Cooking Pots as Indicators of Cultural Change: A Petrographic Study of Byzantine and Frankish Cooking Wares from Corinth

Cooking Pots as Indicators of Cultural Change: A Petrographic Study of Byzantine and Frankish Cooking Wares from Corinth

By Louise Joyner

Hesperia, Vol.76:1 (2007)

Abstract: Two styles of cooking pot were used sequentially at Corinth from the 12th to the 14th century a.d., a time during which Frankish crusaders occupied the Byzantine city. Utilizing thin-section petrography, the author investigates possible differences in the provenance and production technology of the two forms of cooking ware. The Byzantine form was made in many fabrics while the Frankish form, introduced some 50 years after the Frankish incursion, was limited largely to one fabric. The fabrics are all consistent with the local geology, suggesting that both forms were produced locally and that the observed differences are the result of changes in the procurement and/or production of the vessels over time.

Introduction: Recent excavations in a Frankish complex at Corinth uncovered two distinct cooking wares, an earlier ware typical of the Byzantine and Early Frankish period, and a later Frankish ware. The two types of cooking ware can be dated to before and after the Frankish incursion into Corinth in a.d. 1210. At the time of excavation, Charles Williams raised several questions about the origin of these wares. Were they produced locally or were they imported? Were they made using different clays? Were they produced in the same workshops?

To try to answer some of these questions, I undertook a program of fabric analysis at the Fitch Laboratory of the British School at Athens. Given the coarse-grained nature of these fabrics, petrography rather than chemical analysis was selected as the most appropriate method. Petrography could be expected to reveal any differences between the clay fabrics of the Byzantine and Frankish forms; if the vessels were local in origin, the differences in fabric would reflect developments in the pottery industry of Corinth during the period under study. The purpose of this article is to present the results of this analysis and to draw inferences about the changing forms, production technology, and function of these wares over time.

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