Taylor, R. J.
1993 The Application of Neutron Activation Analysis and Multivariate Statistics to the Provenance of Roman Ceramics. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Manchester, UK.


Over 500 samples of middle-late Roman pottery (both terra sigillata and amphoras) from modern day Tunisia were analysed by Neutron Activation Analysis for trace element concentrations. Because of the availability of well defined kiln material, kiln samples were used to define concentration profiles, characteristic of pottery production at each kiln. Distinctive profiles could be defined for some production sites even when less than 5km apart. Multivariate statistics were then used to provenance foreign material suspected to be North African in origin (from Great Britain, Italy, Carthage and a shipwreck off Sicily) with a production centre in Tunisia. Terra sigillata samples from Carthage and Rome were linked with kilns at El Ala and El Mahrine. El Mahrine in particular was confirmed as a major exporting kiln. The Plemmirio shipwreck amphoras were provenanced to the port of Sullecthum in central Tunisia. Possible places of production in the hinterland around Sullecthum were suggested and some evidence of tramping was observed. The effect of sea burial on the sherds was investigated. Provenance of amphora samples from Great Britain gave evidence of long distance trade across the Roman Empire in the 3rd-7th C AD. Comparison of data from other analysts was generally disappointing but this is explained by the larger errors of the earlier datasets. To support this view multiple samples (nearly 200) were used to determine the accuracy and precision of the present data.