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Playing with fire: Exploring ceramic pyrotechnology in the Late Neolithic Balkans through an archaeometric and experimental approach

Amicone, S; Forte, V; Solard, B; Berthold, C; Memmesheimer, A; Mirković-Marić, N; (2021) Playing with fire: Exploring ceramic pyrotechnology in the Late Neolithic Balkans through an archaeometric and experimental approach. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports , 37 , Article 102878. 10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.102878. Green open access

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Abstract

Addressing ceramic pyrotechnology plays a key role in understanding a wide range of cultural and social behaviours associated to pottery production. Firing is the process which transforms clay into ceramic, which is one of the most frequently preserved materials in the majority of Neolithic and later archaeological sites. Though firing temperatures and the functions of various pyrotechnological installations have been extensively investigated in archaeology, both have often been addressed separately. Most of our knowledge on firing structures and procedures in the Neolithic are still largely based on ethnoarchaeological evidence. To move forward, we need to consider all aspects involved in ancient pyrotechnology, together with use of additional investigative tools. This study aims to address Neolithic pottery firing from a diverse perspective that merges archaeometric analyses and experimental archaeology. To demonstrate the potential of this approach, we combined an archaeometric case study of pottery from the late Neolithic (5200–4800 BCE) from the site of Gradište-Iđjoš (Serbia) with experimental pit firings, likely one of the mostly frequently employed firing techniques used in prehistoric periods. Scientific analyses include X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and ceramic petrography. These methods were run on both archaeological materials and experimental reproductions. Additionally, a detailed program of firing temperature monitoring, integrated observations on atmospheric conditions, soaking time, and duration were recorded to contribute to the study. The experiments enabled us to collect results useful for our understanding of the pyrotechnological knowledge of Neolithic potters from a technological and social point of view. In addition, they demonstrated the potential of a dedicated methodological framework for studying pottery firing that can be applied to other chronological and cultural contexts.

Type: Article
Title: Playing with fire: Exploring ceramic pyrotechnology in the Late Neolithic Balkans through an archaeometric and experimental approach
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.102878
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.102878
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: Ancient pyrotechnology, Prehistoric Balkans, Vinča material culture, Pottery technology, Pottery firing, Experimental archaeology, Archaeometry
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10125726
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