Identifying the contribution of rotational movement in pottery forming based on statistical surface analysis

Paper on the identification of pottery forming based on statistical surface analysis was published in the Archaeological and Anthropological Science.


This article explores the possibilities of distinguishing different pottery forming methods utilising rotational movement based on a statistical analysis of the surface topography and variations in wall thickness. The presented topographic analysis is based on calculation of the surface regularity that is approached as measurement of the difference between the 3D representation of the pottery surface and the corresponding ideal vessel shape, obtained by rotating a model profile around the rotational axis. These differences are expressed using basic surface roughness parameters. In addition, analysis of wall thickness variability and the overall shape of the horizontal sections using elliptic Fourier analysis (EFA) were performed. The study was based on a pilot experimental dataset of vessels made using three forming methods: coiling in combination with wheel finishing employed using a turntable and using a potter’s wheel and wheel throwing. The results show that, with an increasing contribution of rotational movement in the forming sequence, a gradual increase in the regularity of vessel shapes and a decrease in wall thickness variability are observed. The differences in these two parameters allow us to distinguish among the studied forming methods. Automatic classification using elliptic Fourier analysis and support vector machine (SVM) indicates reliable classification for the lower parts of the experimental vessels.


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