(guest post by Peter Mizanski)
Upon my return to the harbors of Burgaz, one of my first tasks this season was an introduction to sorting ceramic sherds by their fabrics. Last year I sorted ceramics by functional groups, including transport wares, common ware, cooking ware, fine ware, and assorted bricks and tiles. This year I learned how to group the ceramics recovered from the harbors in 2014 by their different fabrics.
The fabrics of ceramics are determined by the composition of the clay and other materials of construction. This process involves first clipping off a piece of the sherd in order to observe with an eyeglass lens a clear view of the composition of the ceramic. At this point, studying such things as the texture of the clay as well as the inclusion of temper (extra material added to the clay in order to strengthen the vessels) allowed me to begin grouping. The sherds in the number and type of natural inclusions and temper such as quartz, sand, or grog (small bits of ground up, recycled pottery). Through this method of sorting, I have gained an even greater appreciation of the ceramic finds at Burgaz as I think through the differences between local and imported fabrics in use at the site.