Image of the site of Logarden, in the Zagros foothills in Iraq.
Logardan, an archaeological site in the Zagros foothills (north-east of Iraq) a large-scale pottery workshop operating through the end of the 3rd millennium. © French Archaeological Mission of the Western Qara Dagh.

I am Claire Padovani, Phd student in Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne under the direction of Prof. Pascal Butterlin. I am specialised in the archaeology of the ancient near east and study the organisation of the pottery production in the fabric of the city during the IVth and IIIrd millennium BCE in the Great Mesopotamia. Thus, I mainly study potter’s kilns: their technology and their organisation at the site’s scale.

Beginning of 2021, Europe was still in partial lockdown however, I was lucky to complete my SEADDA STSM at the Incipit CSIC of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia. The working and living conditions were not usual however, I was welcomed by a very nice team and I would like to thanks especially Cesar Gonzalez-Perez who helped me with the KilnDataBase Project.

The KDB Project aimed to build an open data base, established on a conceptual model, indexing all the potter kilns known in the Great Mesopotamia that could be used as a reference system for Europeans and international researchers. Indeed, many kilns are found during the excavations, however, the data recording is not uniform and kilns’ data are scattered through field reports and publications.

The first need, was to build the structure of the data base. It needed to be easy to handle and to allow the recording of as much information as possible. The second need was to think about the diffusion and the sharing of the data.

Image of whiteboard planning for the KilnDataBase Project.
The whiteboard plan for the KilnDataBase Project. Image by Claire Padovani.

The Cost SEADDA Action was well suited for this project. It allows me to encounter digital specialists such as Cesar who apply information modelling to archaeology (C. GONZALEZ-PEREZ, 2018, Information Modelling for Archaeology and Anthropology). Conceptual modelling was used to clearly define the relations between the inner attributes of the kiln, and the kiln and its environment. The structure of the database was built and implanted on PostgreSQL.

Now, the database has to be linked to a GIS, to be shared as an interactive map with an accessible notice on each kiln represented. However, the model and the database were already tested and exploited for the study of Logardan, an archaeological site in the Zagros foothills (north-east of Iraq). Indeed, Logardan was a large-scale pottery workshop operating through the end of the 3rd millennium BC. Since 2015, more than one hundred kilns have been excavated. The model allowed the understanding of the different kiln technologies used on the site and their organisation (C. PADOVANI, Kiln technology and potters’ agency in the Early Bronze Age (submitted)). Thus, we could demonstrate that, through the occupation of the workshop, different groups of potters employing their own firing technology gathered on a same site and started to cooperate in their work, enabling technical innovations. This work was presented at the 12th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East.

This STSM was particularly enriching. I discovered information modelling as a new world revealing lots of possibilities for the in-depth study of my personal work and it generated a valuable experience for the digital specialist involved. I am very grateful to the SEADDA COST Action, and the administrative team support, for offering the possibility to meet, exchange and collaborate with specialists around Europe (even during difficult times).