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Trends in ceramic assemblages from the Northwest Quarter of Gerasa/ Jerash, Jordan

New publication by I. Romanowska, A. Lichtenberger and R. Raja.

Romanowska, I., Lichtenberger, A. & Raja, R. (2021). "Trends in ceramic assemblages from the Northwest Quarter of Gerasa/ Jerash, Jordan", Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 36: 102778. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102778


Past peoples left behind preciously little for us to reconstruct their daily lives and histories. However, some types of archaeological material stand the test of time better than others thanks to their durability and ubiquity, and foremost among them: the ceramic evidence. Pottery often serves as a proxy for the reconstruction of a variety of aspects of a past life: the wealth of city inhabitants, the function of spaces (Smith, 1987), cultural transmission between craftsmen (Coto-Sarmiento et al., 2018) or trading interactions (Brughmans and Poblome, 2016). However, to take full advantage of the wealth of information that can be derived from pottery evidence it is essential to use robust analytic methods establishing the full distribution in ceramic use and discard and its evolution over time.

Here, we present a comprehensive data analysis of ceramic material coming from the Northwest Quarter of Jerash, present-day Jordan. It is one of the first examples of full quantification of an archaeological site of this age in the region. More than 625 000 pieces of pottery have been collected, recorded and analysed. We describe the process of data preparation, cleaning, exploratory analysis and statistical examination as well as visualisation. All steps of data analysis have been undertaken in the Python scripting environment making the process entirely transparent, reproducible and reusable for other researchers. We showcase how full quantification combined with quantitative analysis can lead to detection of significant trends in pottery evolution over centuries and enable robust comparative studies in the region and beyond.