Michela Spataro's research while affiliated with Science Museum London and other places

Publications (32)

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This study presents the results of analyses of ceramics from one of the rare excavated kiln sites that produced amphorae and common wares in Ptolemaic Egypt (332–30 BC), at Kom Dahab in the Western Nile Delta. Ceramics from the kiln trench, unfired ceramics and specific classes of transport, table and kitchen vessels were analysed by polarised micr...
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The shell-midden site of Riņņukalns in northern Latvia offers a rare opportunity to study long-term trends in ceramic production and function at a European hunter-fisher-gatherer site. Riņņukalns was occupied from the sixth millennium BC, with the midden developing from the later fourth millennium. Here, the authors discuss the chaîne opératoire an...
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This paper describes the results of the surveys carried out along Ras Muari (Cape Monze, Karachi, Sindh) by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Lower Sindh and Las Bela in  and . The surveyed area coincides with part of the mythical land of the Ichthyophagoi, mentioned by the classical chroniclers. Many archaeological sites, mainly scatte...
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This paper describes the results of the surveys carried out along Ras Muari (Cape Monze, Karachi, Sindh) by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Lower Sindh and Las Bela in 2013 and 2014. The surveyed area coincides with part of the mythical land of the Ichthyophagoi, mentioned by the classical chroniclers. Many archaeological sites, mainly scatte...
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This paper concerns Sasanian to Early Islamic period transport containers, usually lined with bitumen, known as Torpedo jars. Widely distributed throughout the western Indian Ocean, with outliers as far west as Egypt and to the east in Indonesia, they are an important marker of maritime exchange. Their area of production is thought to be central/so...
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40 potsherds and five other fired clay fragments from the prehistoric site of Nova Nadezhda in Bulgarian Thrace were analysed by archaeometric techniques. Twenty sherds and a daub fragment were analysed in thin section by optical microscopy; these thin sections, and thick sections of a further 24 sherds were also analysed by SEM-EDX. Results were u...
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This paper presents for the first time the results of a combination of petrographic, geochemical and organic residue analyses of early Neolithic ceramics from the Iron Gates region of the Danube basin. Eleven early Neolithic potsherds from Schela Cladovei (Romania) were analysed in detail. The results of the petrographic analysis show that the cera...
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In 1969-70, a single Tang dynasty blue-spotted Gongyi sherd was found at Siraf, Iran, the main trading port on the Persian Gulf in the early Islamic period. This is the only known example of Chinese blue-and-white ware, whether low-or high-fired, found in the Middle East from such an early date. The sherd provides direct archaeological evidence for...
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The interdisciplinary study of Egyptian- and Greek-style pottery found in the Nile Delta aims to test and expand the potential of different scientific methods to identify regional variation and cultural traditions in ceramic fabrics from a relatively uniform geological setting. Neutron activation analysis (NAA), polarised light microscopy and SEM-E...
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Amara West, built around 1300 BC, was an administrative centre for the pharaonic colony of Upper Nubia. In addition to producing hand- and wheel-made pottery, respectively, in Nubian and Egyptian style, Amara West also imported a wide range of ceramics from Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean. A scientific study of 18 Mycenaean-style ceramics was u...
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This paper presents scientific analyses of Neolithic pottery from Miloje Vasić’s 1930–34 excavations at Vinča‐Belo Brdo, which has long been a key site in south‐eastern European prehistory. Results show a series of changes in the chaîne opératoire of pottery production, both between the early Neolithic Starčevo and middle–late Neolithic Vinča perio...
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Fragments of possible fired clay found at Boncuklu Höyük, central Turkey, appear to derive from rudimentary vessels, despite the later ninth- and early eighth-millennium cal. bc and thus ‘Aceramic’ dates for the site. This paper will examine the evidence for such fired clay vessels at Boncuklu and consider their implications as examples of some of...
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In this article 12 fired clay samples and an unfired marl sample from the late 9th and early 8th millennium cal BC site of Boncuklu Höyük (8300-7800. cal. BC) in the Konya Plain, Turkey, were analysed by optical microscopy and SEM-EDX. The plant remains in the pottery fabrics were also examined in the variable pressure scanning electron microscope....
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Ceramics appeared in southern Russia at about the same time as in southern Europe, at ca. 6000 cal BC, but whilst pottery was introduced into southern Europe, together with plant and animal domesticates, from southwest Asia, early Neolithic pottery in eastern Europe was probably developed locally by hunter-gatherers, or derived from other pre-agric...
