A Standard for Pottery Studies in Archaeology

This document was compiled by the three period-specific pottery study groups (PCRG, SGRP,MPRG) assisted by funding from Historic England with the aim of creating the first, comprehensive, inclusive standard for working with pottery. The Standard is intended for use in all types of archaeological project, including those run by community groups, professional contractors and research institutions.

Pottery is one of the most common artefacts recovered from archaeological excavations, mainly because it usually does not decay as easily as artefacts made of other materials. Although it is widely regarded as a reliable tool for dating, pottery is significant as evidence for technology, tradition, modes of distribution, patterns of consumption and site formation processes. It is unfortunately all too common for a pottery specialist to be given bags of poorly processed ceramics and asked simply to date them and write a report. When simple, basic tasks have not been carried out, and the true value of an assemblage has not been understood, the potential for missing important information is too great.

With that in mind, this standard takes the reader through the various stages of an archaeological project, from planning and data collection through to report writing and archiving, with the intention of informing not only pottery specialists but also those who manage and monitor projects.

Hard copies are available from MPRG, PCRG and SGRP.