Out of the many students and mentors that have become part of the BAKOTA project this year, there are a few students that have taken on ceramic centralized projects aided by the different mentors shedding light on the many facts surrounding ceramics. Bks 103, so far, is primarily a cremation based cemetery dating back to the Bronze Age with the ceramics providing answers and key pieces of information through chemical, spatial, and comparative analysis. Ceramics, with their many variations, can be essential in understanding the inner workings of a cemetery. Was there ceramic trading? Did the clay come from a river close by or far away? A cemetery can answer a number of questions about the people who lived there, including any influences from neighboring people. With all of this information, ceramic decoders try to find patterns or connections throughout the site and sites like this one. Although there are many different projects going on in the realm of ceramics on the project, they will all come together to answer the many questions surrounding this cemetery.

First, a word from Ashley…

For almost two weeks, I have been working with Dr. Mark Golitko on the chemical analysis of ceramics from our site. The objective of our project is essentially to find out whether or not the people of this Middle Bronze Age culture traded and exchanged goods, specifically ceramics, with other cultures across the Great Hungarian Plain. To gain this insight, we have been taking core samples from around Bks County, mostly around the paleomeanders. Additionally, we have been analyzing the ceramics that were restored to note any unusual pastes, styles, and/or clay makeup.ceramic 1On our first day of coring Mark, Ádám, and I took core samples from around the old paleomeander by Békés103 using an auger. Our first stab at using the auger did not work out very well, since the soil was quite dry. Ádám decided to take the auger and move closer to the meander. After driving the auger to its fullest depth, we were able to find clay. Our adventures for the day continued into a farmer’s fruit garden, which led to the discovery of great clay. Overall, the most amazing clay was found directly in the meander. Ádám eagerly volunteered to go into the meander and take two samples. The meander unsurprisingly contained the best clay of all the samples. Just from Mark’s coil and Neolithic animal figurine tests, we believe that the people of Békés103 obtained their clay from the nearby body of water.ceramic 2Back at the Panzio, we showed Laci Gucsi, the project’s ceramic restorator, the clay samples that we took. He was very shocked by the quality of the clay from the old paleomeander and wanted a sample for himself. The next day, he went into the field himself and removed one bucketful of clay. Using some of the clay, Laci was able to recreate a type of mug from the site. Laci enjoyed the clay so much that he took half a bucket with him back to Budapest. With the clay he plans to recreate an urn.ceramic 3This past week Mark and I continued our adventures. On Tuesday, Mark, Ádám, and I took samples from the meander by Békés105. In comparison to the previous clay samples that were taken, these samples were much richer in iron oxide. Our quests lead us through fields of sunflowers and corn. Once we made it out of the sunflowers, we discovered a hobbit hut or more likely, a hunting hideout among the trees. We concluded our successful day with burning legs from the stinging nettles and rich clay. On Wednesday, Mark, Laci Paja, and I drove around Békés County in search of more clay. We wanted to obtain clay samples from various drainage systems in the area. This time we discovered smelly clay, mosquito larva, and baby fish. Mark and I even came face to face with a group of men holding shovels.ceramic 4

A word from Justine…

Over the past year, I have been working with a program called ArcGIS, which is a computer program for layering different types of information onto readable maps. For this project, it allows the burials to be put into a geographical context placing Békés 103 on the map. ArcGIS has been essential in answering questions about the organization of the cemetery, as well as always remembering where the burials were. It is the perfect way to organize all of the information that can be recorded/discovered about each grave.   In the program, attached to the map is an attribute table, which can hold all of the measurements, stylistic details, and grave information for each burial and feature. The table is key in showing the patterns that could possibly be observed across the site because a wonderful tool in ArcGIS can isolate specific attributes. This means that if someone wanted to see all the vessels with a spiral decoration, for instance, it could search for them, and then highlight vessels with that decoration.

Ádám and I have now started to record the measurements into the future attribute table, and since we have the reconstructions in front of us it is very exciting! Patterns will be a lot easier to see, and this map in ArcGIS can be useful for many different projects. All 61 burials that have been uncovered so far are on the map, and most of the reconstructions are available so we can now take physical measurements of the vessels. Ádám and I have been corresponding over the past year and a half to work on the organization and coding of the urns, bowls, and cups attached to each of the graves. Ádám has worked across many Bronze Age sites, and is always making connections to things he has studied or seen before including specific decorations. Our goal this summer is to take all the measurements like the height, width, and rim thickness while we can and start filling out the future attribute table that will eventually go into ArcGIS.

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There are many questions I seek to answer with the ceramic information, and more come up everyday. What are the boundaries of the cemetery? Is there a reason explaining the variation in the size of the urns and vessels? Are there specific decorations only found in one section of the cemetery? In the end all the information will come together to help get a clearer picture into the people who called this area home, and hopefully make connections to other sites in Hungary!