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And I called them Assyrians: an archaeological and archaeometric analysis of Neo-Assyrian Palace Ware

Hunt, AM; (2012) And I called them Assyrians: an archaeological and archaeometric analysis of Neo-Assyrian Palace Ware. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

My doctoral research is a synthetic archaeological and archaeometric analysis of Assyrian ‘Palace Ware’ to evaluate its social function and semiotic value throughout the Neo-Assyrian empire. Social function is elucidated through analysis of formal and fabric characteristics, informed by archaeological context. Social function is differentiated from practical function by referring to those characteristics, tangible or immaterial, which describe the relationship between the vessel and its cultural audience. Semiotic value is measured through the perpetuation or modification of Palace Ware’s social function, evidenced by changes in formal and fabric characteristics and archaeological context of ‘Palace Ware’ in Assyria proper and outside Neo-Assyrian provincial boundaries. Definitional criteria for Palace Ware are established using vessels from the Assyrian political core, Aššur, Nineveh, and Nimrud, through the statistical analysis of formal attribute measurements (morphometrics) and manufacture behaviours (chaîne opératoire) revealed using radiography, thin section and electron microscopy, and levigation and firing experiments. These criteria are used to evaluate ‘Palace Ware’ from Dur-Katlimmu and Guzana in Assyria proper and Tel Jemmeh in an unincorporated territory. Palace Ware ‘provenance’ using traditional methods, such as neutron activation analysis and ceramic petrology, is complicated by the extreme fineness of the fabric (< 2% inclusions in the fabric; inclusions ≤ 0.05mm). Cathodoluminescence spectroscopy and spectrometry of quartz inclusions is successfully developed as an alternative method for the geological grouping and provenance of archaeological ceramics. Palace Ware chaîne opératoire and provenance are used to differentiate the movement of vessels, technology and ideas, and potters throughout the Neo-Assyrian empire. My results indicate that Palace Ware was not traded but produced locally by local potters. The social function of the vessels, ritual drinking, is consistent throughout the empire, however its semiotic meaning alters from personal political loyalty to status symbol as we move farther away from the Neo-Assyrian imperial centre.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:And I called them Assyrians: an archaeological and archaeometric analysis of Neo-Assyrian Palace Ware
Language:English
Keywords:Neo-Assyrian, Palace Ware, Cathodoluminescence, Ceramics
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology

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