Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Figure 07

Various oil lamp styles
Pottery styles identify the periods: top row, from left, Iron 2A, Bronze/Iron/Maccabean, Herodian; bottom row, from left, Late Roman, Byzantine, Islamic.

This technique, called “ceramic typology”,  has become widely used in biblical archaeology for dating stratigraphic levels. Pottery is prolifically found on archaeological sites for a number of reasons. Pottery was inexpensive to manufacture and easily broken. Cooking pots broke only after a few usages from the high heat. With so much available pottery it was often disposed of as filler in walls, grout for aqueducts, and household decorations. Because clay (terracotta) pottery is virtually imperishable, it has become the most prolifically found artifact in any archaeological excavation square, almost anywhere on earth.

A helpful illustration is the evolution of the Coca-Cola container. From 1899–1902 Hutchinson glass bottles were short cylinder style; from 1900–1916 they were brown glass bottles with raised logos and triangle glued labels; in 1957 they were green glass bottles with raised logos and green glass bottles with white logos; in 1961 they were contour clear bottles with raised logos; in 1991 they were green glass bottles with white logos; in 1994 they were plastic litre bottles; and in 1955 to  the present they were aluminum cans.  The style easily identifies the manufacturing period. In a similar way the occupational period (strata) can be dated by the style of the ancient clay pottery.

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