Petrographic study of Bronze Age pottery from Eremita cave (Borgosesia, Vercelli, Italy): raw material selection and procurement

ContributorsIgrishta, Kaltrina
Number of pages200
Defense date2023-02-15

This thesis is an analysis of the pottery made by Bronze Age potters in northern Italy, in the Piedmont region and respectively found in the Eremita cave in Borgosesia (Vercelli, Italy). The Eremita Cave constitutes an important archaeological context for the analysis of social and ideological development in the Middle and Final Bronze Age in the southern Alps region of Central Europe. As a burial site, the cremations discovered here, were accompanied by a copper alloy pin and beads, pottery sherds, faunal fragments, arrowheads, lithics, etc. This research focuses on how people/potters produced pottery and how they used ceramic making techniques in wider social, cultural and environmental contexts. It attempts to answer research questions related to the origin of raw materials, the location of finished products and the distribution patterns of fine and coarse elements. The study of each of these areas provides valuable information on different but related aspects of human behaviour (Stoltman and Mainfort 2002). As Shepard (1965) notes, the importance of the potter's knowledge of materials is obvious. The choice of materials sets the boundaries within which the potter must work and the status of the craft must be judged within these boundaries. In addition, the potter's choice of materials and the way he uses them, as well as the form and style of decoration, are trademarks - our often - powerful means of locating centres of production. The analysis of the pottery found in the Eremita cave is carried out using petrography, a method of examining ceramic compositions and manufacturing processes through the microscopic analysis of thin sections and aimed at investigating paste composition and raw material choices. Given that the two main objectives of ceramic petrography, provenance determination and technology reconstruction, are interdependent and technological criteria can provide important data for the interpretation of ceramic provenance (Quinn 2013). As outlined below, the characteristics of the clay matrix regarding homogeneity/heterogeneity, colours, optical behaviour, b-fabrics; voids with their shape, size and orientation; and the characteristics of the inclusions, including roundness, angularity, sphericity and particle size distribution, indicate how the raw material has been collected and the chaine opératoires (Leroi-Gourhan 1964; Creswell 1976; Balfet 1981; Lemonnier 1983; Creswell 1983, 1996; Arnold 1985; Longacre 1991; Gallay 1992; Gosselain 1992; Dietler and Herbich 1994; Lemonnier 1992, 1993; Latour and Lemonnier 1994; Sigaut 1994) to give rise to a pot (Quinn 2013). Therefore, the study of ancient ceramics provides a wealth of information, which can help to reconstruct past cultural identities within a given period and geographical area (Arnold 1985). The pottery from the burial site of Eremita cave was observed and classified into groups, which were then thoroughly characterised using microscopic techniques. Five ceramic fabrics were identified. The raw material types were not collected randomly, but were selected or avoided because of their particular compositional properties and reflect the exploitation of fluvial, glacial and granitic rock deposits. The clay deposits are located at a distance of 1 to 5 km from the cave, which means that the raw material is local.

  • Archéologie
  • Préhistoire
  • Europe
  • Italie
  • Piémont
  • Grotte
  • Age du Bronze
  • Céramique
  • Poterie
  • Technologie céramique
  • Archéométrie
  • Matière première
Citation (ISO format)
IGRISHTA, Kaltrina. Petrographic study of Bronze Age pottery from Eremita cave (Borgosesia, Vercelli, Italy): raw material selection and procurement. 2023.
Main files (1)
Master thesis
  • PID : unige:169778

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