The role of pottery in Middle Neolithic societies of western Mediterranean (Sardinia, Italy, 4500-4000 cal BC) revealed through an integrated morphometric, use-wear, biomolecular and isotopic approach

Publication date: May 2018Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 93
Author(s): Laura Fanti, Léa Drieu, Arnaud Mazuy, Thierry Blasco, Carlo Lugliè, Martine Regert
The use of pottery in the Early Neolithic communities of Western Mediterranean has begun to be addressed by recent studies concerning the residues of dietary commodities in potsherds. In order to contribute to a broader perspective on the issue of pottery function, we investigate pottery assemblages through an integrated methodology, combining the study of vessel morphology and morphometry, use-wear analysis, biomolecular and compound-specific carbon isotopic analysis of residues. We focus on the use of pottery containers by advanced Middle Neolithic societies of Sardinia (Italy, 4500-4000 cal BC), protagonists of significant technical, economic and cultural changes in the completion of Neolithisation in this island. The aims are to elucidate the role of whole pottery assemblages in technical and socioeconomic systems of Middle Neolithic communities and to provide data on the exploitation of animal and plant resources during this phase.Based on the integrated combination of data, six categories of vessel use are identified. The results reveal a differential integration of vessels in activities related to the exploitation of distinct kinds of resources (ruminant adipose/dairy fats and plant foods vs. non-ruminant and aquatic products) and highlight specific behaviours of Middle Neolithic societies in selecting pottery morphotypes for different uses, notably in processing products with heating.