Petrography/Pottery Analysis

The Petrographic Analysis of Sherds from Bohol

The island of Bohol has a long and rich tradition of using and producing earthenware pottery. Earthenware pottery has been recovered from archaeological sites dating from the Metal Age (500 BC - 960 AD), and earlier, in various regions of the island. Much of this pottery shows similarities in style and form with pottery recovered from neighboring islands in the Central Philippines and beyond. This suggests that there was either an active trade in pottery between the islands, or the movement of people or ideas that manifested itself archaeologically as regional pottery styles.

A recent research project provides some preliminary data on characterizing and sourcing prehistoric earthenware pottery from Bohol. Using petrographic analysis, a small sample of sherds recovered from both archaeological and ethnographic contexts were analyzed and compared to determine if there is a relationship between the prehistoric and/or contemporary production centers and potting techniques. Ethnographic interviews were also conducted to learn more about contemporary clay sources and technologies, as well as to determine if there are similarities or continuities in pottery traditions over time on the island.

Nine samples were analyzed by David V. Hill at the Archaeological Research and Technology, Inc, in Austin Texas. The results of this analysis provides some preliminary data on the island?s potters, pottery industry and trade in pottery, over time. My main objectives in having this small sample analyzed were to: 1) obtain detailed information on the compositional makeup of each of these sherds to see if distinct geological differences could point to differences in clay sources (pottery production centers) or pottery technologies; 2) determine if a relationship could be noted between the archaeological and ethnographic samples; 3) assess the potential of using ceramic petrography for future studies in the region; 4) start a database from which future archaeological samples can be compared in order to address questions of archaeological interest.