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The Catalogue: Boon or Bane? Workshop on the publication of pottery

Pottery is the most abundant class of object on most archaeological sites and forms a critically important source of information about the site and those who lived there. Whatever strategies are adopted for the sorting, recording, and storage of pottery, the ultimate challenge is to present this material to the wider public through publication in an optimally useful form. New standards of recovery, along with a greater awareness of the value of ceramic evidence for a host of research questions, require new strategies for publication. Old formats, however, continue to dominate the field. Pottery has traditionally been presented in a catalogue, in which each object is treated like a work of art. More is now included and described, however, than was the norm when the format was developed. Shape and decoration are given more comprehensively, greater attention is given to fabric and technical details, and comparanda have become more numerous. This has resulted in ever lengthier catalogues, which add tremendously to the cost and labor of publication, yet are still inadequate for the presentation of some of the kinds of information that are most important to the users of these publications. This workshop will bring together scholars publishing excavation ceramics with an eye to developing new standards and formats for pottery publication. The participants have experience with pottery from a range of eras and sites within the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East, and each of us has had to solve problems inherent in its publication. Most of us are not entirely happy with the solutions we have devised. We, like our intended audience, are contemplating future projects where the realities of publication should be kept in mind from the start. Through this workshop and the discussions that it generates we hope to work towards new and more practical models for pottery publication.

Author(s):  Rotroff, Susan I. [Organizer]
Format:  Presentation
Date:  1996