Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 3595–3612 | Cite as

Rock-magnetic and color characteristics of archaeological samples from burnt clay from destructions and ceramics in relation to their firing temperature

  • Neli JordanovaEmail author
  • Diana Jordanova
  • Vidal Barrón
  • Dejan Lesigyarski
  • Maria Kostadinova-Avramova
Original Paper


Determination of ancient firing temperatures of archaeological pottery is a widely discussed topic in archaeometry. Here, a set of magnetic characteristics (magnetic susceptibility, isothermal and anhysteretic remanences, hysteresis parameters) and color parameters were studied for a collection of pottery fragments and burnt clay from house destructions. The results show that magnetite and hematite of superparamagnetic to single domain grain size are the main iron oxides produced during heating. Hematite fraction is more important and frequently detected in pottery sherds than in burnt clay from destructions. An inverse linear regression was obtained between the estimated firing temperature and the ratio value/chroma, which is shown to be site specific for pottery samples. For burnt house destructions, the regression is less well constrained and most probably reflects differences in the raw material. Consideration of rock-magnetic parameters against firing temperature estimates reveals a direct link between saturation magnetization and ancient firing temperature for burnt clay from house destructions. In contrast, this link is inverse and worse defined for pottery materials. This different behavior is attributed to different prevailing processes of iron oxide transformations in burnt clay and pottery, related to the specific firing conditions.


Archaeological pottery Burnt clay Mineral magnetism Color measurements Iron oxides Firing temperature 



We thank the archaeologists Dr. E. Bozhinova and Dr. V. Grigorov for selecting and providing pottery samples. Comments of the two anonymous reviewers helped to improve the manuscript.

Funding information

This study is funded by the grant DFNI K02/13 from the Bulgarian National Science Fund.

Supplementary material

12520_2019_782_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (27 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 27 kb)
12520_2019_782_MOESM2_ESM.docx (20 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 20 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Geophysics, Geodesy and GeographyBulgarian Academy of SciencesSofiaBulgaria
  2. 2.Department of AgronomyUniversity of CórdobaCórdobaSpain

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