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4. The Project Aims

4.1 Introduction to project aims

The Project has at its core a series of interrelated aims (cf. Section 2) which the various elements of the study are directed to addressing. The aims are specified here, expanding upon the outline given in Section 2.

4.2 The compilation of an accessible dataset

The Project has aimed to produce an accessible, flexible and nuanced dataset of samian pottery in Britain. In constructing the dataset, care has been taken to ensure that it is broad and representative, and of a nature that will allow a series of research questions to be addressed. Inevitably representativeness is dependent upon such factors as where archaeological work has been undertaken, pottery report methodologies, and how results and information have been presented in the public domain. The latter aspects have, in the past, been far from standardized (cf. Appendix 4.1). The formats in which the various types of samian information are presented here are aimed at making this information easy to assimilate for all users, independent of their background and experience.

4.3 A framework for dating samian groups

A Project aim has been to explore the possibility of providing an 'easy reference' framework by which the non-specialist might ascertain an approximate date for groups of samian. Amongst other purposes the database (cf. Section 5) was assembled to see the extent to which it may provide a guide by which groups of samian, whether newly recovered or from previous work, or whether excavated or from surface collection, may be approximately dated, by the non-specialist.

Samian forms (plain and decorated) and their relative prominence within assemblages changes over time. Hence, by examining these trends systematically it was thought possible that something of a normal 'finger print' for samian groups through time might be established, in terms of presence and ratios of vessel forms. Hence the non-specialist, by establishing which forms they have present in their group and in what proportions (a relatively straight forward task since the forms are consistent, fairly distinctive and well characterized (eg. Webster 1996)), might consult the database as a guide to the date of their group (see below, Section 5.3.2).

4.4 Examining the chronology of samian forms

A specific aim has been to use the database to examine the chronology of samian form types as they occur in stratified site groups, and endeavour to be place the dating of forms upon a robust footing predicated upon the stratified and dated incidence of the type. The database has been constructed from integral, stratified groups of samian that have been assigned a date on the basis of a range of archaeological criteria (cf. Section 5). Information on the quantity of each form type present within a group has been entered into the database under the years comprising the date range of the group. From the amalgamation of all the groups in the sample it becomes a straight forward task to establish the relative frequency of each samian type year on year, approximating to its life-span (cf. Section 5). This method enables the traditional chronology of the individual samian types to be examined (tested) against a large body of stratified cases. These data are likely to reveal a good impression of the use, life-cycle and turnover of types at a general, province wide level, and provide a datum against which samples from individual sites may be compared. This approach should help to place chronological knowledge of samian on a firmer footing.

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Last updated: Mon Mar 7 2005