3.0 Methodology

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Twenty-one samples, representing a range of vessel types found in the workshop, were taken from both fired and unfired sherds and from finished vessels. These were prepared as thin sections and examined using a Leica DMR microscope. Also available for study as potential raw materials were a sample of unfired clay recovered from the workshop during the 1930s excavations and samples of modern local sediment kindly provided by Yuval Goren. Both were formed into briquettes and fired in an oxidising atmosphere at c. 700° C. before being prepared as thin sections.

The binocular microscope was used initially to investigate the fabric of three mould-made plaque figurines (including one unfired example) and a fragment of a simple pottery negative press mould used to make similar figurines (Figure 3). Thin sections were later prepared from the mould and from a small sample of clay from the unfired figurine which was impregnated with Petropoxy 154.

One of the fired vessels examined in thin section was selected because it had a potter's mark incised into the body before firing. Although the vessel, a fragmentary bowl (Figure 9:20 and Figure 11), was published in Lachish IV (Tufnell 1958, pl.68.536) it was not discussed in any detail, giving the impression that the excavators assumed it to be a product of the workshop. We expected petrography to confirm this provenance and thus identify the incised mark as that of the 'Lachish potter'.

In order to elucidate the activities of the workshop fully, a number of other scientific methods were applied. These included X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy (with elemental analysis using an energy-dispersive X-ray analyser accessory), which were used to analyse pigments and investigate the textures of the fired ceramics, and xeroradiography, which was used to supplement visual observation in the examination of forming techniques used by the Lachish potters. However, these aspects of the project have been described elsewhere (Magrill and Middleton, in press) and will not be discussed further here.


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Last updated: Tue Oct 24 2000