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British Pottery: The First 3000 Years (Paperback)

Ceramic Art in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age

P&S History > Archaeology > British Archaeology

By Alex Gibson
Imprint: Oxbow Books
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 70 B/W Illustrations
ISBN: 9798888570715
Published: 31st October 2024

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Pottery was at the heart of the ‘Neolithic package’ appearing in Britain with the first farmers around 4000 BC. It arrived as a mature technology and was essential to the new, largely sedentary, lifestyle and economy. It transformed storage and cooking practices, and the earliest ceramics seem to have been essential equipment in the new practice of dairying. The pottery changed over time and, as a result, ceramics have been fundamental to the construction of relative chronologies since the early days of modern archaeology. Even with the development of absolute dating techniques, the role of pottery as a dating tool has not diminished but instead has become refined and more accurate.But pottery is not just a tool to dating the past – it also represents a facet of prehistoric art and expression. Starting simply, ceramics became arguably the main medium for display with designs often of great complexity. Simple techniques, motifs and panels are combined to create highly decorated vessels often of great individuality. The use of inlays, pastes and slips added contrasting colors to these vibrant designs.By the end of the Neolithic, ceramics became one of the major grave goods of British Prehistory, acting as accompaniments to those that warranted formal burial whether by inhumation or cremation. This practice continued throughout the Early Bronze Age to the extents that, lacking contemporary domestic sites, most of the corpora of Early Bronze Age ceramics are largely sepulchral in context. As we increasingly realize that burial rituals may have been varied and complex, so the roles of these ceramics are becoming increasingly questioned.This book traces the 3000 years of ceramic use and development in Britain, charting the changing forms and decorative techniques and the differing and changing roles that pottery played within its contemporary society.

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About Alex Gibson

Alex Gibson has specialised in the study of ceramics for over 40 years and has published books and specialist reports on the topic. He has been Chairman of the Prehistoric Ceramics Research Group and President of the Prehistoric Society and was the winner of the 2022 British Academy Grahame Clark medal for Prehistoric Archaeology. He lectured in Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeology at Bradford until his retirement in 2018.

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