Willlis' PowerPoint presentation

Nottingham Samian Research Workshops
No. 1: Current and Future Research
6th Feb 2008
Dr Steven Willis, University of Kent
A review of some trends
in Samian use in Britain
Past Recording (routine work) material so suitable for
Past Synthesis work in Britain
Evolution of my Studies
Methodology (routine), assemblage or group based,
integral, lists, and not straight forward
Grouping data, looking at the chronology of forms,
economic and social distribution, by site type, of forms and
What you can get from applied studies
- True of nature of archaeological studies generally
Quantities of samian in Britain through time
Clarification of general picture
Nature of the Groups one deals with –
Excavation approaches, what is reported and how,
´internal circularity ´Wider picture of dating framework
Fuzziness is ok
Dating of Forms through Time
The English Heritage Funded Project
Tested dating of samian types by looking at
their Stratified Incidence
Interactive Database is online
– over 20,000 hits
• A Data set with utility
• For comparison with specific site
• But who will use it
Where did it go to?
Who were the Main Consumers?
Military / Vici
& Urban Sites
All other sites
(Small Towns, Villas, Rural Sites, Temples)
And some Surprises
Vici have the largest percentages of samian
and the highest proportions of decorated
Consistent with other indicators
A further Surprise – Burial Discrepancies
Cemeteries and Burials associated with Military
and Urban sites yield only small numbers of
samian vessels
Yet at rural sites samian is prominent
- In contrast to the ‘normal site deposits’
- Samian from settlement layers
This pattern is visible on the Continent too
This trend of interest in samian and special
treatment of it in ‘rural’ contexts can also be
seen in its ‘over representation’ amongst
structured / votive deposits in the
Selected – often whole – for such use
Samian and Contextual, Spatial / Functional Studies
Study of the Incidence of Samian Inkwells
- A diagnostic indicator
-Where were they occurring?
- Faith in contexts
- Decorated pieces and contexts – what does that tell us?
- Site formation processes and field archaeology
A Trinovantian Drinking Tradition?
Samian Cups in Essex
Function and Usage
Use-wear and Repair – what does this tell
What is not known or little understood in
terms of quantitative / distribution study?
Samian from Villas
Specific Sites
The Northern Frontier - Framework
Hadrianic Deposits
(? dating and ‘Long Waves’)
Problem of Compatibility of study with
Continental assemblages
– a current aspect of my work
Problem of Samian Curation
– when does it pass out of use?
- Some types curated longer than others
-The Third Century
What Next from these perspectives?
Time, money and commitment
Quality Data
Personal & Technical Resources
Contribution to Research Agendas
Integration with wider spheres of Study
Strength of the Platform
Linkage with Typological and Stamp Indices
Convincing our Colleagues of the need to
invest and support publication
The potential of ‘our mutual friend’
– heritage and gift, we are the ‘trustees’