Louise Rayner s power point presentation

A Contracting Stance:
Samian in a Commercial Context
• What samian research is taking place within units?
• What are the problems confronted by units in regard to
samian research?
• What work are samian specialists undertaking for
commercial units?
• What is the scope for training samian specialists within
Responses to survey: 10
• Suffolk CC Arch Service
• TWM Archaeology
• Albion Archaeology
• Independent Freelancer
• Wessex Archaeology
• West Yorkshire Arch Service
• Archaeological Solutions
• Oxford Archaeology
• Archaeology South-East
Samian Training & Research within Units
Q: Samian recorded in-house within unit?
All nine units responded yes; only the independent
freelancer didn’t undertake samian recording
Q: Who’s undertaking work? – Variety of Job Titles
Roman pottery specialist, Archaeological Researcher,
Assistant Keeper of field archaeology, Finds Officer,
Project Officer, Project Manager, Senior Project Officer
In-house Recording
Potters' stamps
Dec Motifs
Dec Form ID
Plain Form ID
Fabric ID (workshop)
Fabric ID (broad)
When in-house work takes place?
• Initial stage (spot-dating)
• Assessment stage
• Ceramic quantification and report stage
• Analysis stage following recommendations at assessment
• Assessment or analysis stage depending on assemblage
External Samian Specialists
Q: Organisations that commission external Samian Specialists: 9
Q: When…
• Publication stage
• Analysis and full reporting
• Large groups (50 sherds+)
• Major sites, if samian beyond in-house specialist skills
What is sent?
• All samian
• Selected groups (prioritised)
• Well stratified material
• Just stamps and decorated pieces
• Sometimes just specifically selected sherds
Influencing Factors
• Archaeology/research aims
• Size and integrity of group
• Requirement of additional information: refined dating
• Money/budget
• Availability of specialists
What is Commissioned?
• Commentary on interesting/unusual aspects
• Sherd catalogue with data table & brief text
• Full report including intra-site comparison
• Recommendations of in-house pottery specialist – always
followed by Management?
Issues identified in the Survey
Quantification & Records:
Either not present or difficult to align with non-samian quantification
Samian quant should be incorporated with basic pottery record and not
treated separately
Samian will be recorded in-house first to ensure data is consistent with
the other pottery
Increased use of digital recording would be helpful to integrate date more
Issues identified in the Survey
• The same type of record, catalogue and report is often received no
matter what has been requested or project information supplied
• Specialist reports are too limited in scope and not tailored to
aims/objectives of specific project
• More need to relate samian to site use, function, wider assemblages –
an improving situation?
• Often reports are left as ‘stand-alone’ as too time-consuming to
integrate alongside rest of assemblage
Issues identified in the Survey
Several responses requested training for Roman pottery
Concern expressed over accuracy of identifications for specialists
working in isolation and irregularly on material
Cross-checking of identifications?
This can highlight problems with mis-identification and can be
used as an informal training aid
Knowledge needs to be disseminated amongst general Roman
pottery specialists and there are few mechanisms for this
Gaining samian knowledge is not beyond the capability of pottery
specialists but this may have to be in own time
Samian Training
Who is carrying out the training?
• More senior specialists within the unit
• Visits and mentoring by external samian specialists
BUT generally this seems to be providing skills to enable
general pottery specialists to record to basic fabric and
form level only
What about stamps and decorated pieces?
• Approach of organisations is varied
• Limited training budgets within commercial organisations
• In some areas a full-time samian specialist hard to maintain due to
small quantities recovered
• Need to ensure that value of samian is understood by all making
• Contracting units expect more and more to be done in-house
• Vital reference works remain inaccessible; books out of print
Future Samian Specialists?
What type of specialist do we need for the future?
• Do we need samian specialists to mainly work on the significant
decorated and stamped assemblages?
• Is there a place for detailed decorated samian study in commercial
• To what extent will the publication of the Leeds Index of Potters’
Stamps enable pottery specialists to undertake identifications?
• How do we pass on the skills to research samian at all levels to
general pottery specialists?
EPPIC Training Programme Model
English Heritage funded, IFA administered training scheme
• 1 year funded placements
• Carefully structured recruitment and selection
• Trainee placed alongside established specialist
• Training and mentoring programme with clearly defined learning aims
and outcomes
• Defined monitoring and review points carried out by panel of people
EPPIC Training Programme
Could this model be adapted to address samian training needs?
Funding – so far most EPPIC placements have come with funding for the
salary of the trainee only
Projects with separate funding need to be identified to cover training costs.
Possibly ‘piggy backed’ onto large project with either commercial or research
Regionally-based specialists (either independent or within units) allocated to
established samian specialist as mentors. For how long?
Training Programme
Needs to be supported by training weekend or workshops to:
• Ensure new generation of specialists gain basic skills for fabric and
form identification – the last samian weekend courses were over 10
years ago!
• Ensure all specialists can keep skills current so that type of work being
undertaken within units maintains a high standard
• Could this be linked to Regional groups within SGRP so that these
meetings resume role as ‘hub’ for specialist contact? With nominated
organisations offered financial support to host regular meetings on
rotating basis?