The UP Archaeology Ceramics Laboratory was established in 2017 as a research facility that specifically investigates archaeological ceramics. It is the only dedicated ceramic research facility in southern Africa.
Research at the lab aims to establish choices of raw materials and manufacturing techniques and vessel functions. Working with these data in combination with studies of vessel shapes and decorative elements, it is possible to shed light on questions concerning distribution of the ceramic materials in the past. By combining the results of several independent analyses, it is possible to gain information concerning different traditions of handicraft as well as contacts and relations between different groups of people. A further aim of ceramology is to reach beyond the pottery itself and try to grasp the activities in ancient society and thus create a contact with prehistoric man.
The different methods of analysis we use are chosen and modified to this end, and furthermore applied in relation to type of material and to the specific culture historical research questions. This entails that an analysis may proceed through several levels employing increasingly sophisticated methods depending on the research problem. Data from these analyses may be interpreted from the viewpoint of the producer and the consumer of the ceramic artefact and gives descriptions of the raw materials to locate potential sources of the raw clay used in the manufacture of pots, crucibles, tuyérs, moulds, furnaces etc.
Analyses available at the lab and other research facilities at UP include:
- Petrographic microscopy of ceramic thin sections,
- XRF-, and XRD analysis
- Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
The lab also offers its analytical services for outside researchers. Please contact Anders Lindah or Xander Antonites in this regard.