Felix Chayes. Petrographic Modal Analysis. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1956.

The primary reference for petrographic methods of point counting and the basis for the statistical study of distribution of mineral grains in a rock (or ceramic). Out of print and often thought to be out of date. However, this is where it all started and is a good reference when you are trying to figure out how many points you REALLY need to count to form a representative interpretation. See van der Plas and Tobi in the JOURNAL REFERENCE section for further insights.

Prudence M. Rice. Pottery Analysis: A Sourcebook, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 1987 (sadly, out-of-print at this time).

As the title indicates an excellent reference for background in clays, pottery manufacture, vessel typing and characterization. Find it (the library should have it) and use it - note that the references are only up to 1986 - thus it is slightly dated with repect to recent investigations.

Clifton G. Bergeron and Subhash H. Risbud. Introduction to Phase Equilibria in Ceramics, The American Ceramic Society, Inc., Columbus, Ohio, 1984.

For many archeologist and geologist the complexity of the firing process and what really happens in the paste is not necessary for the typological evaluation of the ceramic wares. However, sometimes (especially with respect to glaze development and identification, as well as compositional questions dealing with firing temperatures - especially if you are testing hypotheses on the inital clay material and its aplastic composition) you need an introduction to phase equilibria. This is a good start, although it is more general in its approach. The American Ceramics Society, Inc. produces a number of other volumes with more ceramic specific phase equibilibria information for the specialist. Start with this volume as your introduction.

Hector Neff (ed). Chemical Characterization of Ceramic Pastes in Archaeology, Monographs in World Archaeology No. 7, Prehistory Press, Madison, Wisconsin, 1992.

Some very interesting and useful papers in this compilation. In particular,

A. Mark Pollard and Carl Heron. Archaeological Chemistry, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge. 1996. (available only in paperbound edition).

Good chapters on INAA, XRF/XRD, and electron microprobe techniques. Good general chemistry and mineralogy reference for archaeological materials such as clay minerals (paste), glass and metals. Probably the best (to date) source volume if you need a concise chemistry and techniques volume for archaeological investigations.

Alex Gibson and Ann Woods. Prehistoric Pottery for the Archaeologist, Second edition. Leicester University Press, London. 1997.

A really good reference with excellent dictionary and terms sections. Petrological topics are lightly addressed. Good if you are not an archaeological maven to whom the terminology (or jargon) is more than familiar.

Prudence M. Rice and W. D. Kingery (eds.). The Prehistory & History of Ceramic Kilns, Ceramic and Civilization Volume VII, The American Ceramic Society, 1997. [proceedings held at the 98th Annual Meeting of the American Ceramic Society in Indianapolis in April, 14-17, 1996.]

Everything you ever wanted to know about historic kilns. Especially useful is Kingery's article on the "Operational Principles of Ceramic Kilns," pages 11-19. Also discusses brick and tile making as well as a discussion on glass furnace technology in Renaissance Italy.

Bruce Velde and Isabelle C. Druc. Archaeological Ceramic Materials: Origin and Utilization. Springer, 1999.

Get this volume for your library - as it is a bit costly (my copy was ~$100 (US)). Good sections on firing temperature as well as mineralogical changes. Well worth the cost.


James A. Mulholland. A History of Metals in Colonial America. The University of Alabama Press, 1981.

Mainly the ferric ores including copper - with some information on simple alloys.

Susan Frank. Glass and Archaeology, Academic Press, London, 1982.

A good reference for the basic chemistry, properties and structure of glass. Includes a history of glassmaking and a section on scientific analysis of glass (short and concise with a useful bibliography). Since the author is from the University of Sheffield there is an overview of glass and glassmaking sites in Britain.


E. M. Winkler. Stone in Architecture: Properties, Durability. 3rd revised edition. Spriner-Verlag, Berlin, 1997.

Aimed mainly at the architect (who never had a basic geology course), the conservator and archaeologist, this is a well-written volume dealing with many of the problems faced when dealing with architectural (and sculptural) stone (both recent and historic).


Charlotte Wilcoxen. Dutch Trade and Ceramics in America in the Seventeenth Century. Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany N.Y., 1987.

For anyone examining historic ceramics on the east coast of the United States or the Caribbean this is a volume to examine. The trade and use of earthenware, much less lead glazed utilitarian ceramics, is a difficult study and this gives more insight into what was really happening in this critical time period.

Kenneth E. Sassaman. Early Pottery in the Southeast: Tradition and Innovation in Cooking Technology. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1993

For anyone examining ceramics on the southeastern coast of the United States (North Carolina to Florida) from the Archaic to Woodlands Periods, this volume (revised edition of Ken's Ph.D dissertation) is informative and highly useful (especially if you are looking at the pesky 'fibre-tempered' wares of this region). Get it for your library.

H. Trawidk Ward and R. P. Stephen Davis. Time Before History: The Archaeology of North Carolina. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1999.

For the geologist working in North Carolina a very good resource for terminology, past investigations and other materials for Archaic to Contact period materials and locations.

Peter L. Drewett. Prehistoric Settlements in the Caribbean: Fieldwork in Barbados, Tortola and the Cayman Islands. Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Archetype Publications, St. Michael, Barbados, 2000.

Nice compilation of recent work done in the Caribbean and useful for those of us (like me) who have little idea of the variety of pottery and other materials that are found on these islands.

Michael J. Stoner. Codrington Plantation: A History of a Barbadian Ceramic Industry. unpublished Master's Thesis, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Georgia, 2000.

Martin Todd Fuess. Post-Saladoid age pottery in the northen Lesser Antilles: Lessons learned from thin section petrography. unpublished Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2000.

Michael J. Stoner and Stanley A. South. Exploring 1670 Charles Towne: 38CH1A/B Final Archaeology Report. South Carolina Insitute of Archaeology and Anthropology, Research Manuscript Series 230, Columbia, South Carolina, 2001.

CERAMIC REFERNCES (books on pots and wares)

Kathleen Deagan. Artifacts of the Spanish Colonies of Florida and the Caribbean: 1500-1800. Volume 1: Ceramics, Glassware, and Beads. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1987.

Ivor Noel Hume. If These Pots Could Talk: Collecting 2,000 Years of British Household Pottery. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH., 2001.

GEOMATERIALS (a potouri of topics on ceramics, glazes, stone, metals, and such)

M. Maggetti and B. Messiga (editors) Geomaterials in Cultural Heritage. Geological Society of London Special Publication 257, Bath, UK, 2006.

24 papers on a variety of topics that were presented at the 32nd International Geological Congress (2004) in Florence (Italy).

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Revised 11 August 2006