Archaeo-directional and -intensity data from burnt structures at the Thracian site of Halka Bunar (Bulgaria): The effect of magnetic mineralogy, temperature and atmosphere of heating in antiquity
Archaeomagnetic results are presented from a series of burnt structures at the Thracian site of Halka Bunar. Archaeointensity and archaeodirectional studies were undertaken on three kilns from a pottery production complex. This has been dated to the late 4th and early 3rd century B.C. (325-280 B.C.) based on coins found associated with the kilns [Tonkova, M., 2003. Newly discovered Thracian Centre of the Early Hellenistic Age at the Spring "Halka Bunar" in the Land of C. Gorno Belevo. Annuary of the Institute of Archaeology with Museum. Bulgarian Academy Sci. 2, 148-196 (in Bulgarian)]. This data provides a new point for the Bulgarian archaeomagnetic curve (Dec: 348.70 ± 5.79, Inc: 62.20 ± 2.70, and Fa: 77.23 ± 2.17 μT). The kilns are thought to have been used for producing different types of pottery in a range of heating atmospheres and at different temperatures. Therefore, special attention was paid to the magnetic mineralogy of the samples and its effect on the palaeodata. Kiln 3, orange clay samples were dominated by fine to ultra-fine grained single domain and superparamagnetic magnetite, with a small proportion of haematite. The samples were heated in a high temperature oxidising environment. Kiln 2 was probably used to make grey ware pottery. The samples are light grey and were dominated by stable single domain magnetite formed by high temperature heating in a more reducing environment. Kiln 4, mottled samples consisted of a variable mineralogy showing characteristics of both Kiln 2 and Kiln 3 samples. It was probably used to make traditional, mottled, Thracian ware pottery and was heated to lower temperatures in a mixed environment of heating. Samples heated in an oxidising environment gave more reliable Thellier results than samples heated in a reducing environment in antiquity, as the latter altered heavily on re-heating. A fourth kiln and a destruction feature from different trenches than the kiln complex were also investigated to establish their age. Archaeodirectional data was not recoverable from these two structures due to post-burning disturbance. The mean archaeointensity from Kiln 5 (mean 78.0 ± 1.7 μT) is consistent with that from the main kiln complex (mean 77.23 ± 2.17 μT) and is therefore considered to be contemporary. It was probably not used to make pottery. The destruction feature records much lower archaeointensity values (mean 65.1 ± 1.1 μT). When this value is compared to the existing reference points of the Bulgarian database it suggests this feature is younger than the kilns (250-140 B.C.). Multiple age use of the site is therefore confirmed with a main period of occupation in the late 4th and early 3rd century B.C. and another phase of occupation in the mid 3rd to mid 2nd century B.C.