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A New Look at the History and Material Culture of the Pontic Region in the Early Byzantine Period: The Fine Pottery Evidence

Krzysztof Domżalski, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Summer Fellow 2012

The aim of my summer fellowship was to carry out a bibliographical survey and to compose the synthetic part of a monograph presenting finds of red slip pottery and related fine wares dating to the fourth to seventh centuries in the Black Sea region. The finds from the whole Black Sea region have been hitherto rather poorly documented and analyzed, in sharp contrast with successful research conducted in the Mediterranean, and one of the main aspects of my study is to present the Pontic materials as an integral part of the phenomenon concerning the whole Greco-Roman oikoumene.

My work focused on pottery production, trade, and consumption in the period of gradual change of material culture from its late Roman roots to early medieval standards. The materials were classified on the basis of technological, typochronological, and functional criteria in order to gather information on the provenance, dating, and use of the vessels. They can be used to trace the changes in material culture, as well as to fill in gaps in the economic and political history of some remote areas, especially in the territories adjoining the northern coast, populated by barbarian tribes. One of the interesting aspects of the cultural transformation was the decline of mass-scale production of traditional red-slip pottery, which was replaced by glazed vessels as basic tablewares, produced and traded in smaller quantities. This summer’s research proved that this was a gradual process.

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