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Technological and Social change in Phaistos, Crete, from the Final Neolithic through EMIIA

Principal Researcher: Roberta Mentesana (University of Sheffield, UK)

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The project investigates technological practices in pottery manufactured in the vicinity of Phaistos and the development and reproduction of the techniques over time.

A specific analytical protocol using petrographic and microstructural data, allied with macroscopic examination, is developed in order to better reconstruct the operational sequence of pottery manufacture. The analytical techniques adopted include Thin-Section Petrography, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) X-ray Diffraction (XRD) and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). The pXRF is occasionally used to investigate specific surface treatments. The use of these techniques is embedded in the chaîne opératoire approach that allows the investigation of paste recipes, forming methods, surface treatments and firing procedures. This methodology it is used to reconstruct all the sequence of actions and gestures employed by the potter to make the vessel and then the factors that impinged on the artefact manufacture. Testing whether this novel methodology is suitable to solve the issues posed is central to the project

The patterns in pottery production and consumption observed will be situated within an understanding of activities and architecture of Phaistos. The integration of the results with previous researches in the area allows consideration of the place of Phaistos within the Mesara Plain, the link with other regional pottery productions, the transmission of technological practices and the circulation of pottery within the region. Finally, it aims to provide comment on the Final Neolithic–Early Bronze Age transition in Crete in the light of narratives of technological change in metals and ceramics.