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Quantitative Porosity Studies of Archaeological Ceramics by Petrographic Image Analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2014

Chandra L. Reedy
Affiliation:
Center for Historic Architecture & Design, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Jenifer Anderson
Affiliation:
Center for Historic Architecture & Design, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Terry J. Reedy
Affiliation:
Independent Statistician, 3 Stage Road, Newark, DE, 19711, USA
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Abstract

Pores in archaeological ceramics can form in a number of different ways, and reflect both deliberate choices and uncontrollable factors. Characterizing porosity by digital image analysis of thin sections holds a number of advantages as well as limitations. We present the results of experiments aimed at improving this method, focusing on high-resolution scans of entire thin sections. We examine the reproducibility of pore measurements by petrographic image analysis of ceramic thin sections using laboratory-prepared specimens of clay mixed with sand of known amount and size. We outline protocols for measuring Total Optical Porosity, using the Image-Pro Premier software package. We also briefly discuss use of pore size and pore shape (aspect ratio and roundness) in characterizing archaeological ceramics. While discerning reasons for observed amounts, sizes, and shapes of pores is an extremely complex problem, the quantitative analysis of ceramic porosity is one tool for characterizing a ware and comparing a product to others. The methods outlined here are applied to a case study comparing historic bricks from the Read House in New Castle, Delaware; the porosity studies indicate that different construction campaigns used bricks from different sources.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2014 

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