LARG-News: The Byzantine petrology project

Volume 6, issue 2 (winter 1998-1999)

The Byzantine petrology project
by Ken Dark and J. Eyers

This archaeological project, undertaken for the Late Antiquity Research Group, seeks to use petrology to identify the sources of Byzantine ceramics and building materials. The project directors are Ken Dark (in regard to the archaeological and Byzantine aspects of the study) and Dr J. Eyers, a specialist on the geology of the eastern Mediterranean.

Petrology has the potential to resolve many significant questions relating to production, exchange and and supply within the Byzantine world. The technique permits the sourcing of clays used in pottery, brick and tile production, and the location of stone quarry areas. Thus, the sources of ceramics and building materials may be recognised and patterns of supply and trade investigated. The project has started by examining Middle and Late Byzantium fine-ware pottery but – if samples are available – it is hoped to work on Early Byzantine local wares and the sources of brick, tile, mosaic, opus sectile and other building materials of Early, Middle and Late Byzantine date.

The first group of Byzantine ceramics was processed in 1998, and the petrological results will be available during 1999. These are to be used as the basis for archaeological analysis, and the results published as a series of academic papers. The project will continue for several years, and samples of any size are sought from Byzantine buildings, floors and mosaics as well as ceramics of the types referred to above.

Readers of Gouden Hoorn/Golden Horn interested in obtaining further details regarding the donation of material for analysis should contact Dr Ken Dark, LARG, 324 Norbury Avenue London SW16 3RL or email: K.R.Dark[@]