Home > Uncategorized > How we analyze ceramics and shells

How we analyze ceramics and shells

As ceramics are excellent indicators of cultural activity, classification and analysis of ceramics require a systematic approach. This morning and afternoon, analysis of ceramics was carried out by members of our team, as well as seashells.

First, all potsherds were grouped into different categories such as rim or non-rim; decorated or non-decorated. Potsherds were counted, labeled, measured by digital vernier calipers (solar powered and with direct USB connection to our laptops), and weighed. Colors of potsherds were classified only by our eye observations (without using Munsell color charts). After that, important pieces such as rimsherds or decorated pieces were systematically photographed with a scale to show their size.

Finally, all the data were recorded and saved in the computer by using Microsoft Excel. As today is just the third day of the excavation and we have not found many artifacts yet, we worked on potsherds that have previously been discovered from different sites of Pang Nga area, southern Thailand.

Studying seashells is also very important because it can tell us about the environmental conditions of the past. We classified different types of seashells according to their structure and physical conditions. After comparing with the known specimens or sample pictures, we can differentiate different types of shells. At the same time, shells were grouped into complete or incomplete shells and unidentified shells were separated out. Separate types and groups are systematically labeled and recorded. Selected complete samples are measured and weighed; however, incomplete or unidentified shells were only needed to be weighed in bulk. After all that is finished, classified shells were put inside the plastic bags where labels referring date of find, site name, excavation unit, depth of the unit level and weight were written.

After all the above things have been done, all the data must be recorded in separate sheets (recording forms) or in the computer for further analysis by other specialists, scientists and researchers. Without complete information, it would be impossible for us to draw a conclusion about the past at that time how human had settled or behaved in the area where we are conducting the excavation.


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