Fire! Fire! – Or why archaeologists investigate ancient firing technologies

TwoRains Blog

Hi again – it is Alessandro, your friendly neighbourhood ceramic specialist.

In the last few weeks, I have been busy re-firing some archaeological ceramics in a furnace at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. You might ask “Why do you put ancient pottery in an oven?” Although it is a relatively relaxing activity, there are reasons why we undertake the study of ancient pyro-technologies (from Greek πυρ, pyr, fire).

In the process of producing pottery, the firing stage – and in particular temperatures and structures used – give us important insights into technologies and manufacturing techniques. The sequence of actions that transform clay objects into durable ceramics is one of the crucial stages of ceramic production, and it is possibly the most dramatic. There are a number of approaches that can be used to understand ancient pyro-technologies, ranging from experimental archaeology to analytical techniques. In the photos below, you…

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