Appreciating the little sherds in life...On crumbs, sherds and pottery fragmentation

Arnoldussen, S. & Vries, de, K., 4-Oct-2019, In : Metaaltijden. Bijdragen in de studie van de metaaltijden. 6, p. 193-215 23 p.

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A Dutch saying tells us that those who do not honour the small things in life, are not worthy of the big things (“wie het kleine niet eert, is het grote niet weerd”). From the above, it can be concluded that this saying also applies to average sherd weight in later prehistoric settlement sites. In some cases, the small and fragmented sherds are all that is left, yet we have shown that even these still hold vital clues to questions about the dating and use-histories of sites. At another scale, we have argued that studying mean sherds weights by contexts (and recovery methodology) can help identify (and alleviate) bias in pottery analyses of later prehistoric sites. At the upper end of the spectrum, we have shown that features with low sherd fragmentation (and by correlation, high settlement mean sherd weight values), may help in identifying intentionally placed special deposits. Yet is has also become clear that the small (and smallest of ) fragments should not be dismissed completely. Even though they may not have much diagnostic value, they nevertheless help in understanding how people dealt with refuse on a daily Arnoldussen & de Vries 205 basis. In that sense, they provide a wider understanding of all pottery finds and hence deepen our understanding of the place special deposits have within the dealing with material culture in the past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-215
Number of pages23
JournalMetaaltijden. Bijdragen in de studie van de metaaltijden
Publication statusPublished - 4-Oct-2019


  • Pottery deposition, pottery studies, prehistory, fragmentation, special deposits

ID: 98525625