Putting clays on the map: an interactive tool for identifying pottery raw materials from Cyprus per geological context

Christina Makarona, Maria Dikomitou-Eliadou, Costas Xenophontos, Karin Nys, Philippe Claeys

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


Ceramic provenance and raw material studies are closely related to geology. However, it can be challenging for non-specialists to identify, collect and interpret geological data for new projects or geographical areas. The goal of this work is to create a reference database and an interactive map of raw materials for ancient pottery production, to assist researchers investigating pottery from Cypriot archaeological contexts.

A review of published data relating to clay sources and the geological formations of Cyprus was conducted. Data was compiled from archaeological and geological literature and evaluated from the perspective of ceramic provenance studies. The data includes petrographic, mineralogical, elemental, and isotopic data.

An open source G.I.S. (Geographic Information System) platform was used to identify river catchment areas within the island based on surface relief. Each catchment area was treated as a self-contained region of interest, for each of which the following was evaluated: a) bedrock geology, b) clay types resulting from weathering of bedrock lithologies, c) types and distribution of possible mineral inclusions (based on bedrock lithology and surface relief), and d) geological materials that could be used as temper. The clay 'types' and temper materials resulting from this assessment were cross-referenced with literature sources and with field observations on specific regions (Larnaca lowlands, Troodos foothills). Comparison between theoretically expected and observed clays aided in refining and validating the G.I.S. model.

The dataset resulting from the above assessment is provided as an interactive G.I.S. map. This map and underlying database can serve as a first reference for archaeologists requiring more accessible information on the geology and clay sources of Cyprus. It can, consequently, be used as a tool for literature surveys and when planning field surveys within Cyprus. Finally, an interactive map based on the Google Earth ® platform is being investigated as a possible alternative for users not comfortable with a full G.I.S. interface.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13th European Meeting on Ancient Ceramics
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event13th European Meeting on Ancient Ceramics - Athens, Greece
Duration: 24 Sep 201526 Sep 2015


Conference13th European Meeting on Ancient Ceramics


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