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The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Prehistoric Archaeology
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Computerized Archaeology
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Dr, Avshalom Karasik


Ph.D. dissertation topic Mathematical Methods and Computer Applications for the Analysis of Archaeological Artifacts, with Focusing on Morphological Classification and Typology

Advisors: Prof. Ilan Sharon, Hebrew University; Prof. Uzy Smilansky, Weizmann Institute


Ceramic vessels are probably the most frequent finds in archaeological excavations. Several properties of pottery fragments highlight their special role as a unique source of archaeological information. Their high level of preservation and abundance, together with their daily use, adherence to culturally oriented fashions, and their rapid replacement render them as ideal sources of information to be used in comparative excavation analysis. On the basis of ceramic studies and comparisons archaeologists reach a wide range of conclusions: from historical reconstructions and movements of population, via insights about the society, to ethnic interpretation. It is also at the heart of 'relative chronology', which leads to absolute dating of the excavated sites.

The main tool used by archaeologists in pottery analysis is the morphology of the finds, especially of rim fragments. Traditional shape descriptions and classifications, however, rely on intuitive, often vague characterizations, which are hard to quantify and do not have a unique interpretation. In order to establish comparative morphological studies it is absolutely necessary to have an independent, reproducible and objective definition of shape and similarity between shapes. Developing mathematical tools for pottery analysis is the essence of the present dissertation. The new tools address the entire process of pottery analysis: Producing accurate and digitized profiles based on 3D documentation, computerized classification based on morphological characteristics, and the analysis of ceramic data sets.

In 2010 we received a grant which enabled us to initiate a new lab - "The Computerized Archaeological Laboratory". In the lab we focus on the employment of 3D technology into the analysis of pottery and flints as well as for other special finds such as figurines, scarabs, bones etc. That technology guaranties an objective and systematic data acquisition, which is the basis for any quantitative analysis.

Research Interests:

  • Typology and Classification of Ceramics
  • Computer Applications in Archaeology
  • Technological Aspects of Pottery Production
  • Typology and standardization of Royal Judean Storage Jars
  • Bronze and Iron ages at the Levant
  • The Bar-Kochva Revolt

Ongoing Projects:

  • Excavations of Tel Dor, directed by Prof. Ilan Sharon (Hebrew University) and Dr. Ayelet Gilboa (Haifa University)
  • Survey at Kharuba: A village site near Modi'in where, according to the Talmudic tradition, the Bar-Kochva rebellion was originated.

List of Publications