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Medieval potters' workshops unearthed in France's Sevrey


Inrap is currently conducting a preventive archaeological excavation in the heart of the municipality of Sevrey, on request of the State (DRAC Burgundy-Franche-Comté). Carried out as part of a private development, this project is now arousing the interest of the scientific community and considerably enriching knowledge of Sevrey's past.

Medieval potters' workshops unearthed in France's Sevrey
Credit: Antoine Guicheteau/Inrap
Sevrey, a medieval potters' village

The archaeological heritage of Sevrey is of great wealth: previous excavations have shown that since the end of Antiquity, many potters have settled here and their products have spread over a large south-eastern quarter of Gaul. This commune is ideally located near a clay deposit, the Saône and the Ferté forest.


In the 1970s, archaeological research and surveys led to several research publications on Severtine production. In the 2000s, two preventive excavations made it possible to document several kilns and to distinguish two ceramic types, the so-called "bistre" orange pottery, produced between the 6th and 7th centuries and a greyish pottery produced between the 9th and 11th centuries.

Medieval potters' workshops unearthed in France's Sevrey
Credit: Antoine Guicheteau/Inrap
The discovery of a missing (chronological) link

Between these last two ceramic types there is a chronological hiatus that the excavation currently being carried out by Inrap is completing. In this sense, it constitutes a major discovery for medieval Chalonnais archaeology, and more broadly for the entire Val de Saône. For the first time, archaeologists are identifying ceramics in the context of production, possibly dating from the Carolingian period (8th-9th centuries).

Medieval potters' workshops unearthed in France's Sevrey
Credit: Antoine Guicheteau/Inrap
Among the rare, if not unusual, discoveries made by scientists are four pottery kilns from the early Middle Ages, one of which still contains the very last items produced by the craftsmen of the time. At least two of them were found to be pottery types previously unknown to Sevrey, or whose production had not yet been identified.


The site offers the possibility of studying the evolution of techniques and methods in use at this period. The archaeometric studies will complete the ceramic study in order to specify and refine the dating of this assemblage.

Medieval potters' workshops unearthed in France's Sevrey
Credit: Antoine Guicheteau/Inrap
Operating chain of a Pottery Workshops

Beyond the kilns, Inrap archaeologists are also uncovering the whole production process of ceramics, from clay preparation to pottery turning and firing. If the buildings linked to the workshop have since disappeared, the ground still preserves the old traces of the posts of these buildings.


Fragments of ceramics and misfired pieces have been discarded in many pits: they will be valuable to ceramists for identifying shapes and techniques. Some rare tools testify to the activity of potters on the site. Further research will help to understand the organization of the workshop and its integration in the village of Sevrey.

Medieval potters' workshops unearthed in France's Sevrey
Credit: Antoine Guicheteau/Inrap
First paleoenvironmental studies in Sevrey

For the first time in Sevrey, Inrap scientists will conduct paleoenvironmental studies on the site being excavated. Micromorphological (soil studies), anthracological (charcoal studies) and carpological (seed studies) studies will measure the impact of these workshops on the Sevrey landscape in the early Middle Ages.

Source: Inrap [July 23, 2018]

TANN

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