Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Continuity and changes of manufacturing traditions of Bell Beaker and Bronze Age encrusted pottery in the Morava river catchment (Czech Republic) (Vsiansky, Kolar, Petrik, 2014)

Pavla Růžičková pasting a beaker "Beaker Days, 2005"

Unfortunately, I cannot see the Vsiansky paper examining the pasting of Moravian beakers since it is behind a paywall.  However, the abstract and link is documented below.

An article in 2010 looked at the inlays of Scottish beaker pottery and describes recent understanding of just how common beaker bone pasting was in various regions.  In essence, the Prehistoric Society article suggests that pasting may have been very common in beaker pottery but only survived in certain soil conditions.  They further suggest that beaker pottery was 'tattooed' with white-dipped incision tool.

In short, the abstract from the Vsiansky paper mentions up to four materials used for pasting.  That kind of torpedos any previous notion of bone paste having a special significance.  Coloration seems to have been very important to Beaker people.

A Pasted Beaker replica.  "Beaker Days, 2005"


The white inlayed decorations represent a distinctive phenomenon of prehistoric Europe, and are known to have been produced in diverse areas since the Neolithic. This paper reveals how the raw materials were gathered and utilized, as well as the complex technological processes of the inlay decorations, from the period of their widest production and use. A large set of shards of Late Copper Age Bell Beakers and Early Bronze age vessels from Moravia (Czech Republic) were examined, with a focus on material analyses of the white inlay decorations. Based on x-ray diffraction analyses, five technology groups were defined: kaolin, bone material, carbonates, gypsum plaster, and mixtures of some of those materials. The gypsum plaster inlay represents the oldest evidence of gypsum production and application in Central Europe. The results indicate both regional and chronological aspects in the selection of the raw materials. In contrast to the bone and gypsum, the kaolin inlay was not thermally treated. Based on the physical properties of bones and the crystallinity of bone hydroxylapatite, it can be presumed that the encrusting slurry was prepared out of fired bones. These facts prove a knowledge of the different properties of the individual raw materials; hence, the need for different production chains.

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