Article title: Considering Social Network Analysis: A Black Sea Case Study investigating trade dynamics in the Ancient Greek World

Authors: Holly Bartlet Balicki (ESR011 - N.C.S.R. "Demokritos"), Rempel J.

Source: Computer Applications in Archaeology in Greece Conference, page 96



This paper presents the results of research conducted to investigate the contribution of network approaches when exploring past interaction and connectivity within trade, using Greek transport amphorae data. Using social network analysis (SNA), a tool used to investigate social structure, static amphorae distribution data are brought together in a relational and dynamic way. A specific dataset generated from amphorae data collected from nineteen sites around the Black Sea, between the seventh and first centuries BCE, was used in the SNA. The Black Sea was an integral part of the protoglobal ancient world, however, for historical reasons, this region has been secondary to the interests of western scholars. Using the Black Sea as a case study not only revealed patterns in trade dynamics in this region, but also served to bring Black Sea studies to the foreground when studying the ancient Mediterranean. SNA was conducted over two case studies, applying bipartite and co- occurrence network approaches. This approach transformed small and disparate datasets into a cohesive body of evidence, helping to reveal dynamic patterns within the dataset through network graphs and metrics. This research has provided a proof of concept for SNA as a tool that can be used to investigate patterns related to trade dynamics through transport amphorae distributions. The results help to understand nuances between methodological approaches to material culture networks investigating ancient trade and demonstrates how patterns revealed using SNA can encourage researchers to ask new and valuable questions about archaeological data.

Keywords: social network analysis, Greek transport amphorae, Black Sea, Archaic period, Classical period, Hellenistic period, bipartite network, co-occurrence network

Article title: Plasters and mortars from the theatre in Nea Paphos (Cyprus): A multidisciplinary study

Authors: Paola Pizzo (ESR15, UTAM), Valek, J., Kozlovcev, P., Frankeova, D., Viani A.

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 57, 104595



The study of plasters and mortars constitutes a relevant tool in reconstructing the technological knowledge of the workforces at play. Through a multidisciplinary and multiscale approach, this project characterizes selected samples from the Hellenistic-Roman theatre in Nea Paphos (Cyprus), highlighting the characteristics of the raw materials, the productive processes, and the functional properties. Petrographic analysis combined with x-ray diffraction, thermal analysis and scanning electron microscopy allowed to collect a complete set of elemental, mineralogical and chemical data, all essential for the correct characterization of the samples.

According to our results, it appears clear that both Hellenistic and Roman workforces were able to exploit all the raw materials locally available, displaying a remarkable knowledgeability on how to enhance the performance of the mortar mixtures creating a durable and resistant material that survived to this day. Our results display how a conscient choice was made in the selection of the typologies of plasters and mortars for the fulfilment of different purposes. Furthermore, natural hydraulic lime (NHL) was identified in association with a water-related structure.

Keywords: Plaster, Hydraulic lime, Gypsum, Mortar analysis, Cypriot archaeology, Theatre architecture

Article title: A compositional and technological reassessment of the function of potters’ marks on Early Bronze Age sherds from Tell el-‘Abd, Syria. 

Authors: Anaya, S. C. (ESR06, UCL), Quinn, P. S., Amicone, S. And Sconzo, P.

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 55, 104492 


Abstract: A highly distinctive feature of the Early Bronze Age ceramic assemblage of the site of Tell el-‘Abd in northern Syria is the presence of large numbers of pots that were incised with a diverse range of symbols prior to firing. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the function of such ceramic “potters’ marks”. One is that they functioned as a signature or trademark used by potters or workshops to identify their work. Another possibility is that they were used for quality control or accounting purposes during manufacture. Alternatively, they may have signified vessels intended for specific customers, or the size or contents of the vessels. In the case of the Tell el-‘Abd potters’ marks, distinguishing between these possibilities has proven difficult based upon their macroscopic examination and archaeological context alone. The present research, therefore, attempts to shed further light on the function of the potters’ marks by studying the clay paste recipes of 33 ceramic samples using scientific methods. Thin section petrography, instrumental geochemistry and scanning electron microscopy have been used to characterise and classify sherds according to their raw materials and manufacturing technology. This has been compared to the type of potters’ mark and other archaeological information in order to test the hypotheses that the distinctive ceramic markings signified ceramics made at different production centres or distinguished between different artisans operating at the same workshop.

