Hunter-gatherer social ties spread pottery far and wide – ScienceDaily

Analysis of more than 1,200 vessels from hunter-gatherer sites has shown that pottery-making techniques spread quickly over great distances through the transmission of social traditions.

The team, which includes researchers from the University of York and the British Museum, analyzed the remains of 1,226 pottery vessels from 156 hunter-gatherer sites in nine countries in northern and eastern Europe. They combined radiocarbon dating with data on the manufacture and decoration of ceramic vessels and analysis of the remains of food found in the pots.

Their results, published in the journal nature of human behaviorr, indicate that from 5,900 B.C. quickly spread westward and took only 300-400 years to advance over 3,000 km, equivalent to 250 km in a single generation.

Professor Oliver Craig of the University of York’s Department of Archeology said: “Our analysis of the way pots were designed and decorated, as well as new radiocarbon dates, suggest that knowledge of pottery spread through a process of cultural transmission.

“By this we mean that the activity spread through the exchange of ideas between groups of hunter-gatherers living nearby, and not through human migration or an increasing population, as we see for other major shifts in human history.” see the introduction of farming. “

“It is quite surprising that methods of pottery have spread so widely and so quickly through the transmission of ideas. Specific knowledge may have been shared through marriages or at aggregation centers, at specific points in the landscape where groups of hunter-gatherers congregated, perhaps at specific times of the year.”

By examining traces of organic materials in the pots, the team showed that the pottery was used for cooking, so ideas about pottery making may have spread through shared culinary traditions.

Carl Heron of the British Museum said: “We have found evidence that the vessels were used to cook a wide range of animals, fish and plants, and this diversity suggests that the drivers behind the making of the pottery were not directed to any specific need responded, such as detoxifying plants or processing fish, as previously suggested.

“We also found patterns that suggest the use of pottery was passed down, along with knowledge of how to make it and decorate it. This can be viewed as a culinary tradition that passed quickly with the artifacts themselves.”

The world’s earliest pottery vessels originated in East Asia and may have spread rapidly eastward through Siberia before being absorbed by hunter-gatherer societies throughout northern Europe long before agriculture emerged.

This research is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

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Materials provided by University of York. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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