Early pottery in Afroeurasia - Origins and possible routes of dispersal

Article (PDF Available)inBericht der Romisch-Germanischen Kommission 89:59-88 · January 2008with 357 Reads
Abstract
Written from a Central European perspective, this chapter will present a coarse overview of recent developments in studies on early container pottery emergence in Afroeur-asia. In order to understand the wider implications of the technological innovation and its spread to Europe, it is necessary to take a broad view and to investigate the current status of knowledge for the various centres of origin for pottery. It appears that early container pottery emerged independently in two broad zones, eastern Asia and West- and northern Africa, towards the end of the Pleistocene and during the earlier Holocene. Such container pottery was manufactured by small bands of sedentary or semi-sedentary hunter-gatherer-fishers. The new technology spread from these centres, but it is at present unclear whether pottery reached Europe from these distant source areas, as chronological and spatial gaps rupture the proposed routes of diffusion. A third centre of origin is the northern "Fertile Crescent", where container pottery emerges in the course of the 6 th millennium cal BC among farming societies, possibly independently of the other regions. The spread of pottery into Europe itself appears to follow long-term communication routes across western Afroeurasia which are also reflected in the three different neolithisation streams.
11
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Inhaltsverzeichnis
Frühe Keramik im Ostseeraum – Datierung und Sozialer Kontext.
Internationaler Workshop in Schleswig vom 20. bis 21. Oktober 2006
Herausgegeben von Sönke Hartz, Friedrich Lüth and Thomas Terberger . . . . . . 7
Bericht über die Tätigkeit der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission
in der Zeit vom 1. Januar bis 31. Dezember 2008
Von Friedrich Lüth und Susanne Sievers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 501
Hinweise für Publikationen der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission . . . . . . . 569
44
Table of Contents
Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context.
International Workshop at Schleswig from 20th to 21st October 2006
Edited by Sönke Hartz, Friedrich Lüth and Thomas Terberger . . . . . . . . . . 7
Report of the activities of the Römisch-Germanische Kommission
in the period from 1st January to 31st December 2008
By Friedrich Lüth and Susanne Sievers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 501
Guidelines for Publications of the Römisch-Germanische Kommission . . . . . . . 569
55
Table des matières
Céramique précoce en région baltique – Datation et contexte social.
Atelier international de Schleswig du 20 au 21 octobre 2006
Sous la direction de Sönke Hartz, Friedrich Lüth et Thomas Terberger . . . . . . . 7
Rapport sur les activités de la Römisch-Germanische Kommission
du 1er janvier au 31 décembre 2008
Par Friedrich Lüth et Susanne Sievers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 501
Recommandations aux auteurs publiant à la Römisch-Germanische Kommission . . . 569
66
77
Early Pottery in the Baltic –
Dating, Origin and Social Context
International Workshop at Schleswig from 20th to 21st October 2006
Frühe Keramik im Ostseeraum – Datierung und Sozialer Kontext.
Internationaler Workshop in Schleswig vom 20. bis 21. Oktober 2006
Céramique précoce en région baltique - Datation et contexte social.
Atelier international de Schleswig du 20 au 21 octobre 2006
Edited by Sönke Hartz, Friedrich Lüth and Thomas Terberger
Inhaltsverzeichnis
Pottery use among late foragers and early farmers in the Baltic: New molecular and
isotopic investigations
Keramikgebrauch zwischen Wildbeutern und frühen Bauern im Ostseeraum. Neue
Molekular- und Isotopenforschungen
L’utilisation de la céramique par les chasseurs-cueilleurs et les premiers paysans en région
balte. Nouvelles recherches moléculaires et isotopiques
By Carl Heron and Oliver E. Craig . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Zur pollenanalytischen Datierung archäologischer Funde in ufernahen Sedimenten –
zwei Beispiele zur Keramik der frühen Trichterbecher-Kultur aus Ostholstein
On the pollen-based dating of archaeological finds in sediments near shores – two exam-
ples on the pottery of the early Funnel Beaker culture in East Holstein
Concernant la datation palynologique d’objets archéologiques issus de sédiments proches
du rivage – deux exemples pour la céramique du début de la culture des Gobelets en en-
tonnoir dans l’Ostholstein
Von Jutta Meurers-Balke und Arie J. Kalis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
NoNeK – ein Aufnahmesystem für steinzeitliche Keramik Nordmitteleuropas
NoNeK – A system for recording Stone Age pottery in northern central Europe
NoNeK – Un système d’enregistrement pour la céramique néolithique du nord de
l’Europe centrale
Von Doris Mischka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
88
Early pottery in Afroeurasia – Origins and possible routes of dispersal
Frühe Keramik in Afroeurasien – Ursprung und mögliche Verbreitungswege
Céramique précoce en Afro-Eurasie – Origine et voies de diffusion possibles
By Detlef Gronenborn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Ertebølle pottery in southern Sweden – a question of handicraft, networks, and creolisa-
tion in a period of neolithisation
Ertebølle-Keramik im südlichen Schweden – Eine Frage von Handwerk, Netzwerken
und der „creolisation“ im Neolithikum
La céramique de l’Ertebølle en Suède méridionale – une question d’artisanat, de réseaux
et de métissage dans la phase de néolithisation
By Kristina Jennbert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
The early ‘Trichterbecher’ of Mälardalen, eastern Central Sweden
Die frühen „Trichterbecher“ aus Mälardalen im östlichen Zentralschweden
Les « Trichterbecher » précoces du Mälardalen, dans l’est de la Suède centrale
By Fredrik Hallgren . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
The Early Neolithic Volling site of Kildevang – its chronology and intra-spatial organi-
sation
Der frühneolithische Volling-Fundplatz von Kildevang – seine Chronologie und innere
räumliche Gliederung
Le site Volling du Néolithique précoce à Kildevang – sa chronologie et son organisation
spatiale
By Mads Ravn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
Early pottery in northern Fennoscandia
Frühe Keramik im nördlichen Fennoskandinavien
Céramique précoce en Fennoscandie septentrionale
By Marianne Skandfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
The Adoption of pottery in Mesolithic Finland – Sources of impulses, when and why?
Die Übernahme der Keramik im Mesolithikum Finnlands – Ursprungsgebiet, Zeitpunkt
und Ursachen
L’adoption de la poterie dans le Mésolithique finlandais – origines des influences, quand
et pourquoi?
By Heikki Matiskainen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
Kitchen middens and the early pottery of Denmark
Køkkenmøddinger und die frühe Keramik in Dänemark
Les déchets de cuisine et la céramique précoce du Danemark
By Søren H. Andersen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193
Hundred and fifty years of Ertebølle ceramics in the western Baltic
Einhundertfünfzig Jahre Forschungen zur Ertebølle-Keramik im westlichen Ostseeraum
Cent cinquante ans de recherches sur la céramique Ertebølle dans la région baltique
occidentale
By Erik Brinch Petersen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
99
From pointed bottom to round and flat bottom – tracking early pottery from Schleswig-
Holstein
Vom Spitzboden zum Rund- und Flachboden – auf den Spuren früher Keramik aus
Schleswig-Holstein
Du fond pointu au fond bombé et plat – Examen de la céramique précoce du Schleswig-
Holstein
By Sönke Hartz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
Neustadt LA 156: a submarine site from the Late Mesolithic-Ertebølle and earliest Neo-
lithic-Funnel Beaker in northern Germany – first results of the typological and techno-
logical analysis of the ceramics
Neustadt LA 156: Ein submariner Fundplatz der spätmesolithischen Ertebølle- und der
frühesten Trichterbecher-Kultur im nördlichen Deutschland – Erste Ergebnisse der ty-
pologischen und technologischen Keramikanalyse
Neustadt LA 156: Un site sous-marin de l’Ertebølle mésolithique tardif et du début de la
culture des Gobelets en entonnoir en Allemagne du Nord – Premiers résultats de l’analyse
typologique et technologique de la céramique
By Aikaterini Glykou . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277
Early pottery in the North – a southern perspective
Die früheste Keramik im Norden – eine südliche Perspektive
La plus ancienne céramique dans le Nord – une perspective méridionale
By Johannes Müller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287
The earliest pottery east of the Baltic Sea
Die früheste Keramik im östlichen Ostseeraum
La plus ancienne céramique dans la région balte orientale
By Henny Piezonka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301
Linear Pottery farmers and the introduction of pottery in the southern Baltic
Linienbandkeramische Bauern und die Einführung der Keramik im südlichen Ost see-
raum
Les paysans rubanés et l’introduction de la céramique dans la région balte méridionale
By Lech Czerniak and Joanna Pyzel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347
Pots and pikes at Dąbki 9, Koszalin district (Poland) – the early pottery on the Pomera-
nian coast
Töpfe und Hechte in Dąbki 9, Woj. Koszalin (Polen) – Die frühe Keramik an der Pom-
merschen Küste
Pots et brochet à Dąbki 9, Woj. Koszalin (Pologne) – La céramique précoce de la côte
poméranienne
By Jacek Kabaciński and Thomas Terberger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 361
Early pottery from the coastal site Rzucewo, Gulf of Gdańsk (Poland)
Die Frühe Keramik des Küstenfundplatzes von Rzucewo, Danziger Bucht (Polen)
La céramique précoce du site côtier de Rzucewo, baie de Gdańsk (Pologne)
By Jacek Kabaciński, Danuta Król and Thomas Terberger . . . . . . . . . . . . . 393
1010
A dialogue across the Baltic on Narva and Ertebølle pottery
Ein Dialog über die Ostsee zur Narva- und Ertebølle-Keramik
Dialogue à travers la Baltique sur la céramique de Narva et d’Ertebølle
By Baiba Dumpe, Valdis Bērziņš and Ole Stilborg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 409
The earliest pottery in the western part of the North German Plain and its inspirations
Die früheste Keramik im westlichen Teil des norddeutschen Flachlandes und ihre Vor-
bilder
La plus ancienne céramique et ses modèles dans les basses plaines occidentales de
l’Allemagne du Nord
By Leendert P. Louwe Kooijmans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 443
Swifterbant pottery in the Scheldt Basin and the emergence of the earliest indigenous
pottery in the sandy lowlands of Belgium
Swifterbant-Keramik in der Schelde-Niederung und die Entstehung der frühesten indi-
genen Keramik im Flachland Belgiens
La céramique Swifterbant du bassin de l’Escaut et la naissance de la première céramique
indigène en basse Belgique
By Philippe Crombé, Mathieu Boudin and Mark Van Strydonck . . . . . . . . . . 465
Early Swifterbant pottery (5000 4600 cal BC): Research history, age, characteristics and
the introduction of pottery
Frühe Swifterbant-Keramik (5000 4600 v. Chr.): Forschungsgeschichte, Alter, Charak-
teristik und die Einführung der Keramik
La céramique Swifterbant précoce (50004600 av. J.-C.): histoire de la recherche, âge,
caractéristiques et introduction de la céramique
By Daan C. M. Raemaekers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 485
59Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
1 H 1990; B 1992; F-A 2002;
M 2002.
2 E. g. D 1820.
3 S / S 2006.
4 R et al. 2004; G 2004.
5 H 1989.
6 F-A 2002.
Early pottery in Afroeurasia – Origins and possible routes of dispersal
By Detlef Gronenborn
Dedicated to the memory of
Vladimir Ivanovich Timofeev
Schlagwörter: Afrika – Europa – Asien – Mesolithikum – Neolithikum – Keramikgefäße –
Kulturentwicklung – Linearbandkeramik
Keywords: Africa – Europe – Asia – Mesolithic – Neolithic – ceramic vessels – development
of culture – Linear Pottery culture
Mots-clés: Afrique – Europe – Asie – Mésolithique – Néolithique – vases en céramique –
développement de culture – céramique linéaire du Rubané
Introduction
Methodologically and theoretically the approach presented in the following is influenced by
work on the spread of Iron technology and farming into South Africa: After AD 1 South Af-
rica witnesses a technological and sociocultural shift from hunter-gatherers to a combination
of hunters, pastoralists, and farmers (agro-pastoralists) who all co-existed until the advent of
Europeans at the end of the 15th century AD. This very circumstance brought one advantage
for those working in South Africa: the complex interaction between these different economies
is documented historically – by written1 and graphical sources2.
While southern Africa is currently also under discussion as a possible centre of pottery
invention3 it is furthermore of particular interest for the research historian as some aspects of
archaeological theorising have persisted continuously, aspects which had disappeared in Eu-
rope, namely the concept of migrations connected to grand scale historical trajectories: human
groups moved with their technology over long periods and long distances4. These trajectories
were baptised “streams”5 in southern African archaeology: Figure 1 shows the Bantu expan-
sion “streams” and the migrations of pastoralists (historically appearing as the Khoekhoe6).
Following the southern African methodology it seemed appealing to classify the current
pottery spectrum in western Eurasia equally into three streams which are understood to have
60 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
7 C 1977, 156. 8 B 1992, 157; M 2003, 50.
Fig. 1. Bantu and Khoekhoe expansion in southern Africa (after H 1989).
served as cultural veins for technological innovation: farming, pastoralism and pottery, all of
which compose what we call the process of neolithisation (Fig. 2).
The application of possible analogies from southern Africa is not new in northern Euro-
pean archaeology, as G. Clark – referring to Ertebølle pottery – stated in his 1936 classic “… it
is hard to think that pottery was invented separately and independently by the strand-loopers
of the Litorina coast”7. This term is clearly borrowed from Afrikaans where it refers to a par-
ticular group of Cape Town Bay groups8 which, at the arrival of the Dutch settlers, had carved
out a living through harvesting shells and hunting small game. Possibly, this group had lost its
herds and had reverted back to a simple opportunistic forager strategy. Within the socioeco-
nomic ranking of indigenous South African ethnic groups they scored lowest and soon disap-
peared as slaves and bondsmen in the European-African community of early Cape Town. But
in the literature, they survived as the most impoverished group of the region. As methodologi-
61Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
9 C 1927; Id. 1950.
10 The concept of “pottery traditions” evolved in North
American theoretical archaeology during the mid-
twentieth century and has been defined by W
(1945, 53): “A pottery tradition comprises a line, or
a number of lines, of pottery development through
time within the confines of a certain technique or dec-
orative constant. In successive time periods through
which the history of ceramic development can be
traced, certain styles arose within the tradition.”
