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Section 4. Case Study: Dating pottery from Ancient Abdera (Greece)#

4.1 Project Background/Scope#

The site of Abdera, city of Democritos, was settled in the middle of the 7th century B.C. by colonists from Clazomenae and in 545 B.C. by the inhabitants of Teos. The site has undergone various changes during its history, from a prosperous city during the Roman period to a cemetery during the Byzantine period. According to the archaeologists, ceramics found in the site are both local and imported products, while their age may vary.

The scope of the project was the dating of several ceramic objects (mainly pottery) found in the archaeological site of ancient Abdera in Greece using Thermoluminescence.

4.2 Project Deliverables#

For each object the age and the corresponding error were calculated following the established TL protocol along with all necessary complementary measurements as previously mentioned. The datasets selected for archiving include:

  • Raw TL-data file
  • Converted TL-data file in ASCII format
  • Raw data from every other measurement conducted for the estimation of the "annual dose"

4.3 Archival Metadata Example#

In order to present an example of a complete metadata set, one of the analyzed objects was selected. Project level metadata have been completed once, since they refer to the archaeological site and apply to all project objects. The remaining metadata (object and measurement level) are different for each object (in most cases the majority of the measurement level metadata may also be common for all objects). All archived metadata are in given Table 2.


Table 2: Table 2. Metadata fields filled for the ancient Abdera project

ElementField entry
Project level
Project nameAncient Abdera
Project date10 May 2005
Name of stakeholderAbdera museum
Object locationSite of Ancient Abdera, Greece
Site geographical longitude40.934249
Site geographical latitude24.975368
Object level
Object ID codeAB.ST.s(1)10
Object lab IDAA10
Object lab date15 May 2005
Batch protocol number-
Group object IDGroup A
Excavation section-
Area description-
Object depth20 cm
Object typesherd
Object categoryamphora
Object dimensions25 x 28 x 4 mm
Object description-
Object pictureAB.ST.s(1)10.tiff
Related documents-
Measurement level
Sample preparationA piece of the sherd is removed. Then after removing few µm of the external layer, it is gently pulverized and then sieved
Measuring techniqueFine grain
Grain size2-10 µm
Number of aliquots16
Measurement protocolAA10.SEQ
FiltersCorning 7-59 & Pilkington HA-3
Instrument(s)Riso TL/OSL reader (model TL/OSL-DA-15), S/N: RISO 105/00/06/b/OSL-B42-IR/830
Instrument(s) details-
LaboratoryLaboratory of Archaeometry and Physicochemical Measurements, R.C. Athena
ResearcherDr Nikolaos Kazakis
Start measurement date1 June 2005
End measurement date2 June 2005
Date of results20 June 2005
Technical Report fileAncient_Abdera_May_2005.doc
Annual dose estimationMeasured K, U, Th activities, cosmic ray dose equal to 0.015 rads/yr
Method for potassiumMicro-XRF
Method for uranium/thoriumELSEC 7286 Low Level Alpha Counter

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