ABSTRACT

Second-century CE (common era) household pottery sherds found in the city of Napoca (present day Cluj-Napoca, Romania) in Roman Dacia were investigated by polarized light optical microscopy, X-ray powder diffraction, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and cold field emission scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy to obtain information on technology, raw materials and site of production. Compositionally, all samples are similar with comparable fine and semi-fine microstructures and oriented microtextures. Optically, there is a gradual transition from microcrystalline to an amorphous illitic-muscovitic matrix. The small aplastic inclusions are mostly quartz and feldspar. Fine-grained carbonate aggregates are distributed inhomogeneously in the ceramic body. Well-preserved Middle Miocene foraminifera tests are characteristic of the ceramics. The gradual thermal changes of the matrix and the newly formed phases upon firing, such as ‘ceramic melilite’, Fe-gehlenite, clinopyroxene, glass, hematite and some maghemite support inferences regarding the technological constraints in producing the pottery. The firing took place in a mostly oxidizing atmosphere and the temperature extended from at least 850°C to >900°C. The Middle Miocene marly clay from the area surrounding the site shows similar mineralogical and micropalaeontological contents to those of the ceramic specimens and is the best candidate for the raw material used for local production of the Roman pottery.

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