|Forum Archaeologiae - Zeitschrift für klassische Archäologie 9 / XII / 1998|
One of the main results of the excavations in the potters' quarter was the discovery of a series of concentrations of dumped pottery. Five major concentrations have been discovered so far, containing waste material of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth/sixth centuries AD respectively. Thus, nearly the entire production span of the Sagalassos wares is represented. No dumped material of the late Hellenistic period or of the seventh century AD has been found yet.
After processing the pottery of these dumps, the lack of complete or restorable vessels was striking. At first we related this fact to erosional activity, transporting the material over short distances of only a couple of metres on the slopes of the potters’ quarter. We postulated that during transport, the broken pottery was mixed to such a degree that vessels could no longer be reconstructed. The fact that sherds made from different clay fabrics were mixed with the majority of the material, the local tableware, was also considered to indicate erosional activity.
However, pottery waste was also discovered behind a mortared rubble wall, where it was protected from erosion, at the end of the 1998 season. Some lenses of ash and charcoal mixed with reddish, burnt earth were found between and over deposits of discarded pottery. In this concentration of waste material, which had remained more or less in situ where it had been dumped, still no complete or restorable vessels were found. This dump also consisted of a mixture of different local fabrics, again with dominant quantities of Sagalassos red slip ware. Closer inspection and more detailed quantification of the five concentrations of dumped material excavated so far revealed that the waste contained nearly no "truly" misfired pottery, that had been fired at too high a temperature, with sintered and bloating dark grey fabric as a result. These observations led to the conclusion that the dumps excavated so far, in fact, do not represent entire kiln loads dumped during a single operation, as we traditionally imagined them, but are rather concentrations of waste material which have grown over a certain period of time.
In other words, the potters of Sagalassos seem to have been sorting their waste. The truly misfired pieces were separated from the rest of the kiln load and dumped at still unknown places. Those vessels that were not completely misfired or simply did not meet the quality standards of the potters were also separated, collected and thrown on the heaps we have been excavating so far. The heaps grew gradually but steadily, and as a result contained a lot of pre-sorted, broken and unrestorable pottery.
In fact, we have to imagine that the potters who actually fired the kilns were highly specialised and singled out by the potters community to do this job . Taking into account the price of firing and the economic value of the end product, the craftsmen would have done everything possible to prevent a kiln from misfiring. Because of their experience, when accidents did occur, they would have been aware of what exactly was the problem and how to keep the loss rate as low as possible. On the other hand, it was perhaps inevitable that some areas of the kiln which were too close to the fire nearly always produced waste. After opening the kiln, the potters seem to have sorted tradeable products from the rest, and went on to decide which vessels of the latter category could still be completely or partially recycled. Finally, the totally misfired pieces and the non-sellable vessels were dumped at different places. At this stage, it is not yet clear whether the different fabrics found together in the dump were actually fired together or were only mixed after dumping.
Of course, this entire procedure would not make sense if the potters of Sagalassos did not have a very good reason to reuse otherwise valueless pottery sherds. Archaeometrical analyses of the Sagalassos wares and the mortars used in the constructions at Sagalassos pointed out that pottery temper was an important ingredient of the local common wares and building ceramics in order to improve their structural stability  . Crushed ceramics were added to a type of local mortar as well. This particular mortar was used for constructions in direct contact with water, with the ceramic temper improving the hydraulic properties useful in retaining water and moisture . It is very tempting to conclude that the potters of Sagalassos managed to maximize their efforts even after everything had gone wrong. It seems that they had set up a routine of sorting waste in order to recycle their "useless" ceramics by grinding it to small pieces and mixing it with clay or mortar. This procedure, operational from early Roman to early Byzantine times, may serve as another example of how ingeniously and efficiently they reused their "raw" materials.
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