Monday, January 29, 2018

Beaker Classic (Convertini, 2017)

You might remember Oliver Lermercier's particular implantation model of Southeast France.  Very broadly it seeks to explain the interaction between native peoples in Provence and in Eastern Languedoc and their Beakerization by foreigners to some degree.  It uses Hellenization of the Mediterranean as a model for how numerically disadvantaged foreigners imposed culture and genetics on people, not totally, at least in the beginning.

Here, Convertini uses thin section pottery analyses to look at continuity and change in the pottery manufacture of this region between the Neolithic and Beaker Age.  He proposes two hypotheses, but his preferred one is a situation in which foreigners enter the region with foreign manufacturing techniques and a foreign style.  This is followed by a period in which native people are using native techniques to imitate the sinuous form of Beaker pottery and its character, and then this is followed by a gradual fusion/evolution.

All I have is the abstract, but please share the wealth if you have it and I'll update this post.

"Almost the Real Thing" (Treemix)

Les dégraissants des céramiques des sites d’Avignon (Vaucluse)nouvelles données, nouvelles visions de l’implantation du Campaniforme dans le Midi de la France


The thin section analysis of a series of Bell Beaker geometric dotted style ceramics and of a mixed beaker from the city of Avignon (Vaucluse) allowed us to consider the current state of our knowledge and to reflect in an innovative manner on the Bell Beaker implantation in the South of France. The starting point of the study showed that the majority of the clay resources are local and come from the exploitation of a natural mixture of Rhone alluvions and lateral carbonate contributions. Apart from the mixed beaker, ceramics made from these clays were all tempered only with crushed calcite. The places of origin of the clays of the other two families, represented by only one vase each, are farther away, without it being possible to be more specific. Moreover, these two vases were the only ones that were tempered with grog. These data have made it possible to establish that geometric dotted style productions present in Avignon included various practices implemented in different geographical areas; one of the two foreign vases, moreover, has a paste that also contained crushed carbonates. On the other hand, in Avignon, on the basis of the samples analysed, the practice of tempering ceramics with grog does not seem to have existed; only the presence of crushed calcite could be identified for locally manufactured geometric dotted productions.

Within the series analysed, two types of temper were therefore used. The first, the most commonly used, corresponds to the crushed calcites present in the majority of pastes of decorated Bell Beaker pottery as well as in that of the pre-oral rope vase. Grog, which is the second temper, was introduced only in the pastes of the two foreign vases. In western Provence, crushed calcite is a temper which has already been identified in the pastes of decorated Bell Beakers vases from Les Calades (Orgon, Bouches-du-Rhône) and Les Barres (Eyguières, Bouches-du-Rhône), which are stylistically similar to those of Avignon, as well as in the pastes of Rhodano-Provençal decorated production from Collet-Redon (Martigues, Bouches-du-Rhône). To the west of the Rhone, in eastern Languedoc, very few Bell Beaker ceramics of the same style as those from Avignon are known and none have been analysed. Very few petrographic analyses were carried out on beakers attributed to J. Guilaine’s early phase, which proved to be almost never tempered with crushed calcite. On the other hand, the use of crushed calcite is largely attested for the ceramics of the Rhodano-Provençal group and the associated common ceramics in eastern Languedoc.

Since the Early Neolithic, crushed calcite has been traditionally used as a temper by potters in Provence and in eastern Languedoc. A large part of the Late Neolithic productions from Provence contain it and it is omnipresent in the pottery from the other Late Neolithic sites (Fontbouisse) in the Gard and the east of the Herault département.
The Avignon series has especially brought results for local vases of the geometric dotted style that have been confronted with the data previously obtained on other corpuses from Provence and Languedoc.

The new data acquired over the past few years allow two hypotheses to be envisaged. The first is to consider that the Bell Beaker potters originally corresponded to individuals from the same substratum, possessing a unique and common (but no longer determinable) practice, or they may also correspond to geographically heterogeneous individuals, without a single practice concerning the use or otherwise of tempers. In both cases, when settling in, they would have adopted the cultural practices of the populations of the local substratum. This would involve the borrowing of clay preparation recipes from indigenous populations. The second hypothesis resumes a proposition already presented in a previous study. In order to explain the characteristics of the
geometric dotted production of phase 2 of J. Guilaine’s model, we proposed that at the end of the Neolithic, after an initial phase (phase 1) of short duration (probably some decades) during which the beakers were made locally by individuals foreign to the substratum, part of the indigenous population copied these beakers and then quickly created new shapes while diversifying the decoration.

The first proposal implies that the Bell Beaker potters who wished to establish themselves systematically adopted local cultural practices concerning the temper for the preparation of the ceramic pastes of each population of the substratum present on the territory where they settled. This hypothesis is quite plausible because several ethno-archaeological studies have shown that potters displaced into another human group can modify their know-how under the influence of the traditions of the populations in which they settle. Such borrowing may concern the temper but also shaping or decoration techniques. The nature and duration of contacts appear to be important. The reasons given for such borrowing are the ease and speed of shaping as well as consumer demand. These types of borrowing do not seem to be retained in the case of the Bell Beaker potters since the forms and the decorations are radically different from those of the indigenous productions. Nevertheless, the adoption of a locally used temper may have helped spread the beakers among indigenous populations.

The second hypothesis that we have chosen to privilege and develop is the opposite of the previous one. It is not the newcomers who borrow traditions but the natives who adopt a new ceramic form, the beaker. This hypothesis explains why the Bell Beaker productions are identical to the ceramics of the substratum, from the point of view of the use of temper, in particular crushed calcite, since they were made by the same local cultural groups. Moreover, this hypothesis also explains the systematic presence on the Bell Beaker sites of substratum ceramics other than through acquisitions made with indigenous populations. Nevertheless, a specificity can differentiate Bell Beaker productions from other locally made ceramics because, on the left bank of the Rhone, at Calades and Barres, but also in Avignon in the case of the two allochtonous ceramics, grog is found, in association with the crushed calcite still used in most productions.
This hypothesis thus makes it possible to propose a renewed reading of modalities concerning the borrowing, reinterpretation and development of Bell Beaker ceramics by some of the potters of the indigenous cultures of the Late Neolithic following the first contacts with individuals foreign to the substratum. In particular, they highlight the variability of the behaviour of potters who use this pottery with, in particular, the manufacture of stylistically similar ceramics in different places according to distinct practices, but which are largely identical with local traditions. This situation can be observed in current traditional societies where borrowing mechanisms can be rapid, in the region of a few decades. Imitations can be the result of the arrival of a new potter with his own decors, which is very close to the situation envisaged for the Bell Beaker culture. On the other hand, the time required for the appearance of new ceramic decorations and forms is difficult to access by ethno-archaeology, but archaeological examples from lakeside sites which have yielded dilated stratigraphic sequences allow an order of magnitude of a few decades for this period.

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