Hunter-gatherer cuisine: recent advances in chemical and isotopic analysis of early pottery

Start: Mar 10, 2014 04:00 PM

Location: Room 612, Institute of Archaeology

Jomon pottery

Oliver Craig (University of York) will give the eighth seminar in the Term II Institute Research Seminar series on Isotopes in Archaeology on 10 March.


The emergence of pottery is one of the oldest problems in World Archaeology, and scholars have traditionally tended to link its invention to the rise of farming economies and settled village life. It is now clear that the oldest pottery extends much further back in time; ceramic vessels appeared among East Asian hunting and gathering societies around 20,000 years ago, and were independently invented by other Holocene forager groups, well before the arrival of farming. The reasons for the innovation and wide-spread uptake of pottery by a broad range of hunter-gatherers are far from clear and very little is known about the function of early pottery. Here I will show how the latest methods of organic residue analysis can be used to explore its culinary role, choosing case studies from the Northern Europe (Ertebølle), North America (Vinette I) and North-eastern Asia (Jōmon). From the results of these analyses, I will emphasise the social significance of pottery to small-scale mobile foragers, partially linked to its use as an adaptive technology to deal with the seasonal glut of specific foods.

The seminar will take place at 4pm in Room 612 at the Institute and will be followed by a reception in the Staff Common Room (Room 609).

All welcome!

Any enquiries about the seminar series may be directed to Ian Freestone.

Institute Research Seminar Programme | Isotopes in Archaeology