The Artefact and Archive Research Group (AARG) is a friendly group who meet weekly to process many of the archaeological finds resulting from current excavations in Surrey.
Pottery is an important type of evidence because it survives under the soil for thousands of years. Even when pottery is broken into tiny pieces, it can still tell us something about the past. Pottery is an important tool in dating contexts in an excavation and helping to inform an understanding of the people who occupied an archaeological site.
Pottery has two attributes that lend it great potential to inform the study of human activity in the past. The material a pot is made from, known to specialists as the FABRIC, consists of clay and inclusions that can be identified to locate the site at which a pot was made, as well as indicate methods of manufacture and date.
The overall shape of a pot, together with the character of component parts such as rims and handles, and also the technique and style of decoration, can be studied as the FORM. This can indicate when and how a pot was made and used, as well as serving to define cultural affinities.
On-site we carry out the initial sorting, cleaning and marking of artefacts as they leave the trenches.
Further work is carried out at our weekly evening meetings and occasional day sessions where we analyse the pottery and attempt to date it. Recent work has included processing artefacts from the prehistoric, Roman, medieval and post medieval periods.
Pottery analysis is a very important part of the post-excavation process that has to be carried out before a site report can be written. It can also be a fun social activity, and is a way to learn more about archaeological artefacts.
Prior experience is not necessary, just a keen interest to learn about archaeological finds processing.
We meet on a Wednesday night at ‘The Rovers Den’, Ockham Parish Rooms, which is near Ripley and easily accessible from the A3.
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