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date: 07 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This contribution outlines chronological patterns in the form, manufacture, decoration, use and significance of Neolithic pottery in Northern Europe. In Scandinavia and northern central Europe a four-phase chronology is outlined: Early Neolithic (4100–3400 BC); Middle Neolithic (3400–2800 BC); Younger Neolithic (2800–2300 BC); and Late Neolithic (2300–1700 BC). While regional variations are visible in the Early Neolithic, during the Middle Neolithic elaborated pottery designs became enormously varied until this tendency decreased during the late Middle Neolithic. New pottery traditions emerged in the Younger Neolithic and Late Neolithic, in conjunction with new supra-regional cultural trends. Throughout, pottery design and fabric could be used as a proxy for societal developments. Neolithic pottery in Britain and Ireland was produced from shortly after 4000 BC. There are regional variations but overall a four phase chronology for the pottery is also suggested: First Neolithic, approximately 4000–3800 BC; Early Neolithic, approximately 3800–3500 BC; Middle Neolithic, approximately 3500–2900 BC; and Late Neolithic, approximately 2900–2400 BC. Within this framework evidence for the processes of pottery production and use are studied to define a number of different traditions and practices. The external form of vessels seems to be strongly codified in the early part of the period, although there was a range of different inclusion recipes used. In the Middle and Later Neolithic there seem to be much simpler fabrics but a greater range of vessel shapes. This later pottery also seems to have been used for a much wider range of tasks.

Keywords: Pottery, chronology, traditions of practice, materiality

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