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Provenance Study of Prehistoric Ceramics from Sicily: A Comparative Study between pXRF and XRF

Davide Tanasi
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  • Center for Virtualization and Applied Spatial Technologies (CVAST) & Department of History, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida 33620, United States
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/ Robert H. Tykot / Frederick Pirone / Erin McKendry
Published Online: 2017-09-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2017-0013


The 1964 archaeological exploration of the Ognina islet near Syracuse, Sicily, has provided evidence suggesting a long-term prehistoric occupation from the Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age. Maltese style ceramics were found in Early and Middle Bronze Age layers. A small group of imports belonging to the Thermi Ware culture was found in connection with the local Castelluccian Ware (EBA), and Maltese style Borġ in-Nadur wares were recovered with local Thapsos ceramics (MBA). During fieldwork in 2012, large amounts of ceramics were recovered including new examples of Thermi and Borġ in-Nadur wares as well as large amounts of Castelluccian and Thapsos pottery. In order to ascertain whether the Maltese type pottery was imported from Malta, a program of archaeometric analyses was established. Diagnostic samples belonging to both Maltese-like and Sicilian pottery classes were analyzed with destructive thin sectioning and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) and subsequently analyzed with non-destructive portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) together with a sample of Sicilian clay taken from a clay source close to the islet. The analyses demonstrated that the two Thermi Ware samples were locally produced and three out of four Borġ in-Nadur pieces had a Maltese provenance while one of the four being produced in Sicily.

Keywords: Maltese pottery; Sicily; XRF; pXRF; imports; local imitations


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About the article

Received: 2016-11-30

Accepted: 2017-06-25

Published Online: 2017-09-13

Published in Print: 2017-09-26

Citation Information: Open Archaeology, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 222–234, ISSN (Online) 2300-6560, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2017-0013.

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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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