By studying the spatial distribution of finds, typically datable by external criteria (decoration, form etc.) based on comparative studies, we can begin to reconstruct the habitation history of a site. Chronologically homogeneous groups of finds form assemblages that ‘belong together’ in space and time. Careful study of such assemblages, in which fragmented pottery is typically most abundant, can reveal the occupation span of a site. Moreover, looking at the detailed characteristics of assemblages can help illuminate the functional use of space within a site; the economic, trade and craft activity the relevant community was engaged in; the sumptuary and social lives of the inhabitants and even their ideas and beliefs. Finds that do not ‘belong’ also serve an important purpose in archaeological interpretation: either they bear evidence to natural or anthropogenic processes affecting the archaeological record, allowing a more nuanced understanding of a site’s development over time (e.g. erosion, plowing, later disturbance or construction); or they instigate fresh archaeological inquiry and additional research to account for the unexpected.

The excavations at Flowerdew produced thousands of artifacts made of various materials, including metal, glass, stone and faunal finds. For the purpose of teaching ceramic analysis, this resource focuses on pottery from site PG64. More specifically, we have selected ceramic material (sherds) that is both associated with stratified contexts and well-documented in the diaries. Additional material may be added as study of the finds in storage progresses.