Monday, August 4, 2014

Food Vessel tradition

Here's a thesis posted recently on British Food Vessels:

Food vessel from child's grave Doune in Perthshire (National Museum of Scotland)

"Food vessel" substitution is a distinct tradition in the late Insular Beaker Culture, although it was variously practiced both before and outside the Beaker Culture.  Other continental Beaker cultures did incorporate other vessels into graves, but usually not as substitutions for Beakers and not of this heavy, flower pot style.

Because British Beaker Culture drew from several origins, its distribution is also not uniform.  The Central European derived Wessex Culture wasn't really into food vessels and the earliest Beakers in both Ireland and Britain are not associated with food vessels.  So food vessels are variously viewed as a late development, possibly a re-emergence of an older tradition and something preceding Collard Urns.

Food vessels have a strange origin because while they are similar to Middle Neolithic types within the region, they don't seem to have direct continuity at the local level.  They do look like Peterborough Ware, but it would be something like Early Mississippian or Woodland Indian pottery suddenly becoming popular again.  It's kind of hard to imagine how clunky pottery like this became a popular burial vessel.

NEIL C.A. WILKIN, 2013/2014 [Link]


This thesis demonstrates the significance of Food Vessel pottery and burial in Northern England during the Early Bronze Age (c.2200 to 1800 cal BC). It represents the first original and sustained study of this burial tradition for several decades. It is argued that the interwoven relationships between Food Vessels, other ceramic types, and trade and exchange networks are both a reason why the tradition has posed interpretative problems for prehistorians, and a central component of its significance during the Early Bronze Age. The chronological relationships between British Food Vessels and other ceramic and funerary traditions are reviewed using the first comprehensive and critically assessed dataset of radiocarbon determinations. Previous approaches to Food Vessel typology are critically reviewed and a new approach based on the ‘potter’s perspective’ and contextual studies is proposed. A contextual approach is applied to Food Vessels from three regions of Northern England: the Northern Counties; North-East Yorkshire, the central lowlands and North-West England; and South-East Yorkshire. Each study reveals significant inter- and intra-regional similarities and differences in how Food Vessels were used and understood. The significance of Food Vessel pottery and burial is then discussed at a national scale.
[More on food vessels]

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