10 Neolithic Pottery Discoveries

The Neolithic Period is divided into three successive periods that collectively fall under the geographical range of the Old Civilization.

Neolithic Period or New Stone Age (10,000 BCE-3,000 BCE) originated in Southwest Asia and spans three phases: Pre-Pottery Neolithic A, Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, and Pottery Neolithic before culminating Stone Age. 

It is characterized by significant behavioral and cultural changes, including wild animals’ taming, domestication, and agriculture. Also featuring stone tools, sharpened by polishing and grinding, and the craftsmanship of pottery, architecture and weaving. It came after Paleolithic Period and made way for the Chalcolithic or Bronze Age. 

This article presents a list of the ten discoveries unearthed from the Pottery Neolithic Period. 

What occurred during the Neolithic Period? 

During this period, a transition occurred from the early hunting and gathering for food. The hunter-gatherers and foragers no longer roamed the wild in search of food but started farming and domesticating wild animals and wild plants. 

When did the Neolithic Period begin?

In 10,00 BC, the Neolithic period began in the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. Later, other parts of the world began using stone tools and farming. 

What are the two types of pottery of the Neolithic Age? 

During the early stage, Neolithic people made pots using wood, stones, leather, straws, and clay. They formed a clay pot by stacking rings of clay and smoothing out its edges and firing it under a bonfire. 

What was neolithic pottery used for?

Neolithic pottery was used as storage vessels for storing water and other foodstuffs. It was also used for cooking, rituals, and ceremonial purposes. It was also used as a bowl for eating.

What does Neolithic literally mean?

Neolithic is a combination of two Greek words: Neo and Lithos. ‘Neo’ means new and ‘lithos’ is stone. Hence, it means New Stone Age. 

10. Neolithic Cemetery in Ruicheng County, Shanxi Province

Archaeological Discovery at Neolithic Site in Ruicheng County
Archaeological Discovery at Neolithic Site in Ruicheng County

In North-China’s Shanxi Province lies Ruicheng County, which produced many graves dating back to the Neolithic era. The site was first excavated in 1995, resulting in finding a Neolithic cemetery.

A small team of researchers from Shanxi Provincial Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute researched the 5000 sq. meters area, located near the Qingliang temple or the Buddist Monastery of the Yuan Dynasty in 2003. 

Moreover, in 2004, a second attempt was made to conduct extensive research in the exact location by the same team. They had managed to uncover about 262 tombs and 200 jade-made objects for the funeral by the end of the year. Some pottery objects were also seen scattered over the site. 

The architecture of the funerary objects and tombs suggested that they were of the same tribe, as asserted by the team leader, Xue Xinming. They were arranged in a particular order, the more giant tombs being 1.3-1.8 meters wide and 2.3-2.6 meters long. Similarly, the smaller ones were 0.5-0.8 meters wide and 2 meters long. 

It was a time of great transition for the Central Plains when the cemetery was created, which provides information on the birth of Chinese civilization. 

9. Neolithic Salt Factory in England

Neolithic Salt Factory Found in England
Neolithic Salt Factory Found in England

According to Steve Sherlock, a history-altering discovery in Northern England changes the way we look at Neolithic, a lead researcher in a self-funded excavation. His finds include a trench with hearths, stone artifacts, a storage pit, stone and flint tools, and shards of Neolithic pottery bearing salt deposits. 

This amazing discovery suggests that the Neolithic people manufactured salt in Britain about 6,000 years ago. Archaeologists have asserted that this Neolithic site might be the oldest salt-processing hub in all of Western Europe, dating to around 3,800 BC.

According to Sherlock, salt was essentially used to preserve their food for the winter. As they growingly depended on livestock rearing and agriculture, brine became a vital preservative. No longer did they have to hunt and gather in the harsh winter. 

It is believed that they collected beach water, left it to evaporate to distill a concentrated brine. It was then processed in another site and stored in a brine pit before condensing into salt cakes. Another assumption is that they were sold or traded as well. 

A house, a cairn, and a mortuary structure unearthed at the same site suggests a thriving community. Perhaps those who retrieved processed salts, distributed and controlled them were from the higher echelons of society. 

Regardless, these findings were of national significance and explained the earlier trading mechanisms and technologies. 

 8. Oldest Woven Basket in Israel 

Oldest Woven Basket found in Judah Desert
Oldest Woven Basket found in Judah Desert

The Judean Desert in Israel has once again proved to be a reservoir of prehistoric artifacts. A recent excavation produced a 10,500-year-old woven basket, which was confirmed by IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority). The basket is about 92 liters capacity and dates back to the PPN (Pre-Pottery Neolithic) age. 

The Cave of Horrors in the Judean Desert was a fortunately favorable climate that sustained such a huge organic material as the basket in its original form. It is claimed as a one-of-a-kind discovery since organic materials decay and obliterate past relics. However, the basket was found intact with traces of soil. 

While researchers haven’t confirmed what the basket was used for, they believe it was used for storage. By studying the traces of soil from the basket, researchers can detail what was stored in the vessel. 

