Forensic Exploration of the Mechanical Properties of Basalt Grains in Earthenware


  • Dennis Braekmans Cranfield University
  • Max J.G.M. Broekman Materials Science and Engineering, Delft University of Technology
  • Bernd G. Grashof Materials Science and Engineering, Delft University of Technology
  • Max P.J. Oudshoorn Materials Science and Engineering, Delft University of Technology
  • Lennard H. Uittenbroek Materials Science and Engineering, Delft University of Technology
  • Loe F.H.C. Jacobs Laboratory for Ceramic Studies, Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University



Ancient ceramics, Fracture Toughness, Levant, Basalt temper, Experimental Archaeology


The overall goal of this project is to contribute to reconstruct the innovation mechanisms and development of ceramic production using forensic engineering techniques. Instead of optimizing materials as a driver in modern engineering, here we wish to use these methodologies, but aim to solve questions on advancement in the past fabrication process – and thus ultimately understand the key issues of a less or (un)successful design and subsequent improvement. This paper wishes to address the advantages and constraints regarding to use of basalt in ceramic matrices. By utilizing a standardized set of different test bars comprising different amounts of basalt fired at both 800°C and 1000°C, it can be concluded basalt tempered ceramics have a higher fracture toughness when compared to quartz enriched materials. It is there plausible to identify basalt as a good temper material for (ancient) earthenwares in terms of thermal (shock) activities.

Author Biography

Dennis Braekmans, Cranfield University

Dennis Braekmans joined the Cranfield Forensic Institute in 2017. He completed a PhD in Archaeology in 2011 at KU Leuven (Belgium) followed by a post-doc position at the Centre for Archaeological Sciences (KU Leuven, BE). Since 2012, he was assistant professor at the department of Materials Science and Engineering, Delft University of Technology (NL), and the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University (NL).


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How to Cite

Braekmans, Dennis, Max J.G.M. Broekman, Bernd G. Grashof, Max P.J. Oudshoorn, Lennard H. Uittenbroek, and Loe F.H.C. Jacobs. 2019. “Forensic Exploration of the Mechanical Properties of Basalt Grains in Earthenware”. Archaeological and Environmental Forensic Science 1 (2):149-60.