11 S 1960, 30.
12 D 1969.
13 T 1998.
14 T / Z 1999.
15 J 1987; Id. 1998; L et al. 1989.
16 J 2000.
17 M 1974.
18 J 1994, 15 f.; B 1999; A in
press.
19  B 1997.
20 G 1999; A / K 1999, 97 f.;
P 2001; L 2005.
21 R 1999, 37 ff.
cally and theoretically problematic as Clark’s equation may be from a modern perspective, his
conclusion about the technological incentive of the inhabitants of the Litorina coast might still
be very valid. Hence, it may indeed be rewarding to test the validity of the concept of a distant
origin of the various pottery horizons in Early Neolithic Europe on a hemispherical scale.
It appears to have been G. Childe who had firstly discussed possible origins of south-
ern Scandinavian early pottery in Spain and the Crimea9. He was followed by Günter Smolla
who had suggested finds from the Russian pottery tradition10 of Zedmar as the closest resem-
blances11. Behind the Iron curtain long-distance connections of pottery traditions had been
proposed by scholars such as V. Danilenko who saw resemblances between Ukrainian and
Baltic wares12. V. Timofeev returned to these ideas and developed them further: pottery spread
from Ukraine and southeastern Russia to the Baltic coast13. But Timofeev / Zaitseva also sug-
gested an independent emergence of pottery in the southeastern Russian steppe zones because
the Elshan tradition in the Samara Valley appeared to be earlier than surrounding traditions in
western Central Asia14.
In the West another non-traditionally Neolithic, i. e. non-Danubian, tradition has emerged
in the 1980s: La Hoguette15. In this case it has been argued convincingly that the origins lie
in southern France and the western Mediterranean Early Neolithic16. This western “stream”
is furthermore composed of other pottery traditions which had been distinguished from the
Linear Pottery culture (Germ. Linienbandkeramik – LBK), namely Limburg ware17 and the
so-called ‘Accompanying Ceramics’ (Germ. Begleitkeramik)18.
Hence, Central Europe becomes the focal point of three different cultural streams which
together form what we coarsely term ‘neolithisation’ (Fig. 2). Later van Berg broadened the
perspective and contrasted the pottery traditions of Euroasian hunter-gatherers, horticultural-
ists and pastoralists with those of the Neolithic farmers19. He used the term “subnéolithique”
and set them apart from the “Neolithique céréalier”, the Danubian traditions of southern Cen-
tral Europe.
Regions of origin
While currently we begin to have a relatively robust model for the interactions between the
three different streams within temperate Europe, the question remains: is there something be-
yond these suggested regions of origin? For the Danubian the picture appears to be relatively
clear and will not be discussed here. Its source region is the Near Eastern Neolithic and the
reader is referred to the newer literature20. Equally left out are Upper Palaeolithic non-con-
tainer (animal and human figurines) forms of pottery, Rice’s “software horizon”. Of interest
for the question dealt with in this volume, are the possible origins of the sub-Neolithic wares
of western Europe, the northern Lowlands and the Baltic21.
62 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
22 Ibid, 44ff.
23 S 1993.
24 K et al. 2003.
25 R 1999, 21.
26 H 1998; R 1999.
27 H 1992, 47 ff.; Id. 2007, 172.
28 P 2005.
29 K et al. 2003.
30 P 2005, 820.
31 W 2005.
32 A / K 1999, 97 f.
33 G 2004; Id. 2006.
34 H 2007.
35 Ibid.
Rice discusses a variety of hypotheses on the origins of pottery and concludes that on
a world-wide basis no association exists between pottery manufacture and the emergence of
farming22. Early pottery containers exist “most commonly in rich, diverse, tropical / subtropical,
and riverine / coastal locations among complex (or transegalitarian, storing, accumulating) hunt-
er-gatherers.” Indeed, the current picture of container pottery origins seems to support this hy-
pothesis largely for Africa – and also the Americas23 – but not for Eurasia (Fig. 2) where pottery
had evolved in Late Pleistocene environments before the abrupt warming and cooling events
of the Late Glacial24. Also Rice’s postulate that container pottery technology would preferably
emerge among semi-sedentary foragers and collectors moving between riparian and interior en-
vironments needs to be modified25, as many of the early pottery-using societies in Afroeurasia
appear to have been sedentary and lived far inland, for instance in the central Sahara.
Referring to the theoretical apparatus of Hayden, Rice sees the socio-political role of early
container pottery as a “prestige technology” where the display effect in serving would have
been more important than any cooking and storage function26. Less political arguments have
been formulated by Haaland who draws a connection between sedentism, aquatic adaptations,
pottery for cooking, and population growth through shorter birth spacing27. According to her
study pottery serves as an amplifier of already existing socio-economic trajectories. Similarly
Pearson sees no evidence of prestige-related functions of early pottery in South China28. Also,
Keally et al. mention simple functions such as cooking and storing for early eastern Asian
wares29; moreover the earliest vessels from this region are minimally decorated – if at all. Only
with later phases do artful ornaments appear. The origins of pottery thus seem to have been
attached to more earthly functions such as improvements in food preparation or technically
more effective alternatives to already existing technologies, the classic so-called culinary hy-
pothesis30. With time and technological as well as artistic sophistication, however, pottery will
certainly have adopted more complex functions within human social and political interaction.
It is by now also quite evident, that there is no immediate correlation between domestica-
tion and container pottery. The Near East serves as the best example: while cereals had been
domesticated and used on a broader basis as from 8500 cal BC onwards31, ceramic containers,
which would have been useful for food preparation, appear only several centuries later32. Con-
trary to the Near East, pottery in various regions of Africa appeared centuries, if not millennia,
before local domestication33 and the same holds true for Asia and eastern Europe. Neverthe-
less, container pottery is still closely connected to the preparation and consumption of food
and Haaland has shown how different culinary traditions may have influenced the speed of
adoption of pottery34.
However, despite her broad comparative approach Haaland was unable to formulate a
robust and explanatory sound theoretical framework which would explain the invention and
early use of container pottery and how it became embedded in subsistence technologies and
socio-political behaviour35. It seems indeed, that up to today neither theoretical perspective
– whether functional or culture materialist in the wider sense – may provide any conclusive
solution to the questions around this marked technological breakthrough. Despite these theo-
retical uncertainties our rate of information about the Afroeurasian regions of origins for this
technology has increased considerably.
63Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
36 R 1999, 17; C 1995.
37 J 2003; M-A / K 2003; H-
 et al. 2009.
38 H et al. 2004; H et al. 2009, 910 f.
39 H 2007; Huysecom et al. 2009, 911 ff.
Africa
For Africa, Rice, following Close and others, concluded that pottery would have been in-
vented “along the southern edge of the Sahara and / or the Middle Nile valley”36. This concept
is supported by the most recent data on early pottery in Africa (Fig. 3) 37.
