The focus of the project is the determination of production sites of pottery, the ceramics’ distribution and consumption spaces in a clearly spatially limited area, part of a river valley, over time.


Ceramics collected in a survey in the Syrian Middle Euphrates Valley, the surrounding area of ​​the ancient metropolis Tuttul (Tall Bi’a), near today’s ar-Raqqa, are to be used to define distribution areas of pottery by means of archaeometric analyses. The distribution patterns are intended to provide information on the spatial economic structures and trade connections. The region, which covers approximately 120 km of the valley area, was investigated in the context of a project funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. All significant ceramic is stored in Berlin.

The investigation of the distribution systems of ceramics from the Middle Euphrates Valley is diachronous, from the first experimentation in local production up to the Byzantine and Islamic periods. The material is widely differentiated and includes long distance imports. One of the main questions is how far the different societal and settlement structures as well as the influence of large-scale political networks (eg Uruk period) are reflected in the distribution.

In the framework of the dissertation “The differentiation of a comprehensive ceramic complex from the middle Euphrates using the p-ED-XRF in consideration of technological characteristics for the reconstruction of distribution systems of ancient societies” (Antonia Hofmann), the comprehensive spatial and chronologically broad-spread ceramic material is used to examine the extent to which conclusions on the change, both of manufacturing techniques, manufacturing intentions, the raw materials used, and distribution patterns of technologies in a diachronic perspective are possible using the portable energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence analysis (p-ED-XRF) and by which methods they have to be supplemented. Four time slices (Ubaid period to Middle Bronze Age) were chosen for this methodological research.

The later, Byzantine to Islamic periods, are investigated by Agnès Vokaer, Université Libre de Bruxelles.


In general, the ceramics from the Middle Euphrates Valley can be chemically differentiated only relatively rough (cf outline of the dissertation project of Antonia Hofmann). However, the first results of the MGR refiring analyses are more promising as they might allow a differentiation between local production sites along the river. The amount of MGR samples therefore was largely extended. The research is still in progress.

The project is co-financed by the University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Berlin.