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Differentiating local from nonlocal ceramic production at Iron Age Sardis using NAA

Iron Age ceramics (n=270) and sediments (n=24) from Sardis documented by scaled photography, descriptive databases and NAA results

Project Abstract


The Anatolian Iron Age Ceramics (AIA) Project focused on trade and exchange in Anatolia between 1200-200 BC by applying elemental analyses (INAA) to ceramics from archaeological sites across central and western Turkey. The project ran from 2005 to 2009 and generated over 7000 NAA results for ceramics and sediments for 17 archaeological sites. The Sardis dataset represents a relatively large component of this project and includes NAA results for a wide range of fine and coarse ceramics, and geo-located sediments to enable a robust measure of the elemental profile and likely origins of local production.

Methodological Notes

Ceramic samples selected, collected and recorded in line with AIA protocol (selection using expertise of site ceramicists to submit both local and likely non-local ceramics for analysis; complete ceramic sherd assigned unique AIA sample number for scaled photographic record of both sides of sherd/vessel prior to removal of small section with diamond band saw; short descriptive database entry identified by AIA sample number linked to photographic record; samples bundled for export permissions for shipping to preparation facilities at the University of New England, NSW Australia where samples were re-photographed prior to abrasive cleaning and powderisation; cleaned powder samples were then shipped for NAA at the McMasters University research reactor in Ontario, Canada along with multiple SRM reference materials; results returned electronically, samples retained at the measurement facility due to irradiation hazard. The photographs in this database reflect the selected sherds prior to sampling. Note several replicates routinely run at different measurement weights.

Potential Applications of the Data

The Sardis dataset may be useful to researchers studying Iron Age Anatolia or interested in the application of scientific analyses to ceramics to exchange and production. The NAA results have proven very robust in comparison with legacy NAA results and the expectation is that this dataset should also be forward-compatible with future NAA work.

Current Disposition of the Physical Collection:

All sherds sampled for this study reside in the on-site Archaeological Repository of the Sardis Expedition at Sardis and have been tagged with their AIA analytic number.


This research was funded by the Australian Research Council (DP0558992) and the US National Science Foundation (grants BCS-0410220 and 0513403). Sardis site directors, the late Crawford Greenewalt, Jr. and Nick Cahill, generously provided ceramic samples from Sardis for analysis.

Related Publications

Kealhofer, L., P. Grave, B. Marsh (2013), Scaling ceramic provenience at Lydian Sardis, Western Turkey, Journal of Archaeological Science 40, 1918-1934. DOI:

Annotations (4)

Property or Relation Value(s)
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
Temporal Coverage
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
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Suggested Citation

Lisa Kealhofer, Peter Grave, Ben Marsh. "Differentiating local from nonlocal ceramic production at Iron Age Sardis using NAA". (2017) Lisa Kealhofer, Peter Grave, Ben Marsh (Eds.) . Released: 2017-09-04. Open Context. <> DOI:

Editorial Status

Managing editor reviewed

Mapping Data

Copyright License

Public Domain Mark 1.0

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