Tracing Networks

Craft Traditions in the Ancient Mediterranean and Beyond

Colonial traditions: ceramic production in Iron Age and Punic Sardinia

Peter van Dommelen, Andrea Roppa

This sub-project investigates the production of ceramic coarse wares for domestic and productive purposes in the Phoenician-Punic world of the western Mediterranean between the Iron Age and classical period (9th to 4th c. BCE), with a particular focus on the island of Sardinia.

Combining scientific analysis with sophisticated social interpretation to understand Nuragic and Phoenician-Punic pottery, the Colonial Traditions project seeks to develop an 'artisanal' approach to the study of ceramic production in particular and of rural productive activities in the ancient world more generally. Particular significance is given to the analytical concept of the chaîne opératoire, which takes into account the social and technological dimensions of (ceramic) production. The underlying assumption is that ceramic traditions are embedded in social practices and that the technological study of ceramic activities may therefore provide powerful insights into the ways in which Nuragic and Phoenician people interacted and negotiated their daily practices and identities. It links closely to the projects of Whitbread, Foxhall, Haselgrove and Harding.

The geographical focus of the Colonial Traditions project is on the central west coast of the island of Sardinia, where the large indigenous site of nuraghe S'Uraki along with the adjacent village of Su Padrigheddu, on the one hand, and the densely packed Punic rural settlements of the Terralba district, on the other, constitute the two main case studies at opposite ends of the Gulf of Oristano. Technological analysis of Nuragic and (typologically) Phoenician pottery from Su Padrigheddu and S'Uraki are paired with extensive fabric studies of Punic pottery produced in the Terralba district in order to trace long-term developments in ceramic production and to explore social interaction and the negotiation of new identities in Iron Age Sardinia.

The Colonial Traditions project is carried out by Peter van Dommelen and Andrea Roppa in collaboration with Helen Loney (University of Worcester) and Alfonso Stiglitz (San Vero Milis) and the support of Alessandro Usai on behalf of the Soprintendenza archeologica per le province di Cagliari e Oristano.

Presentation slides

Fieldwork 2010-11