Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery


This page describes some of the basic tools that are used during the preparation of reports on archaeological ceramics. Some relevant web links are included. The topics covered are:

Binocular microscope

A binocular microscope is an essential tool for the detailed examination of pottery fabrics and identification of inclusions. For ceramics work a long arm stand is essential when viewing large sherds or complete vessels. Most have interchangeable lenses from x10 to x35. For `field' use a small hand lens is invaluable.

Munsell color charts

The colour of pottery fabrics are conventionaly described by reference to a colour chart, such as the Munsell Soil Color Chart. The Munsell notation (e.g. 2.5YR 6/4) is commonly found in fabric descriptions in published pottery reports.

  • The main Munsell website describes the Munsell recording system, including details of the Munsell Soil Color Chart.
  • There are numerous web links describing the Munsell Color system, often as part of teaching notes for courses on color perception and similar topics. The Adobe web site includes a technical guide to the Munsell system, and information on other color models.
  • In Britain, the soil color chart can be obtained from D.G.Colour Ltd, whose website also includes a short summary of the Munsell system.
  • The EasyRGB site includes an online colour calculator allowing conversion between RGB values and Munsell colour codes. Of course, most terminals are incapable of this sort of precision.

Radius measuring charts

A rim chart (or radius chart) is needed to measure both the vessel radius and the proportion of the rim represented by a sherd when collecting vessel equivalent statistics.

  • Click on the thumbnail images to download PDF files (size 18k-20k) for printing the rim charts on A4 paper.
  • If you do not already have a PDF reader browser plugin installed, the file can be saved on disk.
  • Some printers do not print images at a precise scale, so make sure that 10cm on the paper does actually match 10cm on the chart.
  • pdfreaders.org

Recording forms

Initial recording will usually take place on a paper recording form, tailored to the particular requirements of the project, the recording techniques employed and the final destination of the records.

URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/topics/tools • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.