Monday, March 30, 2015

Motif Mysteries - Valera

An interesting essay in this month's Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Patrimonio looks at the stylistic motifs of some early Ciempozuelos pottery.  (The article is in English)

On the left is what appears to be crop rows of a plant with seed or berries on the leaves.  The one on the right is a more stylized version, the sub-components of which appear repeatedly throughout Ciempozuelos pottery.

This is a fairly important discovery because the abstraction process can be demonstrated between two sherds at the same site.  This is hugely important for the understanding of Ciempozuelos and Beaker pottery in general.

There has always been an historical trend towards disassociation and abstraction.  This is how a cows head (aleph) became the letter "A" and so on.  Everything becomes short, sloppy, abbreviated, schematic, representative, etc.

The plant depicted here is a seasonal crop in rows with symmetrical leaves.  It doesn't appear woody and it doesn't appear to be a cereal.  Rather it has little berries, fruits or beans within its general body.  Other than peas or lintels, I really can't think of another food item that would be cultivated so intensely as to be the solely depicted plant of this pottery, unless this particular plant is uniquely symbolic.

It's not cannabis.  In a previous post [here], I mentioned that henbane was positively identified in a Ciempozuelos beaker.  Aside from the symmetry, it could plausibly be a large stalky plant as this.  (It is noteworthy that all Ciempozuelos pottery has sun symbols or emblazoning on it... and the person buried with it faces the rising sun...?

Regardless of the exact plant, it is possible to now see the formation of some of the abstract motifs.

More [here] [here] [here] [here]

Valera, MAR 2015, [Link]


  1. Have a look at the leaves and berries of the Rowan tree.

    1. Interesting. I'll have to read more about this. Appears caffeinated and also used in wines and ales.

  2. Ok 2 other things. There is still a Demetian dialect of Welsh in North Pembrokeshire. A couple of things that may interest you, the word 'Trigole' -'the 3 marks or paths of a road, via the wheel tracks and horse tracks. these are to be seen on a road that has been recently metalled.' from The Glossary of the Demetian Dialect of north pembrokeshire by Rev. W meredith Morris. Basically your 3 lines may indicate a path or road. It would be interesting to check all the shapes of the beakers from above, so see if they are all oval 9:10, random shapes or perfect circles. There are other words for the drinking of alcohol at the end of harvest and at funerals, plus the caffine one (even more of a long shot), is the word for fortune telling using leaves in drinks. Lao the druids it says in this book, used a birch twig to anoint from sacred vessels. So Birch trees also a possibility. The silver birch may well have been planted in sacred places (eg the end of an Avenue from a stone circle) along with Rowan trees along the avenue, or branches from the trees. Obviously, we'll never know, but just ideas.

  3. I would think of a barley field...