – the contribution of the physical sciences. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 6(3), 181–233.

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Archaeology, Pottery, Ceramics