Fall 2004 / Wednesdays 9:10 - 12:25

Deborah Carlson, Ph.D., Nautical Archaeology Program


Contact Information

Office Hours: Tue 4-5, Wed 2-4 in Anthropology 107B / 862-1208 /


Course Objectives

This graduate seminar surveys the major pottery shapes and styles produced in the Mediterranean from the Bronze Age until the Medieval Period.  The course is intended to provide students of Mediterranean archaeology with a working knowledge of and familiarity with the most diagnostic ancient ceramics, including transport and storage containers, utilitarian vessels, and decorated finewares.


Our primary goal in this course will be to characterize and contextualize the primary pottery types of the Greek and Roman Mediterranean.  The material to be covered is organized regionally and chronologically; ancillary topics include recording techniques and methods of scientific analysis.  Where possible, we will consider issues related to the production, use, and export of ancient pottery, but our first priority will be to familiarize ourselves with the shapes, styles, sites, and sources of ancient Mediterranean ceramics.


Course Schedule:


Sep 1 Pottery in Archaeology


Sep 8 The Bronze Age Quiz #1
Sep 15 Iron Age Greece and Cyprus Quiz #2
Sep 22 Techniques for Analysis & Recording Project #1
Sep 29 Corinth and Punic North Africa Quiz #3
Oct 6 The Western Mediterranean Project #2
Oct 13 East Greece Quiz #4
Oct 20 No Class  
Oct 27 Classical Athens Paper #1
Nov 3 Hellenistic Greece  
Nov 10 Roman Italy Project #3
Nov 17 San Antonio Museum of Art Paper #2
Nov 24 The Roman Provinces Quiz #5
Dec 1 Late Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval Paper #3



Your grade for this course will be calculated according to the following formula:

                        Preparedness and participation                    20%

                        Quizzes (5)                                                      25%

                        Projects (3)                                                     25%

                        Papers  (3)                                                      30%


Students are expected to arrive in class having completed and ready to discuss the assigned readings; the participation portion of the final grade is not a “fudge factor.”  For each of the five quizzes, students will be asked to identify approximately five different ceramic vessels according to their shape, function, decoration, style, and date.  The three small written projects (due September 22, October 6, and November 10) are intended to familiarize students with the description, recording, analysis, and research of ancient ceramics.  Detailed instructions for the individual projects will be circulated in class. 


Finally, in the second half of the semester, students will be expected to generate three short research papers (due October 27, November 17, and December 1).  Each paper should be approximately 1500 words / 5-6 pages in length and formatted according to the American Journal of Archaeology guidelines.  While the choice of subject matter is open (a short list of suggested topics appears at the end of the syllabus), students will be expected to produce papers that are thoughtfully planned, neatly organized, well written, and cogently argued.



There are thousands of sources on ancient pottery; the bibliography assembled here focuses on those English sources specific to ancient Mediterranean.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, but is intended to get us started on a general footing. 


Among the most important resources for the study of ancient ceramics are the assemblages from the major ongoing excavations such as those at Corinth (DF261 C65 A6), Isthmia (DF261 I85 B76), Miletos (DF261 M5 M5), Morgantina (DG70 M66 M67), Olympia (DF261 O5 O4) and Perachora (DF261 P4 B7), to name a few.  Students are strongly encouraged to peruse, consult, and reference these site reports, especially those of the Athenian Agora (DF287 A23 A5), which include the following important volumes:


vol. 5 (1959)    Robinson, H.S.  Pottery of the Roman period: chronology.

vol. 8 (1962)    Brann, E.T.H.  Late geometric and protoattic pottery, mid 8th to late 7th century B.C.

vol. 12 (1970)  Sparkes, B.A. and L. Talcott.  Black and plain pottery of the 6th, 5th, and 4th centuries B.C.

vol. 22 (1982)  Rotroff, S.I.  Hellenistic pottery: Athenian and imported moldmade bowls.

vol. 23 (1986)  Moore, M.B., M.Z. Pease-Philippides, and D. von Bothmer.  Attic black-figured pottery.

vol. 29 (1997)  Rotroff, S.I.  Hellenistic pottery: Athenian and imported wheelmade table ware and related material.

vol. 30 (1997)  Moore, M.B.  Attic red-figured and white-ground pottery.


The Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum or CVA (NK4640 C6 G4) has been published since 1923 and now consists of more than 300 fascicles, organized by country.  The CVA is an ongoing project dedicated to the publication of ancient vases in public museums and private collections from all over the world.  The plates are unbound and older volumes are fragile so please handle with care!  The CVA can be navigated easily using Carpenter and Mannack’s Summary Guide to Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum (NK4640 C6 Z95 2000).


Two additional sources, indispensable for the study of Attic figured pottery, are J.D. Beazley’s Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters or ABV (1978) and Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters or ARV2 (1963).  Each is arranged chronologically and by group, with indexes by museum and iconography.  Paralipomena (NK4648 B43) and the Beazley Addenda (NK4648 C26 1989) are supplements that include painters and vases discovered or attributed since the publication of ABV and ARV2.


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Online Resources:                                                               Study Group for Roman Pottery                                            Atlas of Roman Pottery               Amphoras Project                                                  Beazley Archive                                                  Perseus Digital Library