Keywords: Early Bronze Age, Middle Euphrates River Valley, Potters’ marks, Ceramic composition, Ceramic technology, Ceramic production

Article title: Where past meets the future: New mortar solutions for conservation of the buildings of Medieval Rhodes

Authors: Milica Radović (ESR10, NCSRD)

Source: ArchiDoct - open access journal for the dissemination of doctoral research in architecture


Abstract: The history of the building is almost as old as humankind. The research will explore the building tradition of Rhodes Island in the Dodecanese Islands complex placed in the southeast Mediterranean area, from the 6th century (Byzantine Empire) until the early XX century (Italian Occupation of Rhodes). The objective is to find out how the societies that inhabited this area throughout history, through their habits and traditions, impacted the building strategies and materials. The specific focus is on mortar as a building material and its technological development.In the past couple of decades, the emission of CO2 significantly increased, and we have become aware of the consequences this phenomenon carries with it. One of the biggest contaminators is the building industry. Many strategies are currently being developed to reduce CO2 emissions and preserve energy resources. Some studies have shown that the use of built cultural heritage has the potential for a more sustainable building solution. However, the CH buildings require specific treatment, following the principles and guidelines. Also, many of the CH buildings don’t fit today’s requirements regarding energy consumption levels. The traditio- nal materials have proven durable, standing the test of time, through centuries. Mortars are a good tool for upgrading the energy levels of heritage buildings because their discrete appearance aligns with the conser- vation philosophy of minimal intervention. Through the analysis of historic mortars, the research strives to find durable solutions used in the past. With the mixing of traditional and innovative materials, we go one step further to satisfy the requirements of today, as the cultures of the past did long before us. It is about what the past can do for the future and what can the future do for the past.

Keywords: built heritage, historic mortars, conservation, adaptive reuse, sustainability

Article title: Benchmarking the identification of a single degraded protein to explore optimal search strategies for ancient proteins

Authors: Ismael Rodriguez Palomo (ESR14, UCAM), Bharath Nair, Yun Chiang, Joannes Dekker, Benjamin Dartigues, Meaghan Mackie, Miranda Evans, Ruairidh Macleod, Jesper V. Olsen, Matthew J. Collins

Source: bioRxiv - The preprint server for Biology

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.12.15.571577

Abstract: Palaeoproteomics is a rapidly evolving discipline, and practitioners are constantly developing novel strategies for the analyses and interpretations of complex, degraded protein mixtures. The community has also established standards of good practice to interrogate our data. However, there is a lack of a systematic exploration of how these affect the identification of peptides, post-translational modifications (PTMs) and protein and their significance (through the False Discovery Rate) and correctness. We systematically investigated the performance of a wide range of sequencing tools and search engines in a controlled system: the experimental degradation of the single purified bovine β-lactoglobulin (BLG), heated at 95 °C and pH 7 for 0, 4 and 128 days. We target BLG since it is one of the most robust and ubiquitous proteins in the archaeological record. We tested different reference database choices, a targeted dairy protein one, and whole bovine proteome and three digestion options (tryptic-, semi-tryptic- and non-specific searches), in order to evaluate the effects of search space and the identification of peptides. We also explored alternative strategies, including open search that allows for the global identification of PTMs based upon wide precursor mass tolerance and de novo sequencing to boost sequence coverage. We analysed the samples using Mascot, MaxQuant, Metamorpheus, pFind, Fragpipe and DeNovoGUI (pepNovo, DirecTag, Novor), and we benchmarked these tools and discussed the optimal strategy for the characterisation of ancient proteins.

Article title: From Hellenistic slipped tableware to Roman Imperial Sagalassos Red Slip Ware: A petrographic and geochemical study

Authors: Chr. Kelepeshi (ESR04, KULeuven), D. Braekmans, Dr. Daems, J. Poblome, E. Vassilieva, P. Degryse 

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 53, February 2024, 104390



Abstract: This paper offers new insights from the petrographic and geochemical characterisation of 92 pottery samples from the archaeological site of Sagalassos in SW Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). The sampled table wares form part of the Hellenistic to Roman Imperial local pottery production lines. The aim of this study is to reconstruct in more detail the tableware production at the site and examine Sagalassos Red Slip Ware (SRSW) in comparison with the pre-existing Hellenistic tradition in slipped pottery. The results suggest that Hellenistic Colour Coated Ware (CCW) and Gray Ware with Black Slip (GWBS) were locally produced at the site using the same raw materials as the ones used for the subsequent mass-produced Sagalassos Red Slip Ware (SRSW), namely clays from the nearby NW parts of the valley of Çanaklı. SRSW appears thus as a continuation of the Hellenistic tradition in slipped pottery at Sagalassos, at least as far as some choices for clay raw materials are concerned. At the same time, this study provides for the first time evidence of regional production of a type of eastern sigillata that appears macroscopically similar to SRSW, while the number of identified imported wares to the polis of Sagalassos contributes new evidence to the discussion on the production of GWBS in the wider region of Anatolia and the origin of Eastern Sigillata A (ESA). Using the site of Sagalassos as a case-study, this research aims to demonstrate the importance of the analytical examination of pottery in a longue durée perspective in order to reconstruct ceramic traditions and better understand the local and regional sociocultural mechanisms behind them.

