image/svg+xml9XII/1/2021INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICANATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGYhomepage: http://www.iansa.euPetrography and Micromorphology Face-to-Face: the Potential of Multivocality in the Study of Earth-Based Archaeological MaterialsSusanna Cereda1*, Pamela Fragnoli21University of Innsbruck, Institute of Archaeologies, Langer Weg 9-11, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria2Austrian Archeological Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Franz Klein-Gasse 1, A-1190 Wien, Austria1. IntroductionThe implementation of techniques frst developed in the feld of geology or soil science to answer questions of archaeological relevance is not a novelty. After all, soils and sediments (from the fne clayey fraction to rocks) are a main component of any archaeological site. This omnipresent element can be found in a myriad of forms, and one of the most common – at least from the onset of this technology – is pottery. Using the same concepts and methods established for the study of rocks, ceramic petrography cuts thin sections through the body of vessels in order to study the nature and spatial arrangement of both their coarse and fne components (Quinn, 2013). Even more abundant than pottery is the sedimentary fabric that composes the body of a site, and that derives primarily from constructed, collapsed or levelled buildings. The microscopic analysis of these sedimentary sequences is called micromorphology, and since the 1980s it has gained increasing attention in archaeology (Courty and Fedorof, 1982; Goldberg, 1979; Goldberg, 1980; Stoops, 1984).Although converging on the type of studied material and also on the wide adoption of optical microscopy for the observation of their samples, micromorphology and ceramic petrography are treated as two separate felds, since they aim at clarifying diferent aspects of past societies. Ceramic petrography deals with synthetic artefacts produced by humans through a specifc sequence of operation (the so-called chaîne opératoire) in order to shed light on ancient technological behaviour and exchanges. Micromorphology looks at the microstratigraphy of a site in order to assess what events/agencies led to the deposition of a sequence and what post-depositional processes afected the stratigraphy. While the diference inherent in the research questions is clear, the distinction based on the type of materials analysed might be ambiguous and artifcial. This concern, for example, earth construction materials, such as mudbricks, adobe, plaster, daub, concrete and mortars that ft both defnitions, being as Volume XII ● Issue 1/2021 ● Pages 9–18*Corresponding author. E-mail: INFOArticle history:Received: 14thSeptember 2020Accepted: 3rdMarch 2021DOI: words:earthen materialspolarising microscopymicromorphologyceramic petrographytell sitesArslantepeABSTRACTSoils and sediments are among the most commonly found materials in archaeological contexts, occurring in a myriad of forms. We need only think of pottery, which is a manipulated and fred sediment, or the diferent earthen deposits that compose the bulk of many sites. Traditionally, the study of the microscopic and compositional characteristics of pottery has been the focus of ceramic archaeometry, while the microstratigraphic analysis of archaeological sediments was always the main task of geoarchaeology. In this paper, the authors explore the potential of a closer collaboration between researchers dealing with the same type of raw material and often using the same methods (optical microscopy), who rarely confront the approaches and expertise of the other feld. For this purpose, two samples belonging to the pre-historic and early historic site of Arslantepe were selected for a methodological exercise: a fragment of an andiron and a piece of a double-vaulted oven. Ultimately, the results of this work demonstrate that researchers from both felds can proft from a more intense exchange: one that takes advantage of the expertise developed in answering distinct but complementary research questions, and calls for the blurring of strict inter-disciplinary boundaries.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2021 ● XII/1 ● 9–18Susanna Cereda, Pamela Fragnoli: Petrography and Micromorphology Face-to-Face: the Potential of Multivocality in the Study of Earth-Based Archaeological Materials10they are the result of human recipes, but at the same time parts of living spaces that often require a microstratigraphic analysis as well. As a result, earth construction materials are invariably handled in the handbooks of both ceramic petrography and micromorphology (Karkanas and Goldberg, 2018; Macphail and Goldberg, 2017; Nicosia and Stoops, 2017; Quinn, 2013), even though scientifc papers on single case-studies show a prevalence of micromorphologists. In contrast, some other clay-based artefacts, such as loom weights, spools and andirons, are mostly studied by ceramic petrographists, but would strongly beneft from a micromorphological perspective as they are items closely interconnected with the domestic sphere.2. Are four eyes better than two?Although there is a wide range of archaeological fndings that interest both ceramic petrographists and micromorphologists, attempts at data integration rarely occur and are typically limited to discussions about the adoption of common standardised descriptive terminologies (Josephs, 2005; Whitbread, 1995). The ambivalent distance/proximity between these felds was particularly striking for the authors of this paper because of their mutual involvement in the study of earthen materials at Arslantepe (Figure 1), a 30 m high tell located in the south-east of Turkey, next to the modern city of Malatya. The site, occupied from approximately the 5thmillennium BCE to the Byzantine period (4th–6thcentury CE), has been the object of systematic excavations carried out annually for more than 50 years by a team led by “La Sapienza” University of Rome (Frangipane, 2011). The long and complex occupation sequence of the site allowed the recovery of large amounts of material culture that is studied by several classes of specialists, including – as mentioned before – the two authors of this contribution.At Arslantepe, Pamela Fragnoli analysed, using thin-section petrography and bulk geochemistry, vessels and