By Peter Jordan, Marek Zvelebil
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Extra info for Ceramics Before Farming: The Dispersal of Pottery Among Prehistoric Eurasian Hunter-Gatherers
The earliest northern pottery assemblages are found later than in the south, and are notably different from the round-based southern wares, these being largely flat-based jars (Chi 2002: 34; Zhao and Wu 2000: 235). Pots from Yujiagou are sand-tempered, reddish- or yellowish-brown in colour, slab-built and cord-marked along with what are probably fingernail impressions. Thermoluminescence dating of one sherd places its age around 11,000 bp (Chi 1999: 7). At Nanzhuangtou, the ceramic paste is tempered with quartz, mica or shell, and pots are coil-built and cord-paddled.
Some of the best-known evidence for early ceramic objects has been recovered from the Upper Palaeolithic site of Dolní Věstonice, in the present-day Czech Republic. Remains of around 2,000 fired clay figurines including the ‘Venus’ figurine have been recovered. Production of ceramic images appears to have been a widespread practice amongst Ice Age hunter-gatherers. In Central Europe, figurines are regularly found at sites of the Pavlovian culture, and date between 28,000 and 22,000 BP (Oliva 2005; Soffer and Vandiver 1997; Soffer et al.
Technologies have been explored from divergent perspectives: innovations have been regarded as the driving force of culture change, with discoveries marking milestones on humanity’s general path of progress (Sherratt 1981, 1995, 1997). The form and content of new technological traditions, especially those of hunter-gatherers, have also been argued to reflect the more general functional requirements of populations as they seek out means to adapt most efficiently to the constraints of local environments (Torrence 2001).