Session: #225

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Organic Containers and Ceramic - Supplementary or Counterweight?
Ceramic made utensils are one of the most basic yet regarded as one of the more modest achievements in the cultural development of mankind. The permanence of early populations is closely linked to ceramics for their use in cooking and stockpiling. Today ceramic constitutes one of the most important forms of cultural classification allowing archaeologists to assign artifacts to a particular typological sequence. This is especially the case with prehistoric cultural groups such as the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods, which show significant regional and chronological differences.
So far, however, the research has not fully considered to what extent the ceramic made utensils were influenced by the presence and use of organic containers. Thus, watertight, lightweight and extremely stable bark containers had a significant advantage over the heavier and fragile ceramic. Other organic containers, such leather pouches were flexible and robust compared to the ceramic counterparts. Expansive baskets or flexible nets, as three-dimensional containers, may have had a huge advantage over ceramic containers. The function of coiled baskets used for heat is currently being examined.
The Striking collection of ceramic from the Horgener Culture group, 3400 and 2800 BC, in the region of west Switzerland and southern Baden-Württemberg, that is recognised for its coarse, thick-walled and cylindrical style, may indirectly indicate why no fine ceramic has been located and that this type of ceramic was compensated for by organic containers. Basically, the question arises as to what extent ceramics were influenced by the organic containers and what significance these have for early, agricultural based cultures and what conclusions can be drawn from this for the importance of textile manufacture.
organic containers, ceramic, textile manufacture, bark containers, prehistoric pile dwellings
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Main organiser:
Johanna Banck-Burgess (Germany) 1
Linda Hurcombe (United Kingdom) 2
Anja Probst-Böhm (Germany) 3
Sebastian Böhm (Germany) 4
1. Archäologische Denkmalpflege, Fachbereich Textilarchäologie, Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart
2. Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter
3. Archäologisches Landesmuseum Baden-Württemberg
4. Institut für Ur- und Frühgschichte, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg