An archaeometric study of lead glazed medieval ceramics (13th-14th centuries) from Santarém

Luís Filipe Vieira Ferreira, Tânia Manuel Casimiro, Carlos Boavida, Manuel F. Costa Pereira, I. Ferreira Machado

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Ceramic sherds from approximately 20 samples of lead-glazed tableware, recovered from diverse archaeological sites, including three repurposed storage pits transformed into dumpsters within the medieval city of Santarém (13th–14th century), underwent a meticulous examination. This investigation utilised techniques such as micro-Raman, ground-state diffuse reflectance absorption, and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopies, in addition to X-ray diffraction and stereomicroscopy. A parallel study was conducted on contemporaneous European ceramics (glazed sherds) sourced from archaeological sites dating back to the 13th–15th centuries in Saintonge (France), Ardenne, Zomergem, and Bruges (Belgium), as well as Surrey–Hampshire, Kingston, and Cheam (England). The first premise for comparing the Santarem samples with European production locations was their frequent commercial relations with Portugal and the frequency of these productions being found in Portugal. The colour of the ceramic bodies is predominantly white or whitish, with a few exhibiting a vivid red hue. Analyses of the fabric, mineralogical, and elemental composition of the sherds suggest that the majority of Santarém’s glazed ceramics were locally or regionally produced, potentially derived from a Pliocene kaolin-rich sand formation. However, this conclusion is not supported by the absence of discovered lead glaze kilns or workshops in Santarém for the late Middle Ages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2217-2238
Number of pages21
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Medieval ceramics
  • Santarém
  • Micro-Raman
  • GSDR
  • XRD
  • XRF
  • SM


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