‘The Life of a Pot’ Course

5-10 March 2017 the Laboratory for Ceramic Technological Research at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pretoria is offering a course on Laboratory/ technical analyses on ceramics. This is a specialised course in Laboratory archaeology and is offered at very few universities in the world.

A brief description of the course is “The life of a pot”! How it was made in different areas and time periods, how it was used and how it was discarded and secondary use are the different stages in the life of a pot. Each one of these stages will be illuminated by means of different laboratory analysis in combination with lectures to help us interpret how man in different societies have worked and interacted with his environment.  

For the production of Ceramics we will study: Raw materials in pottery production, Forming techniques, Decoration techniques and symbolism, firing techniques. The laboratory analysis will be focused on manufacture and microscopy of ceramic thin-sections, preparation of samples and analysis using a h-XRF followed by interpretation of data. There will also be lectures on the geology of southern Africa and its implications on how to interpret results of laboratory analysis.

The course is mainly hands on, which means that the participants will be able to recognise clay types and temper used for the production of pots, will be able to recognise different forming methods and decoration techniques as well as firing methods. The participants will also have knowledge in the manufacture of ceramic thin sections and a basic knowledge on how to recognise different minerals in thin sections as well as how to calculate the grain size distribution in the ceramic ware. The participants will also be able to operate handheld XRF equipment and interpret date obtained by the analysis.

After completing the course the participants will, besides having a better understanding of and the technical know how for the interpretation of the archaeological material, also have a knowledge base that will clearly stand out in a CV.

The main lecturers at the course are Prof. Anders Lindahl and Dr. Leon Jacobson. Both of them have deep knowledge in laboratory analyses on ceramics and interpretation of data.