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The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology

Annual Gordon Lecture

Tuesday 20th February
Room 102 Palmer Building
Whiteknights Campus

The Chemistry of pots: Scientific Analysis of Athenian and Boeotian Black Gloss pottery fragments

Dr Chia-Lin Hsu from Tunghai University, Taiwan

Boeotian Pyxis

This lecture celebrates the memory of Professor James Edward Gordon (1913-1998) and his family's donation of 75 Carthaginian artefacts and a Roman Lamp to the Ure Museum. Professor Gordon was a pioneering materials scientist and biomechanical engineer, who served as Professor of Materials Engineering at the University of Reading. His long held interest in the ancient world led to interdisciplinary collaborations, especially with the late Dr John Landels, and thier establishment of a joint degree in Classics and Engineering. Although that degree is no longer offered, Professor Gordon is well-remembered on campus, from the Gordon Lecture Theatre, his family's bequest to the Ure as well as this annual lecture.

The Athenian and the Boeotian fabrics in ancient Greek pottery dated between c. 500 and c. 100 BCE—roughly corresponding to the Classical and Hellenistic periods—indicate different black gloss techniques. While scholars traditionally believed that the two fabrics were made with different raw materials—from Athens and Boeotia respectively—that resulted in their distinctive visual appearances, slight chemical changes resulting from different production techniques might alter the appearance of black gloss surface that decorated these pots. Dr Hsu will discuss her ongoing analysis of some Ure Museum fragments of these two fabrics, using electron microscope with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (SEM-EDS) and synchrotron X-ray techniques. With these analysis she seeks to clarify whether the differences between Athenian and Boeotian fabrics resulted from different material sources or from varying producing techniques.

Speaker Bio:
Chia-Lin Hsu obtained her doctorate in classical archaeology at the University of Oxford and is now assistant professor in the history department of the Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan. With a background of chemistry, for which she has a bachelor degree, she is interested in the technical aspects of Greek pottery. She also researches the reception of Greek and Roman decorative elements on Taiwanese architecture, and the impact of classical archaeology on the study of ancient history.

Refreshments will follow the talk in Edith Morley G40

Admission is free but places are limited, to book please contact Jayne at the Ure Museum on 0118 378 6990 or ure@reading.ac.uk

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File last modified: 30 Nov 2011