The presently earliest dates were recently produced from the site of Ounjougou in Mali:
Huysecom et al. were able to establish a geoarchaeological sequence based on erosion channel
deposits. The early Holocene formation (HA 1) is composed of coarse gravel and sand which
indicate massive and intensive floods. The archaeological assemblage consists of bifacially
worked arrowheads and three ceramic sherds of which one shows a decoration by uniden-
tifiable impressions. Following the sequence of 14C-dates for the formations above (HA 2 4)
HA 1 would date before 9400 cal BC38. Considering the date and the sediments Huysecom et
al. argue that pottery was in use at Ounjougou during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition
when the West African monsoon front moved northwards and drastically changed the rainfall
patterns in the hitherto desiccated environment. With these changes panicoid grasses became
widely available to the inhabitants of the region. Ceramic containers were then used to boil
these edible grasses.
It is, however, uncertain whether the pottery had been invented in the region or whether
it had moved with the environmental changes from the south 39.
The earliest certain dates in the Sahara, albeit with high standard deviations, stem from
the open-air and rockshelter site of Tagalagal in the Aïr in Niger, from Adrar Bous 10 equally
Fig. 2. “Streams” of neolithisation in western Eurasia
(modified after B et al. 2009; G 2009).
64 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
40 Ibid. Tab. 61; 226 f.
41 R 1987.
42 J 2003.
43 K / K 2006.
44 C / D L 1999; G 2000; M-
 et al. 2000.
45 S 1974.
46 G 2006.
47 Id. 1998.
48 K / K 2006.
49 G 2004; Id. 2006.
50 S 2005.
51 M-A / K 2003.
52 H 1974; M-A / K 2003; J
2003, 41.
in Niger and Sorouab 2 in the Nile Valley40. Of these sites Tagalagal has produced the earliest
measurement. Calibrated dates fall to the second half of the ninth millennium. Tagalagal is an
open air site with parts protected by a rockshelter where the charcoal samples were collected41.
The pottery is quite diverse with dotted wavy-line decoration and impressions. Forms can
be classified as closed bowls with round bottom and small rims (Plate 1). Wavy Line pottery
continues to be manufactured in the Sahara and West Africa for several millennia until the 4th
millennium when Wavy Line pottery shifts towards the West. The latest appearance of Wavy
Line pottery is attested for Senegal for the 1st millennium cal BC42. Wavy Line pottery manu-
facturers were hunter-gatherers adapted to a lacustrine environment of the early and Middle
Holocene Sahara. Continuous research in the eastern Sahara has shown that humid condi-
tions appeared rapidly around 8500 cal BC with a shift in monsoonal patterns43. The hyper-
arid environment of the Pleistocene changed to an open savannah with lakes and temporary
water-courses. Equally the Central and western Sahara shows an abrupt increase in humid
conditions between 12 000 and 8000 cal BC, the transitional period being limited to only a few
centuries44. Once Early Holocene humid conditions were established humans moved into the
previously hostile environment and formed what has been termed the African “aquatic civili-
zation”45 with its peculiar adaptation to lacustrine environments with their high biomass and
high-protein food supplies. These conditions favoured sedentism and more complex socio-
political structures46. Microlithic industries, grinding implements and bone harpoons show
that people practised a hunting-gathering-fishing economy. Under such conditions pottery
offers a clear advantage as it permits more effective food preparation as far as digestibility and
storing is concerned. Moreover, food which – because of toxins – cannot be eaten raw may be
added to the spectrum.
The fact that within the Sahara the earliest manifestations of the new way of life are lim-
ited to the Aïr and Ahaggar might indicate that these regions had become inhabitable first, as
they had attracted more rainfall than the surrounding regions47; the Nile valley had already
served as a refuge area during the hyper-arid periods48.
Just like for the Far Eastern early pottery, notably in the Russian research tradition, the
term ‘Neolithic’ has been suggested for these manifestations. However, in recent articles Gar-
cea has underlined the difficulties in applying Near Eastern conceptions of historical trajec-
tories to North Africa where the ‘Neolithic package’ has never been bundled but rather sed-
entism is associated with foraging-fishing economies and an increase in social (and perhaps
political) complexity49. Only much later do we see the emergence of a producing subsistence
strategy – not farming but pastoralism50. These problems with the western European interpre-
tation of the term ‘Neolithic’ have led to a re-acceptance of Hays’ term ‘Khartoum Horizon
Style’51 or ‘Keramikum’ with ‘Early Khartoum’ as the designation for the earliest ware52.
While container pottery apparently emerged at a relatively early stage in West Africa, the Saha-
ra and the Nile Valley, the new technology appears comparatively late along the Mediterranean
coastline. Currently it seems that this technology is not of Saharan origin, rather pottery had
spread via the Mediterranean. This becomes particularly clear from the stratigraphy from the
65Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
53 L 2004.
54 Ibid. 138.
55 Ibid. 173.
56 Ibid. 169 ff.
57 Ibid. 133.
58 M et al. 2000; F et al. 2003.
59 S 2005.
60 N 2005.
61 S / S 2006, 248.
62 K 2006a, 369.
63 K et al. 2004.
64 K 2006a.
65 N et al. 2001; K et al. 2004; K
2004.
66 H 2004.
rockshelter of Hassi Ouenzga in the Moroccan eastern Rif, recently published by Linstädter,
where the interplay between Saharan and Mediterranean influences has been recorded53. At
Hassi Ouenzga the first potty appears around 5600 cal BC54 and is influenced by the western
Mediterranean Cardium horizon but shows a considerable amount of local decoration types.
Linstädter interprets the Hassi Ouenzga data as representing a situation where a local hunter-
gatherer population has adopted externally introduced pottery technology and also animal
husbandry55. The latter were apparently introduced from the more easterly Tanger tradition.
Pottery is stylistically related to Portuguese sites which, however, date slightly later56. Never-
theless it is fairly well established that early pottery traditions in the Northwest African coastal
regions are related to the western Mediterranean. At Hassi Ouenzga Saharan influenced wares
appear only around 3500 cal BC57. These should be seen in connection with the rapid shift
in the monsoonal patterns and the subsequent rapid desiccation of the Central Sahara after
3500 cal BC58.
Summing up, container pottery emerged in inland West and North Africa independently
from other regions in Afroeurasia within sedentary or semi-sedentary forager-fisher com-
munities shortly after the onset of post-glacial climatic and environmental conditions and is
clearly disconnected to pastoralism59 or farming60 both of which appeared millennia later.
Southern Africa may represent another independent centre for pottery invention but
post-dates the North African data by several millennia. A thin-walled plain ware seems to
have been produced on the Central Plateau of South Africa a few centuries before the advent
of iron-using agro-pastoralists in the sub-continent; in absolute terms this would have been
during the last centuries of the first millennium cal BC61.
East Asia, Siberia and the southeastern Russian Steppe zones
Another independent region of early pottery emergence is northeastern continental Asia and
Japan. The exact dating of the earliest appearance of container pottery in this region had been
a matter of debate: Kuzmin has reviewed the dates available for East Asia and has concluded
that the new technology emerged towards the final stages of the last glacial, between 15 300 and
13 000 cal BC62; similar conclusions had previously been formulated by Keally et al.63. Presently
it appears that the earliest Asian – but for that matter also Afroeurasian – container pottery
emerged independently in three regions: southern China, the lower and middle Amur River
Basin in the Russian Far East, and in Japan within societies that were either fully sedentary or
semi-sedentary.
