Individual Members

Dr Vanessa Forte

Member of EXARC since
Crafts & Skills

My experience with experimental archaeology started during my MA, attending to the experimental archaeology course at the Sapienza University of Rome. After this formative experience, I started to apply this approach to ceramic study joining my personal skills of modelling developed in the pottery workshop of my family to a scientific study of prehistoric pottery for my MA thesis and later in my PhD research. This latter aimed to analyse technological and functional choices of the pottery production of the current Rome area. The analysis of the ceramic assemblages through raw material investigation, technological traces and use-wear combined with dedicated experimental protocols lead to reconstruct manufacturing techniques featuring different pottery traditions and groups settled in such an area during the copper age.

My experience in experimental archaeology develops through academic research field and outreach events.

Currently my academic research is based on an integration of compositional analyses of ceramic materials, traceological investigation (technological traces and use-wear) and experimental archaeology. The role of experimental archaeology is essential to understand the whole sequence of pottery production (from the raw material processing to firing, including use-activities of ceramic vessels during everyday life) and to produce dedicated comparison collections interpreting archaeological traces and to understand inferences essential to investigate social aspects of production.

During the last years, I took part in various experimental archaeology courses (in collaboration with the Laboratory of Technological and Functional Analyses of Prehistoric Artefacts - LTFAPA) focused on various aspects of ancient life involving pottery, modelling, firing and use of prehistoric vessels, experiments on painted decorations on ancient pottery and production and use of ceramic textile tools.

Activity of dissemination of my research results consists of frequent outreach activities from 2012, as hands-on about prehistoric pottery modelling and firing, workshops and conferences in collaboration with museums, academic or public institutions in Italy and the UK involving adults and kids.

Keywords: Prehistoric Pottery, Pottery Technology, Ceramic Use wear, Craft, Specialisation.

My current research (TraCTUs -, at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, focuses on pottery craft activity during the copper age with a project founded by the European Commission (MSCA). In this study, I am going to integrate a detailed empirical analysis on copper age pottery assemblages of funerary contexts from Central Italy (as scientific analyses of ceramic pastes, traceological analysis of manufacture and use-wear) with major theories about specialisation to investigate knowledge and skills of copper age potters, and contribute to understand their identity in prehistoric groups. During the last months, I had many occasions (such as Prehistory Day, Festival of Ideas and Science Festival in the UK) to introduce TraCTUs project and ancient ceramic technology to adults and kids through hands-on activities and media (see video