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Book: Searching for Structure in Pottery Analysis

Chapter: From Structure to Composition and Back: Digital Radiography and Computed Tomography; Some Cases for Anthropological Contemplation

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.24653


In this chapter we discuss the elaboration of radiographic pottery analysis as a structure-oriented technique with an emphasis on its newer iterations in digital radiography (DR) and X-ray computed tomography (XCT). Our focus is to present several important alterations to our thinking about “structural” and “compositional” data in archaeometric and archaeological theory that have been provoked by our interaction with DR and XCT analysis over the last ten years. In so doing, we hope to show how a renewed focus on ceramic structure can bring equal weight to structure and composition in pottery analysis, and facilitate a program of research that emphasizes the social import of the vessel as product, tool, and technology. We first briefly review methods of DR and XCT analysis, as well as their common applications and requirements in the study of archaeological pottery. We then provide a few specific examples of the secondary data produced by radiographic and tomographic imaging during the course of our work with assemblages from three distinct Eurasian locales incorporating diverse research questions. Finally, we offer insights from our radiographic research in order to contribute to the more general discussion about structure and composition that occupies this volume.

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