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Pyrotechnological connections? Re-investigating the link between pottery firing technology and the origins of metallurgy in the Vinča Culture, Serbia

Amicone, S; Radivojević, M; Quinn, PS; Berthold, C; Rehren, T; (2020) Pyrotechnological connections? Re-investigating the link between pottery firing technology and the origins of metallurgy in the Vinča Culture, Serbia. Journal of Archaeological Science , 118 , Article 105123. 10.1016/j.jas.2020.105123. Green open access

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Abstract

The present paper re-examines the purported relationship between Late Neolithic/Early Chalcolithic pottery firing technology and the world's earliest recorded copper metallurgy at two Serbian Vinča culture sites, Belovode and Pločnik (c. 5350 to 4600 BC). A total of eighty-eight well-dated sherds including dark-burnished and graphite-painted pottery that originate across this period have been analysed using a multi-pronged scientific approach in order to reconstruct the raw materials and firing conditions that were necessary for the production of these decorative styles. This is then compared to the pyrotechnological requirements and chronology of copper smelting in order to shed new light on the assumed, yet rarely investigated, hypothesis that advances in pottery firing technology in the late 6th and early 5th millennia BC Balkans were an important precursor for the emergence of metallurgy in this region at around 5000 BC. The results of this study and the recent literature indicate that the ability to exert sufficiently close control over the redox atmosphere in a two-step firing process necessary to produce graphite-painted pottery could indeed link these two crafts. However, graphite-painted pottery and metallurgy emerge at around the same time, both benefitting from the pre-existing experience with dark-burnished pottery and an increasing focus on aesthetics and exotic minerals. Thus, they appear as related technologies, but not as one being the precursor to the other.

Type: Article
Title: Pyrotechnological connections? Re-investigating the link between pottery firing technology and the origins of metallurgy in the Vinča Culture, Serbia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2020.105123
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2020.105123
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Pyrotechnology, Late Neolithic, Vinča culture, Ceramic technology, Dark-burnished pottery, Graphite decoration, Early metallurgy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10096808
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