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Zamostje 2, on the Dubna River, c.100km north of Moscow, appears to offer an ideal opportunity to understand the relative and absolute chronology of Upper Volga Early Neolithic pottery. More than 100 radiocarbon (14C) dates are available from a stratigraphic sequence which spans from the Late Mesolithic to the Middle Neolithic. All typological stag...
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This article presents the curatorial context of a newly discovered fragment of Minoan faience, now in the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery (BCMAG), and the technological study conducted on this piece at the British Museum. It also discusses the British Museum study of comparable fragments, now in the Ashmolean Museum, belonging to the Town Mosai...
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Forty-three pottery samples from the New Kingdom site at Amara West in Nubia (Sudan) were analysed by optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry to identify pottery potentially produced at the site. Twenty-two samples from modern local alluvial soils, modern locally made pottery and archaeological mater...
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We analysed a faience fragment from Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, to determine whether it belonged to the Town Mosaic, excavated at Knossos. Three Town Mosaic fragments from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford were also examined. The objects were analysed using non-destructive variable-pressure scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray s...
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The opportunity was taken in 2010 to carry out a full scientific and technical examination of the brass head from Ife, popularly known as the Olokun head, first published in 1912 by Leo Frobenius, together with a selection of other Ife heads that came to London for exhibition at the British Museum. This was especially appropriate as on its last vis...
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This paper provides the first scientific comparison between pottery production in the early Neolithic Starčevo-Criş and middle Neolithic Vinča cultures of south-eastern Europe. The author investigates whether Starčevo-Criş pottery technology was transmitted to the succeeding Vinča culture, which in other respects was more complex and technologicall...
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This paper deals with the importance of chemical analyses in characterising prehistoric pottery fabrics. Two three-year projects focussed on the minero-petrographic and SEM/EDS analyses of the oldest pottery from south-east Europe (ca. 6000 cal BC). Whereas in the Impressed Ware culture of the Adriatic region, optical microscopy was sufficient to i...
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From the third century bc to the second century ad small detailed central panels (emblemata) made using the opus vermiculatum technique were used as focal points in larger mosaic pavements. They were custom made in stone or terracotta trays to facilitate their transport and placement. Although mosaic panels in opus vermiculatum have been discovered...
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Two papers on the Radiocarbon Chronology of the Early Neoithic sites of the Balkan Peninsula and the spread of Neolithization in the region
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The scope of this paper is twofold: 1) to present and discuss the results of a new series of absolute dates obtained from the Starèevo-Criº sites ofRomania andVojvodina, in order to establish a first radiocarbon chronology of the Early Neolithic of the region, and correlate them with the pottery typological sequence already known for the same perio...
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Preliminary study of the Buddhist city of Seeraj-ji-takri in the central part of the Rohri Hills (Khairpur, Upper Sindh) that, according to the radiocarbon dating, was destroyed during the eighth century AD
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Book description: Eighteen papers from a 2005 conference at UCL, which aim to give a picture of current research into the Starcevo-Cris material culture, the earliest central Balkan Neolithic culture. Key topics include the origin and spread of the Neolithic, settlement patterns and subsistence strategies of the first farmers, their technology and...

Citations

... 14 C ages of food-crusts on pottery suggest that the local FRE at Zamostje 2 in the Early Neolithic was moderate, but not negligible, with one fish-derived food-crust dating 271±69 14 C years older than a contemporaneous plant fibre (Meadows et al., 2015). While it is dangerous to extrapolate from a single sample, dietary reservoir effects at Zamostje 2 may have been relatively modest, compared to the examples listed above, particularly in the Late Mesolithic. Figure 10 shows possible calibrated dates for individual samples (following e.g. ...
... The site of Sonari yielded evidence of a few rectangular stone-walled structures systematically oriented in east-west or north-south direction, whose floor is covered with Meretrix marine bivalves (Fig. 7, bottom). The presence of numerous net sinkers (Fig. 8) and a great amount of marine and mangrove shells show that fishing and molluscs gathering were two of the most important activities practised at the site, which flourished during the fifth millennium BP, according to many AMS radiocarbon dates obtained from mangrove and marine shells (Biagi et al. 2020). ...
... Recent petrographic and geochemical analysis of the clay fabric and bitumen lining of torpedo jars, and isotopic analysis of the latter, point firmly to a source for their production within southwest Iran, with some possible minor variation indicating different locations of production across this wider area ( [1,13,21]). Again, the associations between different material compositions and typological variation offer a further important avenue for investigation. ...
