Pottery technologies of Attingitoi (drinking vessels) from the Iron Age
site of Monte Iato (Western Sicily): a multi-analytical approach using µCT, SANS and experimental archaeology 

This project aims to investigate the primary forming techniques of the distinctive ritual
Attingitoi pottery drinking vessels from the important cult site of Monte Iato (Sicily) during the early
Iron Age (7th-5th century BC), using non-destructive X-ray microtomography (µ-CT), small-angle
neutron scattering (SANS), and experimental archaeology. It will examine if and how growing
regional contacts between archaic Sicily and the wider Mediterranean world affected local pottery
manufacturing traditions and, in particular, whether such contacts led to the formation of new
technological and cultural practices and choices, like the use of the fast-potter’s wheel. While
consistency and continuity in forming techniques through the Iron Age would testify to a
maintenance of local modes of production and thus traditional learning networks, discontinuity
could indicate a rupture possibly caused by the supra-regional transfer of new know-how in the
context of contact experiences.

The project will also provide an archaeological case study for the further development and
practical demonstration of two new non-destructive analytical methodologies for the investigation
of pottery forming techniques using established material science techniques, µ-CT and SANS, along
with experimental archaeology. Together, these analytical techniques will provide quantitative data
on the orientation of nano- to millimetre sized particles and voids within both fine- and coarsetextured pottery
fabrics, from which categories of different forming techniques may then be inferred.

Such quantitative data, and statistical interrogation that it enables, has previously been
impossible (in the case of fine-fabrics) or required extensive destructive sampling (i.e. thin sections
of coarse-fabrics). The demonstration of the non-destructive analytical methodologies employed in
this project will therefore have significant implications for the wider study of archaeological pottery.


Principal Investigator:

MMag. Dr. Birgit Öhlinger


Department of Archaeologies
Innrain 52a, 4th Floor
6020 Innsbruck

University/Research Institution:

Department of Archaeologies
Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck

funded by IPERION HS 

Project collaborations:

Parco Archeologico di Himera, Solunto e Monte Iato

Jakub Novotný (Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics CAS)

Katalin Banjok and John Gait (Neutron Spectroscopy Department, Centre for Energy Research)

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