Despite generally contemporaneous dates for the earliest appearance of pottery in eastern
Asia64, dates in Japan appear to be slightly earlier than on the continent65. Pottery in Japan is
generally subsumed under the generic term “Jomon”, meaning cord-decoration. Jomon is an
archaeological “culture” which began during the Pleistocene and lasted until the first millen-
nium cal BC when it was followed by the Yayoi Period66. The manufacturers of Jomon pot-
tery were hunter-gatherers. Rice farming and iron technology was introduced to the Japanese
66 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
67 H et al. 2003.
68 K et al. 2003; K 2004; Id. 2006.
69 H 2004, 31 f.; K et al. 2004, 347 f.; K
2004.
70 K et al. 2003, 5 ff.
71 K 1982.
72 K / Y 2004.
73 K et al. 2004; K 2006a.
74 C 2002.
75 L et al. 2007.
76 Z et al. 2004.
77 J / L 2006.
78 Z et al. 2007.
79 K 2006b.
Islands during the Yayoi Period, maybe as early as 700 cal BC67. The earliest pottery on the
Japanese archipelago is subdivided into regional sequences, beginning with an Initial or Incipi-
ent Jomon and followed by an earliest Jomon phase. The preceding period is termed “Palaeo-
lithic”, the difference from Jomon being the absence of ceramic vessels. However, as there is no
clear temporal demarcation between these two entities the transition from the Palaeolithic to
Incipient Jomon is fluid and takes place between 15 000 and 12 000 cal BC68. Pottery of a plain,
undecorated style makes its appearance between 14 800 and 13 750 cal BC. The earliest appear-
ance of this ware is documented at the site of Odai Yamamoto I in northern Honshu, where
a plain ware dates to around 14 800 cal BC and is considered to demarcate a transitional stage
between the Palaeolithic and Jomon69. This phase seems to be followed by the appearance of a
linear-relief decoration and later a nail-impressed and cord-marked ware; both mark two suc-
cessive stages of Incipient Jomon with linear-relief pottery dating from 13 800 to 12 400 cal BC
and nail-impressed and cord-marked pottery dating between 11 500 and 9500 cal BC. While
vessel-forms of the transitional phase remain unidentified, Incipient Jomon vessels are of a
conical shape with a rounded bottom and slightly incurving or everting rims (Plate 2). Flat
bases do occur but are rare, some containers have fibre tempering. Vessels appear to have been
used for boiling and / or cooking but also for storing liquid as well as solid materials70. Initial
and earliest Jomon groups practiced an immediate-return hunter-gatherer subsistence strategy
with hunting and fishing. However, acorns were stored in pits on Kyushu Island as early as the
10th millennium cal BC71 and during the Middle Jomon Period (3000 2000 cal BC) chestnut and
horse chestnut stands seem to have been tended in northern Honshu72.
Early container pottery in China appears in two regions, one is located in southern China
the other one in northern China. Southern Chinese pottery appeared earlier, with the site of
Yuchanyan (layer 3E) in Hunan province dating back as far as between 14 900 and 14 050 cal BC
(BA-5058: 13680 ± 270 BP). Miaoyan (layer 4M) in Guangxi Province dates between 14 500
and 13 600 cal BC (BA-92034: 13320 ± 270 BP) and Xianrendong Cave (zone 3C1b) dates be-
tween 13 100 and 12 100 cal BC (UCR-3561: 12430 ± 80 BP)73. Xianrendong Cave provides a
stratified sequence for the appearance of pottery (Plate 3,1 – 4) and associated economic data:
Deer, boar, rabbit, and fox seem to have been consumed as well as a variety of birds74. Remains
of wild rice were found at Yuchanyan and other sites along the Middle and Lower Yangtze
River as from 13 000 cal BC and a pre-domesticated form of rice was gathered in the region
as from 8000 cal BC onwards75. Communities appear to have been sedentary at that time with
permanent buildings as at the open-air site of Shangshan. Ground and polished stone axes
and adzes are part of the material culture76, as are grinding slabs together with plain and cord-
decorated pottery77. Shangshan is the earliest open-air site with evidence of rice utilisation and
early pottery. The earliest indication of actual rice cultivation in China currently comes from
the site of Kuahuqiao, equally in the Lower Yangtze region and dates to around 5500 cal BC.
Rice was grown in slightly brackish coastal swamps but already at this early stage required
considerable preparation and clearance of this peculiar environment78.
A third, and possibly equally independent centre of pottery origin, is the Russian Far
East, a diversified environment along the Pacific coastline with rivers, the major one being the
Amur, draining towards the Northeast into the Pacific79. Here several multi-component sites
67Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
80 Id. 2002; D / M 2006.
81 K et al. 2004, 348.
82 K 2002, 39 f.
83 K et al. 2003, 11.
84 D / M 2006, 126.
85 Ibid. 127, 128, Fig. 7,4 5.
86 K 2002; K / V 2007.
87 Ibid.
88 K et al. 2004.
89 K 2006a; K / V 2007.
90 Ibid.
91 K / O 2000, 361.
in the Amur River Basin have yielded early ceramics which are subsumed under the term Osi-
povka culture80. Dates for the Osipovka ceramic tradition range from 14 000 to 9000 cal BC.
Measurements of charcoal have been supplemented by TL dates from pottery of the site of
Gasya which fall in the same range81. Osipovka pottery varies between the sites, while Gasya
and Khummi containers have flat bottoms with thick walls (up to 1.7 cm) and a grass-tempered
matrix and vertical grooves (Plate 3,5), Goncharka ceramics are decorated with cord and comb
impressions and lighter in make without organic tempering82. Containers may have been used
for cooking but also for extracting fish oils83. The lithic industry is based on a blade technol-
ogy but also on bifaces with points categorised as arrow-heads but also dart heads84, heavier
tools are chipped adze-like implements and at Gasya a part of a rectangular ground adze with
a slightly convex working edge was discovered in situ 85.
Another complex of sites is that of Ust’ Karenga in the Transbaikal in eastern Siberia86.
The sites are located along the lower Karenga River at its confluence with the Vitim which
in turn empties into the Lena River, the Lena then draining into the Arctic Ocean. The sites
are at 600 m a.s.l. Mountain tops in the region reach up to 1700 m a.s.l. The climate in eastern
Siberia is continental with hot summers and severely cold winters and thus different from that
of the Russian Far East. The sites have been subdivided into several cultural layers of which
layer 7 contains the earliest pottery. Vessels have pointed bottoms, straight walls and straight
to slightly incurving rims (Plate 3,6 – 10). They are decorated with comb, zigzag, and chevron
motives, the clay is plant-fibre tempered. The lithic industry is blade-based, local river pebbles
were used. Radiocarbon measurements from layer 7 of the Ust’ Karenga complex range from
12 200 to 10 200 cal BC. However, it is not impossible that older ceramics may eventually be
discovered in earlier layers of the Ust’ Karenga complex87.
According to palaeobotanical reconstructions of the environment of the Ust’ Karenga
layer 7 period a cold grass steppe dominated; it interchanged with pine-larch forests, com-
posed also of dwarf birch, apparently the typical vegetation for the transition from the Late
Pleistocene to the Early Holocene in eastern Siberia88.