... In this instance, organic tempering may have aided workability and clay stiffness in relation to the need for such thick-walled vessels to hold their shape during forming, drying, and firing, as well as potentially helping to make such large vessels lighter for portability. Indeed, Vuković has suggested that portability was the principal concern for potters, potentially related to population mobility, and this is why organic tempering was such a prevalent raw material choice in Starčevo pottery making (Vuković 2019, 174;Spataro 2019, 362-363;Spataro et al. 2019) The second common bowl type is biconical ( fig. 2), usually made in two halves that were then stuck together with the join usually being visible at the carination of the belly. These vessels are much smaller than the conical types, with a rim diameter of 15-20 cm, a wall thickness of 0.5-0.7 | 77 cm, and a height of around 15 cm. ...
... It is therefore not uncommon to see debates on the connections between the emergence of metallurgy and the Gradac Phase of Vinča culture ceramic sequence, or the relationship between the development of metallurgy and the widespread graphite painted decoration on the ceramics of the Kodžadermen-Gumelniţa-Karanovo IV (KGK IV) cultural complex (e.g. Amicone et al. , 2020bGarašanin 1994Garašanin /1995Jovanović 1971Jovanović , 1994Jovanović , 2006Radivojević et al. 2010a;Radivojević and Kuzmanović Cvetković 2014;Renfrew 1969;Spataro et al. 2019;Spataro and Furholt 2020;Todorova 1995;Todorova and Vajsov 1993). As is now widely acknowledged in Balkan and world prehistory, the creation of spatial and temporal frameworks through the identification of similarities and differences in materials and practices continues to evade researchers; straightforward explanations are unlikely (cf. ...
... Another port city, Siraf in Iran, also contained one Tang blue-and-white sherd made in the Gongyi kiln (Spataro et al., 2019;Wood & Priestman, 2016). As the richest port on the Persian side of the Gulf, Siraf owed prosperity to the Eastern trade, and it dominated the Gulf until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 977 CE (Schafer, 1963, p. 12). ...
... This is despite the fact that other materials such as ceramics, flint, polished stone, obsidian and spondylus (e.g. Amicone et al. 2020a;Ifantidis and Nikolaidou 2011;Klimscha 2016Klimscha , 2020Milić 2015;Spataro 2018;Windler 2018; were also comparably, if not much more extensively, sourced, shaped, traded and/or deposited in settlements and graves prior to, and along with, metal objects. It is evident that, especially in the last decade, many major Balkan Neolithic-Chalcolithic projects have explicitly sought to go beyond traditional metal-orientated perspectives, especially given the infinitely larger scale and depth of the non-metallurgical archaeological and environmental record. ...
... Among For the analysis of cross-sections, it is advantageous to use laser ablation coupled with ICP-MS since it has a suitable resolution (i.e., tens of micrometres) [3,6,[11][12][13]. Among other techniques of elemental analysis, thermal ionisation mass spectrometry [7,8], secondary ion mass spectrometry [14], particle induced X-ray or gamma ray spectroscopy [4,5], X-ray diffraction [1,9], laser induced breakdown spectrometry [15], neutron activation analysis [16] or X-ray photoelectron spectrometry [17] have been applied for glaze/faience analyses. Methods of molecular spectroscopy, such as Raman spectroscopy or infrared spectroscopy, are often utilised for the determination of the mineralogical structure of studied materials [18,19]. ...
... Tragacanth (Astragalus sp.) is thought to have grown in Turkey and the east coast of the Mediterranean [35]; pistacia resin and bitumen were imported from the same area [41]. Both bitumen and pistacia resin-materials used as pigment and varnish, respectively-have been identified at Sai and Amara West [9,13], along with ceramics from the eastern Mediterranean and Levant [42,43]. Trading networks that would allow the supply of binding materials from the eastern Mediterranean were clearly extant. ...
... These circum-Aegean sites are, despite some contextual variation in material culture and architecture (Horejs 2019), demonstrably comparable in their economic organization, with all the major Southwest Asian domesticates present (Arbuckle et al. 2014;Atıcı et al. 2017;Çilingiroğlu 2017). They also represent radical breaks with prior Mesolithic traditions in terms of architecture, material culture, and technological organization (Çilingiroğlu 2017;Milić 2019;Runnels 1995); their pottery-a technology that, recent discoveries in central Anatolia notwithstanding (Fletcher et al. 2017), seems to postdate 6800/6700 bc-and chipped stone assemblages, in particular, are strikingly similar. This synchronous appearance of the farming lifestyle in western Anatolia and the Balkan Peninsula suggests maritime colonization. ...