Keywords: Sagalassos; Tableware; Hellenistic-Roman Imperial period; Ceramic petrography; Geochemical analysis; Ceramic technology

Article title: Reassembling the pieces, reassessing the picture: an analytical study of medieval pottery (mid. twelfth–sixteenth c.) from Polis Chrysochous, Cyprus

Authors: Chr. Kelepeshi (ESR04, KULeuven),  J. Živković

Source: Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 16:8



Abstract: This paper presents the results of the analytical study of medieval pottery (mid. twelfth–sixteenth centuries AD), both glazed tableware and coarse wares, from a domestic structure uncovered at the site of Polis-Petrerades, Cyprus. A total of 50 samples were selected for scientific analysis, representing the main wares attested across the island from the Frankish (1192–1489) and Venetian (1489–1571) periods. This study follows an integrated approach to ceramic studies, which includes the classifica- tion of wares as well as petrographic and chemical analyses of selected samples, aiming to characterise ceramic bodies, slips and glazes. The results contribute to the reconstruction of production sequences that were, furthermore, interpreted within the archaeological and historical contexts of the period to address questions of ceramic production, potting traditions and distribution of medieval wares in Cyprus. Glazed tableware of different local workshops, namely Paphos and Lapithos, along with imports, reached that particular domestic building in the northwest of the island. Furthermore, local glazed and unglazed coarse wares were produced at different workshops than glazed tableware, the former showing a consistent preference for non-calcareous clays associated with the Troodos mountains. The heterogeneous character of the assemblage demonstrates the active participation of Polis Chrysochous within the regional and interregional trading routes of the period. At the same time, by focusing on a consumption context, this study reveals the potential that can be gained through the scientific analysis of both table and coarse wares from urban and rural sites of Medieval Cyprus.

Keywords: Medieval Cyprus · Glazed tableware · Cooking pots · Ceramic production · Slips · Lead glazes


Article title: Agios Petros and the Neolithic pottery-making traditions of the deserted islands, Northern Sporades, Greece.

Authors: Barouda, A. (ESR07, UCL), Quinn, P. S. and Efstratiou, N. 

Source: Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 15: 16.


Abstract: The Neolithic sites of the Cyclops Cave and Agios Petros provide insights into a once flourishing culture that inhabited the ‘Deserted Islands’ of the northern Sporades in the Greek north Aegean. Building on scientific analysis of ceramics from the seasonally inhabited Cyclops Cave, the present study examines in detail 39 sherds from the permanently settled site of Agios Petros on the adjacent island of Kyra Panagia, using a combination of thin section petrography, geochemistry, scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction. The two ceramic assemblages have been directly compared, revealing close similarities and differences that provide insights into the relationship between the neighbouring sites and their functions. The chaîne opératoire of the dominant local pottery-making tradition of the Deserted Islands is reconstructed and its implications for the identity of the Agios Petros-Yioura/Northern Sporades Culture are considered.

Article title: Making and working Egyptian blue – a review of the archaeological evidence

Authors: I. Kovalev (ESR02, CyI), A.S. Rodler, C. Brøns, Th. Rehren

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 153



Abstract: As the earliest artificial pigment, Egyptian blue has a millennia-long history of production, processing/working, and use. This paper offers a review of the published archaeological evidence for Egyptian blue production, aiming to identify common and potentially diagnostic criteria for each process step to aid future identification and interpretation of Egyptian blue workshops sensu lato. We identify systematic differences in the production evidence between Late Bronze Age and Hellenistic to Late Roman sites, respectively, and propose a model to distinguish between primary production and secondary/artistic processing of Egyptian blue. Finally, we note the absence of direct evidence for the production and processing of Egyptian blue for much of the known period of its use.

Keywords: Egyptian blue; Ancient pigment manufacturing; Crucibles; High-temperature processes