Archaeologist who transformed the study of Anglo-Saxon and medieval ceramicsEschewing traditional art-historical approaches, Alan Vince, who has died of cancer aged 56, transformed the study of Saxon, medieval and early modern ceramics by applying geological and archaeological techniques. He examined the petrological composition of pots, comparing their constituents with rocks from known geological deposits. Working from microscope slides and later also with chemical analysis of the clay, he could deduce the geographical origin of the pot - sometimes even the precise kiln that had produced it centuries ago.In many hands such information would be of purely academic value. But Alan compared tens of thousands of potsherds, from dozens of sites, deploying statistical techniques to transform understanding of conditions in English towns. In London it emerged that the Norman Conquest of 1066 made little difference to trade in pottery, to the types of vessel in use or, by inference, to the...
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