A new research project led by the British Museum, University of York and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), Schleswig, Germany, aiming to tackle the origins, adoption and use of pottery vessels by hunter-gatherers in north-east Europe.
Once viewed, particularly in western archaeology, as a material correlated with sedentary farming life in the Neolithic, pottery technology is now known to have been invented or adopted in many regions of the world long before the domestication of plants and animals.
However, despite this, the recognition of pottery vessels in hunter-gatherer contexts has been regarded as peripheral to mainstream European prehistory. This research project seeks to rebalance the evidence and the debate, placing the innovation, dispersal and use of pottery vessels among hunter-gatherers in north-east Europe at the heart of the enquiry.
Virtually nothing is known of the choices underlying the adoption of pottery vessels or the uses to which they were put. Similarly, there is little understanding of the environmental contexts that led to the emergence of pottery or the timing and dynamics of its apparent westward dispersal across north-east Europe, nor its legacy following the introduction of food production.
Addressing these lacunae is the motivation for this new project.
Ceramics are frequently associated with agriculture and settled village life. Interestingly however, some of the earliest ceramic vessels in Europe are found far away from Neolithic agricultural villages of South-eastern Europe, on foraging camps of the Russian boreal-steppe.
INDUCE sets out to shed new light on these early pottery using communities of NE Europe by determining how and why they made pottery and the role of this technology within hunter-gatherer economy and society. INDUCE will also examine the environmental contexts that led to the emergence of pottery and the timing and dynamics of its apparent westward dispersal across NE Europe. A final question is to understand what happened to these pottery using hunter-gatherers once they encountered early agriculturalist with different traditions, economies and ancestry.
We will complete organic residue analysis of over
pottery vessels to record their function
Record the form, dimensions and manufacture technique of
vessels through AMS dating
We will obtain pottery from over
hunter-gatherer sites covering the 8th to 6th Millennium BC