Steps in establishing provenance for ceramics:

1. Sample and analyze ceramic artifacts.

 

2. Identify samples that share a similar trace-element signature and that potentially represent products from the same clay source.

 

3. Sample raw clays and/or production debris and compare their composition with ceramic groups defined above to relate artifacts to the natural landscape.

Frequently, the number and distribution of clay sources available to prehistoric potters is poorly known. As a result, many ceramic provenance studies begin by characterizing the artifacts, rather than the raw clays.

Oregon State University Archaeometry Lab