Rinse Willet on the Distribution of Eastern Sigillata A

This new article by Rinse Willet in the journal HEROM looks like a useful overview of different statistical approaches to modeling the distribution of common pottery types in the Roman Mediterranean. The article focuses on the late Hellenistic to early Roman table ware Eastern Sigillata A:

Willet, Rinse. “Experiments with Diachronic Data Distribution Methods Applied to Eastern Sigillata a in the Eastern Mediterranean.” HEROM 3, no. 1 (November 19, 2014): 39–69. doi:10.11116/HEROM.3.3.

This paper addresses and discusses three statistical methods to describe the diachronic development and distribution of the Roman ceramic tableware Eastern Sigillata A (ESA). These methods distribute the data over time based on the typo-chronological properties of the vessels. A linear distribution method was already devised in the late 1980’s and applied in Roman pottery studies. Although other methods were suggested, the linear method was applied uncritically in various studies and therefore this paper will assess alternative methodologies of diachronic data distribution, namely a Gaussian and gamma distribution method. These new methods have the benefit of modelling growth and decline in the circulation of each individual type of vessel, and are applied to ESA in this paper. For this, the data of most published ESA from the eastern Mediterranean are used and a comparative case-study for the ESA excavated at Athens, Antioch and Berenice is presented. The (dis)advantages of the methods are discussed and their usefulness as analytical tools for both artefactual and historical analysis is addressed by providing a brief historical overview of these three sites and introducing the diachronic distributions of ESA into their respective histories. Furthermore the applicability on ceramic and other branches of material culture studies of these methods is addressed.

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