ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44 (2007) 269-272
Roberta Tomber, Kathryn Knowles. Donald Bailey, and Ross Thomas, Mons Claudianus: Survey and Excavation, 1987-1993, Vol. III:
Ceramic Vessels and Related Objects, with a contribution by Helne Cuvigny. Fouilles de l'Institut frangais d'archeologie orientale
54. Cairo: Institut frangais d'archeologie orientale, 2006. xxii + 450
pages. ISBN 2-7247-0428-2.
Ceramic Vessels and Related Objects is the third of the projected five volumes on the excavations at Mons Claudianus, the Hydreuma, and Barud, the
imperial Roman granodiorite quarries in the central Eastern Desert of Egypt.
Volume 1 on the topography and quarries and Volume 2, part 1 on part of the
excavations have already appeared, as have three volumes of ostraca.1 Taken
together, these books will provide an immense amount of information about a
remarkable site. Taken by itself, Ceramic Vessels and Related Objects is a thorough, technical study of the pottery, faience, dipinti, jar stoppers, terracottas,
lamps, and other objects retrieved from the excavations.
The amount of pottery excavated at Mons Claudianus is staggering, one
tonne or more having been collected during each of seven field seasons. Thus
only diagnostics and special sherds could be processed. In chapter 1," The Pottery," Tomber clearly defines her methodology and terms: "ware" means fineware, tableware, cooking ware, amphorae, dolia, miscellaneous and reworked
vessels, and faience, whereas "fabric" means marl, silt, or other clays. All of
the Egyptian fabrics are technically defined: silt or alluvium (Hayes Egyptian
Red Slip B or Rodziewicz Group K), marl, Aswan (Hayes Egyptian Red Slip A
or Rodziewicz Group O), and northwest coast. The problem of mixed fabrics
is also discussed. The catalogue is further broken down into "forms," meaning
"flagons and jugs," "beakers, mugs, and cups," and so on through to "dolia."
Abbreviations are explained, sampling points are plotted, and the statistics
are adequate to define quantitatively terms like "dominant" or "rare." If there
are problems, they are the ones inherent in any pottery corpus, such as those
connected with heirlooms or redeposition.
The actual, detailed pottery corpus (sections 1.4 through 1.12 and 1.14)
does not exactly follow the "ware" and "form" breakdown noted above, but
a more standard and user-friendly grouping. Thus Tomber starts with "Im'D.P.S. Peacock and V.A. Maxfield, Mons Claudianus: Survey and Excavation, 1987 -1993, Vol. I: Topography and Quarries, Fouilles de l'Ifao 37 (Cairo 1997), reviewed in
BASP 37 (2000) 211-218; V.A. Maxfield and D.P.S. Peacock, Mons Claudianus: Survey
and Excavation, 1987-1993, Vol. II: Excavations, Part 1, Fouilles de l'Ifao 43 (Cairo
2001); and O.Claud. 1-3.