Geoarchaeology-an international journal vol:18 issue:2 pages:255-281
The potters' quarter of the ancient city of Sagalassos, southwest Turkey, was one of the largest and most enduring ceramic-producing manufactories in the eastern Mediterranean. The objective of our study was to determine environmental circumstances that favored development of different clay resources in the territory of Sagalassos and to assess utilization of these resources in the local pottery manufactory. The potters' quarter was established where, owing to favorable geological circumstances, a large clay body had developed. The bedrock in the potters' quarter, a tectonized ophiolite sequence, has synclinal structure; hence, surface runoff and groundwater tend to accumulate in its center. The weathering of the basic rock formed a smectite-rich clay with vertic properties. This clay was mined in antiquity, and mineralogical and chemical analyses indicate that it was used for the production of local ceramics from Hellenistic to Byzantine times. It is likely that colluvium on top of the ophiolitic clay at the potters' quarter is related to deforestation and slope processes after the potters' quarter was abandoned. In sum, environmental circumstances determined the location of the artisanal quarter of Sagalassos, with its clay quarrying operation and ceramic manufactory. However, for the local mass-produced Sagalassos red slip ware, the results of our chemical and mineralogical analyses indicate that a different, more suitable clay was used: detrital lake sediments, rich in chlorite and chlorite/smectite mixed layers, located about 8 km from the original artisanal quarter. The choice for this clay was determined both by the presence of a suitable clay deposit, as well as socio-economic circumstances such as land ownership. The site of Sagalassos yielded unique evidence of mining of clay at a ceramic production site, as well as import of nearby clays. The local and imported clays were used side-by-side, but one for the production of common wares and building ceramics, and the other for the manufacturing of luxury fine tablewares. (C) 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.