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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 4th–7th centuries AD in the Black Sea region. The 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, typo-chronological and functional criteria in order to gather information on the provenience, dating and use of the vessels. They can be used as an important instrument to trace the dynamics of changes in the material culture, as well as filling gaps in the economic and political history in 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 with glazed vessels as basic table wares, produced and traded in smaller quantities. This summer’s research proved that this was a gradual process. As the justification for the topic was the fact that the finds from the whole Black Sea region have been hitherto rather poorly documented and analysed, in sharp contrast with successful research conducted in the Mediterranean, one of the main aspects of my study is to present the Pontic materials as an integral part of the phenomenon concerning the whole Graeco-Roman oikoumene. Therefore, especially helpful to my research was the opportunity to study recently published works on late antique and early mediaeval economy, as well as publications of some case studies in these field and excavation reports.

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