Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chemical Analysis of Beaker ceramics ("Campaniforme") from Northern Spain

Bell Beaker pottery (Campaniforme) appear in the Middle Chalcolithic Meseta (in Northern Spanish plateau) and very gradually replace the older pottery styles.  Ballestero, Diaz and Alonzo argue for a methodology of chemical analysis, which is really the main focus of the paper.

Chemical analysis has previously and very convincingly demonstrated that burial beaker cups were used for drinking wheat and barley beers, mead, possibly milk and less frequently, medicinal substances.  The authors argue that knowing the origin of the clay is critical to understanding alien pottery in a region.

Here, chemical analysis was used to determine that roughly 10% of the Late Chalcolithic (Beaker) pottery in the Arlanzon area came from out-of-town.  Pottery that came from outside the region was almost exclusively International Style Beakers.  A substantial portion of that they link to a known pottery studio on the Guadiana River (Southern Portugal).

Arlanzon River Valley pottery (Ballestero et al, 2014)

Of course, 90% of the Arlanzon pottery in the Late Chalcolithic was locally made which the authors leave as a discussion topic for others:  At what point did the Arlanzon region begin producing locally made 'alien beaker pottery' or did the alien potters slowly migrate to Arlanzon?

Chemical analysis of chalcolithic pottery from Arlanzón river middle basin (Burgos): a way to examine the origin and exchange (Ballestero, Diaz, Alonzo, 2014)

The study is aimed on pottery that it is recovered in Chalcolithic contexts from Arlanzón River Middle Basin. Within these sets of pottery there are similarities and differences —morpho-typological and technical—, which it is necessary to study in order to understand its significance in archaeological terms. To doing so, we need to use a different method than typology. In fact, we used chemical analysis of ceramic as a way to obtain less subjective observations. The results allow discussing about origin and exchange of Chalcolithic pottery in this zone of the Spanish North Plateau. Data show a mainly local origin of ceramics with some exchanged artifacts. In archaeological terms, the pattern may be related to a domestic model of production.


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