The Corpus Of Prehistoric Pottery

It is hardly needful, after the discussion of the dating in the previous volume on Prehistoric Egypt, to describe the present corpus, or the mode of using it. It contains all the forms published in the various works enumerated at the beginning of the volume named, unified as a whole and provided with sequence dates. The practical use of it is by the graveside. So soon as a grave is cleared and planned, then the pottery can be laid out in order, each type searched for in the corpus, and noted by its letter and number on the card register. The limits of date can be copied out, and the resulting limits of the date of the grave may then be added as the date on the card. Such pottery as is worth removal, and especially any new type that should be drawn, can then be separated, and the remainder of common pottery be returned to the grave and covered in.

In unifying the various additions—some 700— which have been found since the 300 types of Naqada, many irregularities have been noticed, and some editing of the whole became absolutely necessary. Even different types had been given the same letter by different discoverers. In the Decorated pottery especially, the additions had made a complete revision of types 1 to 19 needful. In this part, therefore, the present corpus makes an entire break with the previous registers. Some other slight changes became needful also in other classes, but the minimum of change has been made. All of these alterations of designation are completely stated on pi. lx, under the heading of each volume in which a type has previously appeared. On the same plate are conversion tables for reducing Reisner's short corpus used in Nubia, to the present corpus numbers. Every change therefore between this corpus and previous registers is on pi. lx.

The changes of numbers from the previous English publications, were mostly due to those who made additions not recognising the principles of arrangement. Such principles may be arbitrary, but yet they must be kept up, or else a corpus would become so confused that identification of forms would be difficult.

The principles which must be observed in all additions to the corpus are as follow :

  1. The forms are chiefly classed from the most open, such as shallow saucers, to the most closed, such as bottles. In carrying this out, the bowls are classed by the slope of the edge,—the most open, the most sloping, the almost upright, the vertical and the different degrees of incurving. Another criterion is the proportion of height to width ; some large classes of vases are divided into those under or over certain proportions. In some cases obvious inversions of order occur, because some types continue to vary to a great extent, and after tracing out that line, a turning back to some other type has to be made. The indefinite variation over so large a number of features, makes any single-line order necessarily illogical. All that can be hoped for is to arrange the types so that they can be searched for in the shortest time. In all additions the principle of arrangement must first be observed before inserting a new form.
  2. Another confusion has been caused by not noticing what is included in an established class, such as the black polished pottery in F class. Additions to this have been made into a new class, but are here restored to F.
  3. A needless multiplication of new types has been made, when the differences from established types were but slight or imperceptible. Variations should be ignored when they are within the chances of copying; the two sides of a jar often differ perceptibly, and such slight differences are immaterial. Strictly, no vase is perfectly like another, and we must put together all those which

the corpus of prehistoric pottery may reasonably have been intended to be alike. To separate them detracts from the value of the ranges of types in date.

4, Additions should be spaced apart in the lettering, not as abed but as c, g, m, r, so as to allow of intermediate forms being inserted. Of course variations closely alike may have consecutive letters. The lettering should follow the natural order of forms, as near as may be.

5. Differences of size and of material may be largely ignored. It is usual to find vases of the same form of various sizes, and even in different material, yet contemporary, as in B, P, and R.

The system of the corf us- follows the classification in " Naqada" into nine classes, as no more distinctive method has appeared. The first object of all divisions must be the most rapid identification of a form, and the existing classes provide for that. The class of Late refers to distinctive styles of pottery, hard and thin, or else to the long jars sometimes brown and soft, in any case distinct from the previous classes. At the top right of each figure is the type number and letter. At the bottom left is the reference to the source, those without reference being from the Naqada corpus. At the bottom right is the sequence date of the reference. The works referred to are as follow :

  1. Petrie, Abydos, I.
  2. Maclver, El Amrah. C, Ab. Peet, Cemeteries of Abydos. De M. De Morgan Age de la Pierre, Di. Petrie, Diospolis.
  3. Wainwright, Gerzeh (in The Labyrinth, etc.). Har. Engelbach, Harageh (not yet published). Mah. Ayrton and Loat, Mahasna, N. Naqada (not marked to types, only to tomb numbers). N.D. No date.
  4. 7. Reisner, Archaeological Survey of Nubia, Nub. 8. Firth, Archaeological Survey of Nubia, 1908-9 (with references, E.D., etc., to classes), R.T. Petrie, Royal Tombs. Tark. Petrie, Tar khan I and II. U.C. University College collection, with N and grave number if from Naqadeh.

The date- such as 32-38 means that the examples extend between 32 and 38; 32, 38 means that dated examples are only known at 32 and at 38 ; (32-38) means that only one dated example is known, in a grave of uncertain date between 33 and 38.

It should be observed that there is a different system in the corpus of white cross-lined pottery arranged by the forms, scale 1 :6, and the U.C. examples in Prehistoric Egypt, scale 1:3, arranged by the subject of the designs.

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