Ust’ Karenga layer 7 has produced the earliest ceramics in eastern Siberia. Their relation-
ship to the east Asian ceramics is only of a very general nature in that organic tempering is
equally documented from the Osipovka Complex and from Incipient Jomon where pointed
bases also exist. However, these similarities do not allow any far-reaching conclusions about
possible contacts between these distant regions and thus, at least for now, no hypothesis about
a common ancestor or a core region from where the technology could have spread to the other
regions in eastern Asia may be phrased. Currently, Siberia, the Russian Far East, Japan and
China are all seen as independent centres of origins for container ceramics89.
The question is, however, whether these wares influenced those of western Siberia and
possibly also the eastern Russian steppe zones in Europe. Unfortunately, the data set available
is not too satisfactory and the possibility of contacts from eastern Siberia towards the West
need to be investigated further: Kuzmin / Veterov mention the Sumpanya-type pottery from
western Siberian Ob Basin90 – 3000 km west of the Karenga-Vitim confluence – where a series
of sites was excavated during the 1960s and which hitherto has been considered as a local and
independent invention91. While a number of 14C dates fall into the sixth millennium cal BC,
68 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
92 K / V 2007.
93 M 2000; V 2008.
94 Ibid.
95 K / O 2000.
96 T /Z 1999, 190.
97 T 1998; P 2008; S 2005;
2008; K 2000; H 2000; Id. 2008; D -
  2005; G in press; C et al.
2008; R 2008.
98 D 1995; K 2006a; P
2006, 41.
99 E. g. R et al. 2004; G 2007;
Z et al. in press.
100 G 2003.
older dates reach as far back as the 10th and 11th millennium cal BC, yet these are considered
problematic92; Sumpanya-type remains uncertain as far as dating and stylistic associations are
concerned.
The earliest pottery in Europe so far appears to be that of the Elshan tradition in the wider
Samara valley from between 7200 and 6800 cal BC, based on dates taken from river mussel
shells93. The sites are shallow campsites along rivers with an economy based on hunting and
fishing. Remarkable are the pointed base vessels with everted rims. Flat bases are also present,
decorations are incisions, punctuations outside or inside the vessel rims and motifs are rhom-
boids, triangles or chevrons94 (plate 4). The lithic industry is characterised by so-called Epi-
Swidry points; trapezes and segments appear only during the evolved Elshan tradition which
would underline the dating of the earlier phases to the Late Boreal. Elshan marks the earliest
pottery in Europe and currently is without any immediate regional predecessors95; it has been
considered as an independent innovation96.
“Streams” of neolithisation
Pottery, always in a hunter-gatherer context, appears to have spread from the Russian steppe
zone towards the Northwest into the forest zone and further into the Baltic as far as into
northern Fennoscandia and ultimately to the western Baltic, the Netherlands and the Belgian
lowlands where early Ertebølle and Swifterbant pottery appear around 5000 cal BC or slightly
earlier97. It thus forms an independent ‘Neolithic’ tradition across eastern Europe which is not
connected to farming but to technological innovations such as pottery and ground stone and
emerging socio-political complexity. This conservative definition of the term ‘Neolithic’ has
prevailed in the Russian archaeological tradition98 and differs from the definition favoured in
the West where economic aspects have been highlighted.
Stylistic and technological similarities of these hunter-gatherer pottery traditions of east-
ern Europe may permit us to subsume these under the overlying concept of a “stream”, much
in the way as it has been conceived for southern Africa (Fig. 1). In a similar way the ‘classic’
Neolithic of the southeastern European and ultimately Near Eastern tradition may be con-
ceived as another ‘stream’, and lastly the western passage of Neolithic technologies such as
pottery and pastoralism in southern France and the Iberian peninsula can be subsumed as a
third ‘stream’. However, unlike the situation in southern Africa, it is yet unclear how these
streams came into existence. Actual movement of larger groups across long distances, as with
the Bantu migrations across Africa, have for al long time been viewed as unlikely for Europe99.
It seemed more probable that the Eurasian streams were formed by cultural borrowing and
only to a much lesser and still not fully understood degree by actual migrations. However,
recent archaeogenetic studies e. g. by Haak et al. (2010) indicate more considerable migra-
tion movements in the course of the erarly neolithisation process. In any case, these streams,
which do have conceptional similarities with the currently still infamous ‘Kulturkreise’, have
been termed “Hyperborean”, “Danubian” and “Occidental”100, the latter two have also been
69Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
Fig. 3. Regions of origin for early container pottery in Afroeurasia (af-
ter H 2007, 172 Fig. 2; A / K 1999, 98 Fig. 14;
K / O 2000, 357 Fig. 1; K 2006, 363 Fig. 1).
Climate proxy: GRIP/NGRIP *18O-curve after Greenland Ice Core Chronol-
ogy 2005 (S. O. Rasmussen; K. K. Andersen; A. M. Svensson; J. P. Steffensen;
B. M. Vinther; H. B. Clausen; M.-L. Siggaard-Andersen; S. J. Johnsen; L. B.
Larsen; D. Dahl-Jensen; M. Bigler; R. Röthlisberger; H. Fischer; K. Goto-
Azuma; M. E. Hansson; U. Ruth, A new Greenland ice core chronology for the
last glacial termination. Journal of Geophysical Research 111, 2006, D06102,
doi:10.1029/2005JD006079.)
70 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
101 J /  W in press.
102 E. g. B 1938.
103 L 1997.
104 G 1990; Id. 1997.
105 L et al. 1989; K 1997; E 2003.
106 M 1997.
107 G 1997.
108 See C et al. 2008; R 2008.
109 C / S 2003, 499; S / G-
 2005.
110 L 2005, 68 ff.
111 L et al. 1989; J / V W 2010.
112 A 1995.
113 J / V W in press.
termed the “Danubian” and “Mediterranean sphere” by Jeunesse / van Willigen, indicating a
more static concept without directional dynamics101.
Each of these streams appear to have their origins in regions outside of Europe: the Danu-
bian ultimately going back to the Near Eastern core zone of the agricultural Neolithic, the
occidental stream has its origins in the western Mediterranean, possibly with an African com-
ponent, and the hyperborean stream has its origins in the Russian steppe zone and possibly
further east in Siberia and Northeast Asia. This is indicated by the data presented in Bramanti
et al. (2009) and Haak et. al (2010). The Danubian and Occidental stream may also have been
constituted largely by immigrants, a process which may have started already during the sev-
enth millenium cal BC (Gronenborn 2007; in press).
These three grand streams of neolithisation merge in western Central Europe, a region
which has for long been recognised as a ‘melting pot’ of different European Early Neolithic
traditions102. Occasionally these three traditions are manifested in the archaeological material
of one single site, this is the case for instance at the site of Bruchenbrücken, an earliest Linear
Pottery site in the Wetterau region north of Frankfurt a. M.103 where western, eastern and clas-
sic Danubian elements have been preserved in the archaeological record: the lithic industry
has technological affiliations to the Late Mesolithic of eastern Central Europe but equally
to the Late Mesolithic of western Europe104. Raw materials come from the Maas Valley, but
also from the northern erratic sources, microlithic points have eastern, western, and northern
stylistic affiliations (Fig. 4). The pottery is typical for earliest Linear Pottery. Fragments of La
Hoguette ware indicate that people who manufactured this occidental tradition style lived on
the site105. A microlith typical for Southwest Germany and adjacent regions and associated
to La Hoguette, a pointe de Bavans106, was found at the nearby earliest Linear Pottery site of
Goddelau in the Upper Rhine Valley107. The situation in the Netherlands and in the Belgian
lowlands is similar: here, too, the traditions mixed and the pottery shows stylistic influences
from both the Occidental as well as the Hyperborean stream108.
