Academic journal article Heritage Science

Petro-Archaeometric Characterization of Potteries from a Kiln in Adrano, Sicily

Academic journal article Heritage Science

Petro-Archaeometric Characterization of Potteries from a Kiln in Adrano, Sicily

Article excerpt

Authors: Erica Aquilia (equal contributor) [1]; Germana Barone (equal contributor) [1]; Paolo Mazzoleni (equal contributor) [1]; Simona Raneri (corresponding author) (equal contributor) [1]; Gioconda Lamagna (equal contributor) [2]


The formation of reference groups represents an important procedure in archaeometric provenance studies of archaeological pottery. Materials from ancient kilns are thought especially suitable for reference groups, as they comprise a definite unit of production [1]. The discovery of a large number of kilns in Sicily and the presence of several clay formations suitable for ceramic manufacturing [2] suggests a prosperous production of potteries in ancient times. For these reasons, much research has been performed in recent years both on clays sediments [3]-[5] and kilns materials [6]-[10] with the aim of highlighting the features of Sicilian productions.

In the framework of the studies on circulation and production of ceramic artifacts in Sicily during Greek and Roman Age, several samples of kiln pottery fragments from a pit excavated at the fortification of Adrano (Sicily) [11],[12] have been studied. Historical sources established the foundation of the city by Dionysius I of Syracuse in V B.C.; however, some evidences suggest that a temple devoted to a local God named Adranos had previously been built. Due to its key position in the Aetnean area (Figure?1), at the end of the V century B.C., mercenaries from Siracusa established a settlement in the area of Adrano during a strategy of controlling the indigenous of Mendolito. The archeological evidence suggests a high relevance of the site from the Greek period related to the presence of a flourishing craft center (attested from IV to II century B. C.).

Figure 1: Geographic localization of the city of Adrano (Sicily). [see PDF for image]

Topographically, the city of Adrano is located on the Western slopes of the Volcano Etna. From a geological point of view, the area is mainly characterized by volcanic products. In details, from the bottom to upwards, the stratigraphic series is formed by Numidian Flysch Fm. (alternation of brown clay and thick strata of yellowish quartz-arenite; Upper Oligocene-Burdigalian), followed by grey-blue and brown marly clays with foraminifera fauna (Terravecchia Fm. - Upper Tortonian). This sedimentary cover is overlapped by Aetnenan volcanic products; in particular, the area is characterized by a tholeiitic lava plateau (S. Maria di Licodia Fm.), followed by more recent alkaline products. The top of the series is represented by alluvial deposits and volcaniclastic sediments (Simeto Fm.) [13].

An excavation in the area of the ancient city reveals the presence of a pit including numerous kiln wastes; among them, a set of 28 wastes of medium-coarse pottery (III-II century B.C.) labeled as AD# has been selected for petro-archeometric analyses. The studied materials are mainly represented by black and reddish varnished dishes exhibiting many manufacturing defects (i.e., vitrified surface with bubbles; deformation of surface; permanent waves on the rims). As examples, pictures of representative specimens are reported in Figure?2. In consideration of the importance of the city among the Sicilian potteries workshops, the petro-archaometric study of these artifacts has an important role in understanding the local manufacturing process in terms both technology and raw materials.

Figure 2: Pictures of some representative samples. AD2, AD12 and AD15 specimens are reported. [see PDF for image]


Macroscopic analysis

Preliminary macroscopic analysis have been carried out with the aim of distinguishing samples on the basis of grain size, porosity and clay paste color (specified by Munsell Index?=?M.I.;[14]). The observations allow us to distinguish samples in three different groups (Table?1). In detail, group I consists of twenty samples characterized by a medium-coarse grain and a compact clay paste; the color range from red (M. …

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