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Trace Elemental Characterization of Maltese Pottery from the Late Neolithic to Middle Bronze Age

Frederick S. Pirone / Robert H. Tykot
Published Online: 2017-09-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2017-0012


The aim of this research was to determine the provenance of Maltese ceramics and to determine the role pottery played in Maltese prehistoric trade and interaction networks. This study involved 236 Maltese ceramic samples, 19 geological clay samples from Ġnejna Bay & Selmun along with 18 ceramic samples from Ognina, Sicily, and four Sicilian clay samples from the outskirts of Siracusa that were nondestructively analyzed using a portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) spectrometer in order to determine their trace elemental compositions (Th, Rb, Sr, Y, Zr and Nb). The results of this analysis were statistically analyzed using principal component analysis in order to ascertain relationships in the chemical compositions among the samples. The results of this analysis indicate that the majority of all the Maltese ceramic samples have a local Maltese provenance and that pottery played a more significant role in defining the nature of Malta’s trade relationships during the Bronze Age. The following study has provided new insights into Malta’s role in trade and interaction networks from the late Neolithic to the Bronze Age and has allowed for new ideas in explaining the cultural change observed from the Temple Period to the Bronze Age.

Keywords: Ceramics; Mediterranean; Interaction; Trade; Connectivity; Archaeometry; Portable X-ray fluorescence


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About the article

Received: 2017-03-12

Accepted: 2017-05-30

Published Online: 2017-09-13

Published in Print: 2017-09-26

Citation Information: Open Archaeology, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 202–221, ISSN (Online) 2300-6560, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2017-0012.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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