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Characterization of clays and the technology of Roman ceramics production

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2018

Letizia Ceccarelli*
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3ER, UK
Maurizio Pietro Bellotto
Affiliation:
Politecnico di Milano, CMIC – Dipartimento di Chimica, Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica ‘G. Natta’, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy
Marco Caruso
Affiliation:
Politecnico di Milano, Materials Testing Laboratory, via Celoria 3, 20133 Milan, Italy
Cinzia Cristiani
Affiliation:
Politecnico di Milano, CMIC – Dipartimento di Chimica, Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica ‘G. Natta’, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy
Giovanni Dotelli
Affiliation:
Politecnico di Milano, CMIC – Dipartimento di Chimica, Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica ‘G. Natta’, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy
Paola Gallo Stampino
Affiliation:
Politecnico di Milano, CMIC – Dipartimento di Chimica, Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica ‘G. Natta’, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy
Giuseppina Gasti
Affiliation:
Politecnico di Milano, CMIC – Dipartimento di Chimica, Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica ‘G. Natta’, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy
Luca Primavesi
Affiliation:
Politecnico di Milano, CMIC – Dipartimento di Chimica, Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica ‘G. Natta’, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy

Abstract

The recent discovery of a Roman ceramics manufacturing workshop at Montelabate (Perugia, Italy), in use from the first century BC until the late-fourth to fifth centuries AD, offers a unique opportunity to study the technical processes for producing Roman amphorae. Ancient and modern clays were sampled and analysed; they do not differ significantly, supporting the hypothesis of the exploitation of the rich local clay source that allowed a continuity of production. Characterization of the clays was performed using geotechnical methods (Atterberg limits and size distribution) and by thermogravimetric and differential thermogravimetric analysis, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence analyses. The material was suitable for pottery making with the addition of calcite and quartz sand temper. Production waste and discarded materials as well as good-quality products were also analysed with the same methodology. It is therefore possible to reconstruct the ancient technology by defining the recipe for the production of the amphorae and their firing temperature on the basis of the decomposition of clay materials and the presence of newly formed minerals.

Type
Article
Information
Clay Minerals , Volume 53 , Issue 3 , September 2018 , pp. 413 - 429
Copyright
Copyright © Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland 2018 

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Footnotes

Guest Associate Editor: N. Fagel

This paper was originally presented during the session: ‘CZ-01 – Clays for ceramics’ of the International Clay Conference 2017.

(Present address: Politecnico di Milano, CMIC – Dipartimento di Chimica, Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica ‘G. Natta’, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milano, Italy)

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