Pottery Cataloguing

Following the request by the Institut National du Patrimoine de Tunisie and Durham University, the Centre Camille Jullian (Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, MCC, CCJ, Aix-en-Provence, France) and the Mission Archéologique Française pour la Libye antique have organised at Iunca/Mahrès training on pottery cataloguing and analysis, for Libyan and Tunisian archaeologists during a week (24th – 30th July 2017) in Mahres (Tunisia).

Training team

Michel Bonifay (CCJ/MAF)
Sami Ben Tahar (INP)
Mongi Nasr (Université de Sfax)


The training focused on the analysis of the pottery that was collected during the survey in the first week. The aim was to form ceramists able to identify the artefacts and their chronologies.


During the first week of training were surveyed 28 transects (north-south and east –west). During the survey, they have systematically collected the pottery for a total of 300 GPS collection points. The study of the pottery has been carried out in seven days, following all the phases of the pottery study, from washing the vessels, marking, fabric analysis, typology, filling in the catalogue, photographic documentation and drawings.

The training also included theory and practical demonstrations (tables and drawings) on the computer. The basic bibliography used during the course has been provided for the course participants during the training.

The training allowed the cataloguing of the pottery collected during the survey, e.g. 5000 recorded fragments collected in 350 GPS points. The documentation included 747 photographs and 53 drawings. The catalogue has been integrated in the GIS elaborated under the direction of Dr Marco Nebbia (Durham University).

The impact of the training was very evident in the field and it is well reflected into the responses to the questionnaires.


The pottery training had a strong emphasis on the practical activities. This approach has been chosen for two reasons. The first was dictated by the nature and the aim of the training. The trainees were primarily archaeologists employed by Institutions active in the field of Heritage protection, therefore, given the short period of the training, was imperative to give them the basic, fundamental knowledge of the pottery processing and analysis, so that they can support the fieldwork. The second was, in fact, the response to the specific response by the trainees and follow their own request.

They all indicated that the training has completed changed their approach and their understanding of heritage recording and highlighted the importance of the material culture, which they always ignored. They now fully understand its importance and its added value, for dating the sites, for understanding commercial connections and also for providing information about the sites and plan their protection.