Buried almost three feet into the soil, the basket was salvaged in its original form. Similarly, the world’s oldest basket was hand-woven in a unique style by right-handed and left-handed people. 

The researchers claim that more light can be shed on the inhabitants of prehistory just by studying this basket. Moreover, it helps to understand the age-old manufacturing techniques, tools, and materials.

7. Lime Kiln in Israel 

10,400 years old Sunken Lime Kiln found in Israel
10,400 years old Sunken Lime Kiln found in Israel

A small sinkhole in the Nesher-Ramla quarry in Israel housed an important PPNB (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) artifact: a sunken limekiln. The site was investigated using infrared spectrometry and micromorphology, and radiocarbon dating to unveil the date of the unearthed elements. Some were found be to be 10,400 years old. 

When some sediments of the site were spectated, traces of in-situ, heat-altered debris was identified. This debris was rife with deposits of burnt limestone, lime plaster, and wood ash. They were cluttered as charcoal, phytoliths, and siliceous aggregates, all suggestive of a lime kiln processor. 

The charred remains of surrounding botanical items were identified as 10,400 cal BP old through radiocarbon dating. Thus, researchers conclude that the sinkhole was where a lime kiln operated during PPNB. It is based on a microscopic examination of the archaeological record. 

The cultural evolution in the PPNB is characterized by the use of lime plaster for several purposes, be it cultural, ceremonial, or ornamental. Based on the study report of the Nesher-Ramla quarry, the Neolithic people heated the lime cobbles to a high temperature (above 600 degrees ). They mixed the quicklime with water to achieve a paste-like putty. 

Some of the tombs featured plastered skulls during excavations. It is believed that plastering of the crown was of ceremonial significance and characteristically belonged to the elite class in Neolithic society. 

6. Prehistoric Human Figurine in Catalonia 

Most Ancient Pottery Prehistoric Figurine of the Iberian Peninsula
Most Ancient Pottery Prehistoric Figurine of the Iberian Peninsula

Can Sadurni Cave in Begues, Barcelona, is known for its discovery of the production and consumption of alcohol in the most ancient period. Researchers have been working on this cave for more than 34 years; and have yielded fascinating discoveries, such as a prehistoric human figurine.

The figurine is dismantled, one that only possesses a torso, neck, and right arm assumed to be male. With a height of 8 cm, 1.90 thickness, and varying thickness from chest and waist to its preserved arm, the whole body would turn out to be 16-18 cm in height. 

The figurine under observation with grazing lights reveals two different lines that perhaps resemble decorations or clothing. Further, the figure lacks a carving of breasts, leading researchers to believe it was a male human figurine. It is a novel attribution since more than 80% of excavated figurines are of females. 

A fracture in the place of its left arm verifies its existence, which may be found in further excavations. The components of the figurine have holes, indicating their suspension over a human neck or somewhere inside the cave. The head was perhaps interchangeable and holed in such a way to fit the neck. 

Literary suggestions of this image pertain to divinity and spiritual value. In a nutshell, the most ancient figure of the Iberian Peninsula depicts the characteristics of an idol or an enchanting talisman. 

5. Late Neolithic Pit Structures in Southern England

Image Showing Discovery of Pit Structure Around Durrington Wall in England
Image Showing Discovery of Pit Structure Around Durrington Wall in England

If you think Stonehenge was mysterious, this Late Neolithic pit will leave you in awe, as it did to the scientists who discovered it. South of Durrington Walls bears massive perforations or geophysical anomalies as identified by a fluxgate gradiometer survey. 

Just a few miles from Stonehenge lie 20 late Neolithic period pits, aligning with adjacent arcs of the Durrington Walls. Upon further geophysical survey and mechanical coring, the fieldwork demonstrates that the surface diameter of the pits is 20 meters and a depth of 5 meters. 

The whole circuit of pits exceeds 2 meters, and an inner course is also assumed to be fitted underground. They are placed in such a sophisticated manner that it shows they were intricately close to natural events. It is beyond our conception and can challenge modern world scientists. 

Flints and woods were recovered from deep within the pits. When these remains were examined, they revealed their existence since the Late Neolithic period. Similarly, the holes were found to have been recut. It partially asserts that they were cut and maintained during the Middle Bronze Age.

The discovery of 4,000-5,000-year-old pits or shafts encircling the Durrington Walls defines the Neolithic society and its complex standards. The professors assert that it is of immense, national significance to the UK and provides insight into the lives and beliefs of the Neolithic ancestors. 

4. Stoneware and Pottery at Heilongjiang in China

Early Phase Tomb Discovered in the Xiaonanshan Ruins of Raohe County
Early Phase Tomb Discovered in the Xiaonanshan Ruins of Raohe County

Excavation conducted in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang in China yielded many tombs and relics, including pottery and stonewares. A site located beside a river bordering China and Russia housed a Neolithic burial site, which came into light thousands of years later. 

Archaeologists have unearthed about 19 Neolithic tombs and 400 cultural relics dating back around 9,000 years. Xiaonanshan Ruins, a site at Raohe County bordering with Russia along the Wusuli River, bears a rich deposit of jade-wares and stone-wares of the ancient Chinese culture.

