Comparative pottery technology between the Middle Ages and Modern times (Santarém, Portugal)

Massimo Beltrame, Fabio Sitzia, Marco Liberato, Helena Santos, Felipe Themudo Barata, Stefano Columbu, José Mirão

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Combining historical, archaeological and experimental data, traditional and archaeological ceramics, from the Santarém district, with different chronology and functions have been studied. Our aim is to understand ancient pottery technology and to evaluate whether ceramic production followed similar principles in the Middle Ages (from the Islamic to the Christian domination) and Modern times. Moreover, traditional ceramics, knowing the productive process, have been used as a tool to interpret ancient pottery technology. We considered different utilitarian ceramic groups, namely fire, table and food-liquid container wares. Through the combination of optical microscopy (OM), X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD), X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) with physical and mechanical tests, it has been possible to collect valuable information regarding pottery manufacturing, considering the age and the object function. Moreover, it is also considered the effect of raw materials mixing and ceramic paste preparation on ceramics final characteristics. Our results indicate that both during the Middle Ages and in Modern times, technical expertise played, and still play, a fundamental role in the creation of a specific object. In this specific case, behavioural and socio-cultural factor drove ceramists’ decision when selecting between different technological solutions, and every decision or technical choice is/was taken depending on the functional and performance characteristics desired for a specific artefact. This happened during the Middle Ages, and is still happening nowadays for the production of traditional ceramics in the district of Santarém, Portugal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Middle Ages
  • Modern times
  • Pottery technology


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