Université de Bordeaux
LabEx LaScArBxCluster of Excellence
Cluster of excellence

The production of ceramics in the ancient Mediterranean world: the example of Iberia

The production of ceramics in the ancient Mediterranean world: the example of Iberia

Ceramic items provide the opportunity, among other things, to study the cultural and socio-economic functioning of ancient societies, but we have considered aspects linked to the manufacturing of pottery more rarely, and those linked to the general framework of production, more rarely still.


Porteur duprojet 
: Alexis Gorgues (Ausonius, CNRS, UBM) 

Partenaires :

José Antonio Benavente Serrano (Consortium Patrimonio Iberico de Aragón, porteur)

Ayed Ben Amara (archéométrie, MCF, UBM, CRP2A)

Alexandre Bertaud (archéologie, assistant au RO, doctorant UBM, Ausonius)

Nadia Cantin (archéométrie, IE CNRS, CRP2A)

Florent Comte (ingénieur contractuel, infographie 3D et relevés 3D de terrain)

Nicolas Frèrebeau (archéométrie, doctorant contractuel UBM, CRP2A)

Michel Pernot (archéométrie, DR CNRS, CRP2A)

Charlotte Sacilotto (archéologie, analyse céramique)

Financement : 41 029€  + cofinancements : région Aquitaine et Université Bordeaux Montaigne (PSE)

Durée du projet : Sept. 2012 – Déc. 2014

Mots clés : Céramique, atelier, archéologie, archéométrie, âge du Fer, péninsule Ibérique, méthodologie



“Studying the procedures for constituting the technical Iberian pottery culture in the context of the Ancient Mediterranean”


Ceramic items provide the opportunity, among other things, to study the cultural and socio-economic functioning of ancient societies, but we have considered aspects linked to the manufacturing of pottery more rarely, and those linked to the general framework of production, more rarely still.  


The “Ceramic production in the Mediterranean world” project is about the technological, social and economic conditions of ceramic production in a specific region of Western Europe during the Iron Age: the Iberian region. It combines two approaches: archaeological and archaeometric.


The area is located in Spain, and concerns a specific region of Northern Spain, Lower Aragon. The excavations (begun in 2005) of the Mas de Moreno pottery workshop at Foz-Calanda (3rd-1st Century BC) offer the project a field for experimentation unique both for the nature of the remains and for the nature of the dig. It is a programmed operation on ground that since 2011 has belonged to the Patrimonio Iberico de Aragón consortium, an interest group whose mission concerns research into and promotion of the archaeological heritage linked to the Iberian period. The “Production of Ceramics in the Mediterranean World” project began in 2012 and is continuing, based on 15 years of works carried out with close collaboration between French and Spanish researchers.


The project proposes to exploit this use of the land and give it new scope through the development of new research on and off the site, notably in archaeometry. The aim is to analyse the ways in which the production of turned, painted ceramics developed and evolved in the context of Lower Aragon, to discern the economic logic conveyed by the organisation over time and over the active production area of Mas de Moreno, and to analyse the relations of this same workshop with its surroundings, both close to and further away. In concrete terms, this involves defining the development of the chain of operation precisely from the production area and the remains found.


The study will take two approaches: within the site (the archaeological approach) and archaeometrical. As regards the approach within the site, the accent is partly on the phases of the operating process prior to firing and partly on those linked to the firing itself. Concerning the phases of the operating process, it has been possible to discover a clay preparation area for the first time. Regarding the firing, a new method of recording the terrain with a 3D scanner has been developed; a series of readings has thus revealed, for example, that there was a kiln displaying very specialised technology, attributed up to then to the Roman tradition. This discovery has led to reconsidering the functioning of kilns and the ways of conducting firing operations and their origin.


The object of the archaeometrical approach (the analysis and characterisation of ceramic materials, and their elemental and mineral composition) is to characterise the morphology of the workshop and reconstruct its way of functioning. This approach provides the opportunity for a revision of the archaeological interpretation grids, in particular those concerning the manufacturing techniques, including the stages in the operating process linked to firing.


This project has already been the subject of several communications on the international stage: 

- at the 19th Annual Meeting of the EAA (European Association of Archaeologists) (4-8 September 2013; Pilsen, Czech Republic)

- at the 18th Annual Meeting of the EAA (30th August – 1st September 2012; Helsinki, Finland).

- and at the II Congreso Internacional de estudios cerámicos. Granada, 5-8 March 2013.

In addition, the digs at Mas de Moreno provide an important opportunity for training, and are included extensively in the students’ research process within Masters’ degrees in Archaeology and Archaeometry at the university.

This project will bring numerous new elements concerning the technology of ancient societies and the socio-economic functioning of the Iberian community.






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Illustrations :

1- Florent Comte, assisté d'Alice Royer (Master 2 SAMA Archéologie Recherche), relève le four 5 à l'aide d'un scanner 3D (cl. A. Gorgues).
2- Relevé 3D du four 1 (découvert en 1980 par M. Martínez, SAET), avec en vis-à-vis le plan 2D: comparer la différence d'un point de vue de la qualité de l'information. Les dépressions rectangulaires au nord du four sont postérieures. Le fait que les parois apparaissent hors-sol, alors qu'à l'origine elles étaient encaissées dans le substrat géologique, est lié à la conduite de la fouille de 1980. Infographie Fl. Comte.
3- Relevé 3D du four 3. Notez la précision avec laquelle cette technique rend compte de la morphologie après fouille d'une structure aux formes très irrégulières (infographie Fl. Comte).


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