Researchers found that the tombs were made of Basalt and Malmstone. Since Basalt stones were not found in the area surrounding the site, it is implied that the stone was imported from a different region. The chambers of the tombs were smaller in space, with some being lesser than 1 meter in length. Researchers assume that bodies were laid on one side with flexed limbs. 

The tombs were also dotted funerary artifacts inside. Some contained many of them while some were short of them. This suggests that there was a gap between the poor and the rich people. However, their living culture and behavior of burials yet to be determined. 

The traces of human bones in powered form suggests that there was a settlement. Similarly, the river boasted various fishes and livestock around that fostered a thriving community of early settlers. A slice of the Neolithic people, their customs, and stone works can be found on this site. 

3. Pieces of Pottery in Shimao City of China

Stone Carvings Found at the Neolithic City of Shinmao in Shaanxi Province of China
Stone Carvings Found at the Neolithic City of Shinmao in Shaanxi Province of China

A US-based archaeology journal has enlisted the Neolithic city of Shimao as the top ten archaeological findings of the past decade. The northwestern part of China’s Shaanxi Province spans 4 million square meters and renowned as the lost city dating back around 2,300 BC. 

It was a significant hub of culture and politics of the late Longshan period in China during its time. This vast land is arranged in a tripartite manner: core city, inner-city and outer city. It was a complex city encircled by walls, where more than 70 stone reliefs were found. 

These stone-relief totems were excellent examples of the detailed, mature architectural skills of the late culture. They were used in building inner walls, according to the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology. Along with this, shards of pottery and bones were also found scattered on the site. 

It was housed by a powerful dynasty, which constitutes an important site for learning about Chinese culture. It was also tentatively enlisted among China’s list of World Heritage Sited for UNESCO. This site was a discovery that was never before recorded in any ancient texts. Hence, a significant turning point for Chinese archaeologists and researchers. 

2. Gobekli Tepe in Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey

Stone Pillars at Gobekli Tepe that are also known as the Oldest Monoliths in the World
Stone Pillars at Gobekli Tepe that are also known as the Oldest Monoliths in the World
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Gobekli Tepe, also known as Potbelly Hill, caught the eyes of the German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt as it was a mound rising 50 feet above the surface. He doubted that it was an artificial round hill from the Stone Age. The following year, he assembled with five other colleagues at the site for excavation.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site has two phases and two layers. The first layer is dated to the end of PPNA (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) around 9,000 years ago and the younger or second layer to PPNB (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B), between 8,300 to 7,400 years. This site is attributed as the first known human settlement for the domestication of plants and animals. 

Further evidence also suggests hunting and killing of gazelles in the site. It also houses clusters of huts (mud brick) and stone houses. About 200 pillars of 20 feet, weighing 10 tons, form as many as 20 circles in the site. The T-shaped stone pillars that dot the area are known as the oldest monoliths of the world. 

However, in the second phase of PPNB, the pillars are shorter, standing on polished lime floors in rectangular. The site was abandoned after the second phase of PPNB. The location was perfect to see the plains beneath on both sides. 

The village life began here, where people ground domesticated cereals through mortar and pestle. This statement is corroborated by the finding of mortar and pestle in the site with traces of ground cereals. The site amply contains evidence of the transition from hunting-gathering to subsistence farming life or, as Archeologists put it, the Neolithic Revolution. 

1. Legumes at Ahihud in Israel 

Left-Specimen of Faba Beans from the Site at Ahihud in Israel
Right- Modern Specimen of Faba Beans
Left-Specimen of Faba Beans from the Site at Ahihud in Israel
Right- Modern Specimen of Faba Beans

A discovery from the prehistoric site at Ahihud in Israel reveals the early farming techniques. Through radiocarbon dating, legumes from the shafts and pits were examined from the site. The 12 legumes and their farming technique resembled the early practice at Southern Levant between 10.240-10.200 years. 

Several beans such as L. inconspicuous (inconspicuous pea), V. Avila (bitter vetch), V. faba (fava beans), Lens sp. (lentil), L. hirosolymitanus (Jerusalem vetching), Pisum sativum (pea), were collected from around the site and pits, dating to the Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB). 

When they were compared with new sites, what was unique was that peas, Jerusalem vetchling, bitter vetch were found together with lentils and faba beans. It was new for Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) period. It hinted at a unique pattern of storage and farming during that period, especially regarding their agriculture. 

Other items collected from the site are axes and sickle blades. They were primarily lithic tools that dated to the Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic, including obsidian artifacts. Obsidian poses another mystery and later proves that the locals had access to the raw materials from the Northern Levant since this stone was not locally sourced. 

Thus, the discovery sheds light on the early Neolithic agriculture and storage of grains, not to forget the addition of fava beans and lentils. 

CONCLUSION

The findings never supply before recorded information and insights on the lives and behaviors of our Neolithic ancestors. From settling atop a rugged hill at Gobelik Tepe and beginning to farm to domesticating newed wild beans, it speaks volumes on their agricultural pattern. 

Similarly, their cemetery reveals their core belief in spirituality, fertility, and divine power. It also highlights the class differences in their society. 

 

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