Mastering Materials

M. S. Tite

in The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199271016
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Mastering Materials

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  • Classical Studies
  • Archaeological Methodology and Techniques


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This article examines materials analysis in archaeology. It explains that the ultimate goal of materials analysis in archaeology is to understand the human exploitation of the environment in terms of raw materials and processes used in the production of artefacts from stone, ceramic, metal, and glass as well as from the full range of organic materials. This goal is achieved through the investigation of the overall life-cycle or chaîne opératoire of surviving artefacts starting with their production and continuing through their distribution to their use, reuse, and ultimate discard. This article provides a series of case studies relating to the production technology of pottery, metals, and glass and discusses potential of and the problems associated with distribution studies.

Keywords: materials analysis; archaeology; environmental exploitation; raw materials; case studies; distribution studies

Article.  10915 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Archaeological Methodology and Techniques

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