Dating fault lines
While the evidence from the site itself seems well integrated, problems arise when regarded
in a broad context. According to varying age models Bruchenbrücken would date between
before 5400 and around 5300 cal BC109 or 5320 and 5140 cal BC110. According to the age-model
favoured by Strien and Gronenborn, House 2 with the characteristic microliths reflecting the
distant connections should date around 5400 cal BC. All chronologies, regardless of whether
“long” or “short” would arrange the site – together with the La Hoguette pottery – contem-
poraneous to or slightly after the current estimations for the beginning of the southern French
Cardial, with which La Hoguette pottery does share stylistic similarities111. While the age
model for the advent of La Hoguette pottery, and likely also the pastoral economy of occiden-
tal tradition, is relatively robust for western Central Europe – with a possible early beginning
at Bavans rockshelter around 5600 cal BC112 – its chronological and thus culture historical ties
to southern France are much less well understood113. The earliest Neolithic along the western
71Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
114 Z 2001; M / S 2003;  W-
 2004; 2006.
115 See L 2004, 156 ff.; M et al. 2007,
143 f.
116 M et al. 2007.
117 Ibid. 148.
118 L 2004, 133 ff., 136.
119 Ibid. 136, 169 f.
120 K / O 2000.
121 K / V 2007.
122 E. g. H 2000; K 2000; G
2003; 2009; Jordan / Zvelebil 2009..
123 C in press.
124 E. g. P 2006.
Mediterranean coastlines is currently considered to be the Impressa wares and according to
newer studies of other southern French colleagues the Cardial and Épicardial should not have
made their appearance before 5400 cal BC114. This would mean that the stylistic innovations
leading to La Hoguette pottery would have reached western Central Europe before Cardial
emerged in southern France – an impossible scenario.
Of a more general nature are the uncertainties with regard to an African contribution to
the Early Neolithic societies of the western Mediterranean. While continuously discussed in
the literature over many decades115, actual archaeological evidence of such interactions during
the time of the advent of the Neolithic is still sparse. Recently, however, Manen et al. were able
to work out a contact-horizon in the early southern Iberian Neolithic which is characterised
by innovations of a possible Northwest African origin: ceramics with rounded bases (“formes
‘en sac’”), impression decoration techniques, the use of red colourant and pressure technique
in lithics and microlithic segments116. These innovations, possibly originating from Morocco,
would have arrived on the Iberian peninsula after 5500 cal BC – before or contemporaneous
with the Cardial tradition117. A similar situation of co-existance has recently been suggested
for the occupation of the site of Hassi Ouenzga, where the ceramics of the Oran tradition,
characterised by incised lines, and Cardial-influenced ware of the local Hassi Ouenzga tradi-
tion occur contemporaneously from maybe as early as 5600 cal BC onwards, certainly from
5400 cal BC onwards118. It is interesting to note, that at Hassi Ouenzga Cardium or Cardium-
like decorations pre-date their presumed appearance on the European continent by more than
a century or are at least contemporaneous119. The situation in western Europe is thus confus-
ing: Cardial-related ware appears to be older at the northern and southern margins of the
style horizon than in the centre, or at least contemporaneous. This contradiction is one of the
important problems in European Early Neolithic research which needs to be solved in the
nearer future.
When turning to eastern Europe, another dating fault line becomes apparent. With its
early age measurements the Elshan tradition antedates any other ceramic tradition in the wider
region, also those from immediately beyond the Ural mountain chain120. This, again, makes the
reconstruction of pan-regional communication and contacts quite difficult. And indeed, con-
cerns have been phrased about a broad-scale integration of eastern European pottery traditions
into a grand westward stream121. Also, while a number of authors follow the idea of a general
southeastern influence on Baltic Sea and northwestern European lowland pottery traditions122
others are still reluctant in accepting the idea of a “hyperborean” stream because of local and
regional stylistic dissimilarities and dating uncertainties123. Moreover, some authors still adhere
to Mid-Holocene dates for early pottery in eastern Eurasia124. Taking these disagreements into
account, it is of absolute necessity to refine chronological schemes also for eastern Europe and
further beyond for Siberia by providing new AMS dates as a basis for understanding the nature
of possible far-reaching networks during the earlier to Mid Holocene.
While, admittedly, not all problems in reconstructing the proposed streams have been solved
on every possible level of resolution, a general tendency of geographical and chronological
trajectories across western Eurasia is visible in the present archaeological and archaeogenetic
72 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
125 B et al. 2009.
126 H et al. 2005; 2010.
data. These pan-regional contacts between the Atlantic and the Ural followed contact net-
works established many millennia before the advent of the Neolithic. The recently presented
mtDNA-data by Bramanti et al. (Fig. 2) shows that the European northern lowlands must have
been populated by a genetically different population – characterized by the predominance
of haplotype U – at the period of the neolithisation of western Eurasia125. Apparently this
population had also lived in southern Central Europe during the Late Pleistocene and earlier
Holocene and it seems to have been largely replaced by incoming groups – characterized by
mtDNA haplotypes K, T, J, V, H, HV, N1a – in the course of the neolithisation126. Possibly,
this replacement began with the Late Mesolithic during the seventh millennium cal BC, when
considerable changes can be observed in the material record across western Eurasia; this re-
placement process continued for several millennia127. Western Europe, the Occidental stream,
Fig. 4. Bruchenbrücken, Wetteraukreis. Stylistic, technological and economic influences
(modified after G 2005).
127 G in press.
73Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
128 G 2007.
129 T et al. 1998; S et al. 2000; R-
 / M 2000; R et al. 2002;
K / U 2002; R 2003; S
2003; A et al. 2004; S et al. 2004; Z-
 et al in press.
130 R et al. 2007; D et al. 2007.
– today the Benelux, France, and the Iberian Peninsula – may have had a genetically composed
population. Clearly, contacts and exchanges similar to that of the Danubian stream (Haak et al.
2010) were much more intense in the West, between the Rhine and the Seine, beginning with
Bruchenbrücken and Goddelau128.
As far as the YDNA evidence is concerned, the streams of neolithisation are still faintly
preserved in the present-day distribution (Fig. 5). Haplotypes R1a and R1b are seen as the
genetic signature of the western and eastern repopulation of Temperate Europe after the Late
Glacial Maximum129, but it may be particularly the distribution of YDNA haplotype N (Fig. 5)
which may be linked to the contacts and migrations established in the course of the spread of
pottery through the Hyperborean stream130. Just as the distribution of YDNA and mtDNA
across modern western Eurasia has to be understood as a palimpsest of migrations and small-
scale movements, the three streams of neolithisation have to be seen as grand-scale low-resolu-
tion trajectories which in detail and over time were formed by countless inter-group contacts,
smaller group movements and only very occasionally by actual long-distance migrations.
Fig. 5. “Streams” of Neolithization in western Eurasia
(modified after MD 2005; G 2009).
74 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
In conclusion, it may be postulated that the process of neolithisation in northwestern Afroeur-
asia is a reflection of population movements and contact networks going back to the initial
colonisation of Europe by modern humans and the re-population after the Glacial Maximum.
The networks thus established served as cultural conveyor belts, also for the spread of early
pottery traditions.
75Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
12
3
4
10
5
11
6
12
789
Plate 1. 1 3 Reconstructed Wavy-Line ceramics from Tagalagal, Niger (from R 1987, 221 Fig. 11,3);
4 12 ceramic fragments from Hassi Ouenzga, Morokko, Hassi Ouenzga Group I (from L
2004, 130 Fig. 60).
76 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
1234
10
5
11
6
12
7
89
16 17 18
13
14
15
19
20 21 22
Plate 2. Initial or Incipient Jomon Pottery in Japan. 1 5 earliest plain ware; 6 13 linear relief decorated
ware; 14 22 punctate marked, nail-impressed and cord-marked ware (from K 2003, 4 Fig. 1).
77Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
1
2
3
5
9
5
10
4
6
7
8
Plate 3. 1 4 Stripe-marked, plain-marked and cord-marked pottery from Xianrendong, China (from
C 2002, 32 33 Fig. 6 9); 5 Osipovka ceramics from the site of Gasya, Primorye, Russian Far East; 6 10
vessels from Ust’-Karenga, Siberia, Russia (from K 2002).
78 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
1
2
34
56
Plate 4. Ceramics from the Elshan culture, Samara Valley, Russia, various sites
(from M 2000, 164 Fig. 2).
79Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
Zusammenfassung · Abstract · Résumé
 Written from a Central European perspective, this chapter will present a coarse
overview of recent developments in studies on early container pottery emergence in Afroeur-
asia. In order to understand the wider implications of the technological innovation and its
spread to Europe, it is necessary to take a broad view and to investigate the current status of
knowledge for the various centres of origin for pottery. It appears that early container pot-
tery emerged independently in two broad zones, eastern Asia and West- and northern Africa,
towards the end of the Pleistocene and during the earlier Holocene. Such container pottery
was manufactured by small bands of sedentary or semi-sedentary hunter-gatherer-fishers. The
new technology spread from these centres, but it is at present unclear whether pottery reached
Europe from these distant source areas, as chronological and spatial gaps rupture the proposed
routes of diffusion. A third centre of origin is the northern “Fertile Crescent”, where container
pottery emerges in the course of the 6th millennium cal BC among farming societies, possibly
independently of the other regions. The spread of pottery into Europe itself appears to follow
long-term communication routes across western Afroeurasia which are also reflected in the
three different neolithisation streams.
 Aus einer europäischen Perspektive geschrieben, bietet der Beitrag
einen Überblick über jüngere Entwicklungen in den Studien zur Entstehung von Gefäßkera-
mik in Afroeurasien. Um die weiteren Konsequenzen dieser technologischen Innovation und
ihrer Ausbreitung nach Europa zu verstehen ist es notwendig, ein breites Blickfeld zu eröffnen
und den gegenwärtigen Stand der Erkenntnis zu den jeweiligen entfernten Entstehungszen-
tren mit einzubeziehen. Derzeit scheint es, dass Gefäßkeramik unabhängig voneinander in
zwei Großregionen entstanden ist, einmal im östlichen Asien, dann aber auch im westlichen
und nördlichen Afrika. Dies geschah gegen Ende der Eiszeit und mit Beginn der Wiederer-
wärmung. Gefäßkeramik wurde von sesshaften oder halbsesshaften Sammler-Jägern und Fi-
schern hergestellt. Diese neue Technologie breitete sich von diesen Zentren aus, aber es ist
derzeit unklar, ob auch nach Europa direkt Keramik aus diesen weit entfernten Kerngebieten
gelangt ist, da sowohl räumliche wie auch chronologische Lücken in den Ausbreitungsrich-
tungen bestehen. Ein drittes Zentrum der Keramikentstehung ist der nördliche „Fruchtbare
Halbmond“, wo Gefäßkeramik während des 6. Jahrtausends cal BC von bäuerlichen Gemein-
schaften entwickelt wird. Die Ausbreitung von Keramik nach Europa folgt langfristig existie-
renden Kommunikationsrouten über das westliche Afroeurasien und sie wird auch in den drei
Neolithisierungsströmungen reflektiert.
 Cet article, rédigé dans une perspective européenne, présente un aperçu des der-
niers acquis réalisés dans la recherche sur l’origine de la céramique en Afro-Eurasie. En vue de
mieux saisir les retombées de cette innovation technologique et de sa diffusion vers l’Europe,
il faut élargir l’horizon et prendre en compte l’état actuel de la recherche sur les épicentres
respectifs, fort éloignés. Il semble en ce moment que la poterie se soit développée dans deux
grandes régions indépendantes : en Asie orientale et en Afrique de l’Ouest et du Nord. Cette
innovation eut lieu vers la fin de la dernière glaciation et au début du réchauffement. La pre-
mière poterie fut fabriquée par des chasseurs-cueilleurs et pêcheurs sédentaires ou semi-séden-
80 Early Pottery in the Baltic – Dating, Origin and Social Context
taires. Cette nouvelle technologie se répandit alors à partir de ces centres, mais, vu les lacunes
spatiales et chronologiques constatées sur les axes de pénétration, l’incertitude subsiste quant à
une diffusion directe vers l’Europe. Un troisième épicentre correspond au nord du « Croissant
fertile », où des communautés paysannes ont développé une poterie au 6e millénaire cal BC.
La diffusion de la céramique vers l’Europe suit des voies de communication établies de longue
date à travers l’Afro-Eurasie occidentale et se reflète dans les trois courants de néolithisation.
Acknowledgements
I am indebted to a number of colleagues for providing me with unpublished or distantly
published information on the various regions dealt with in this article: J. Habu, Berkeley –
E. Garcea, Cassino – R. Haaland, Bergen – K. Sadr, Johannesburg – Y. V. Kuzmin, Vladivostok
– Ch. T. Keally, Tokyo – G. Marchand, Rennes – Y. Kudo, Nagoya and W. Haak, Adelaide.
Lastly I am certainly also indebted to S. Hartz, Schleswig – Th. Terberger, Greifswald – F. Lüth
and K. Rassmann, Frankfurt a. M., for patiently waiting until I completed this manuscript.
81Detlef Gronenborn · Early pottery in Afroeurasia
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RGZM-Tagungen.
  • ... Undoubtedly, some heuristic models can be used as working hypotheses (e.g. Gronenborn 2009Gronenborn , 2011), but rigorous analysis is required to turn them into solid evidence. Clearly, much work is still needed to understand the patterns of pottery distribution in northern Eurasia. ...
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  • ... Two general scenarios are possible: a) pottery was invented independently in various places; b) pottery production spread from regions where pottery was already known to areas where previously no pottery had been produced. We do not regard the dispersal of pottery innovation as the only possible scenario behind the appearance of the technology in new regions, and we are aware that ceramic containers have been invented in several parts of the world independently (Gronenborn 2011 ). However, we also consider a dispersal of the new technology over smaller and also larger distances possible. ...
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