Silvia Amicone

Pottery Technology at the Dawn of the Metal Age: a View from Vinča Culture

The Serbian Neolithic/Chalcolithic sites of Belovode and Pločnik (c. 5400-4600 BC) have yielded hundreds of thousands of pottery sherds, along with some of the earliest known evidence of copper smelting. The rich material culture of this site therefore holds significant potential for the study of Vinča pottery craft technology during the transition into the Metal Age. This research focuses on the development of pottery production technology leading up to and following the emergence of copper metallurgy at these important sites (c. 5400 – 4600 BC).

Pottery production has often been suggested as a technical precursor to the discovery of metallurgy. In particular, the rise of metallurgy in the Balkans coincided with the appearance of black burnished ware and graphite painted pottery. This phenomenon gave start to a long debate on the possible connection between these two technologies.

This research covers the full spectrum of the Vinča culture pottery from the sites of Belovode and Pločnik using thin section petrography, WD-XRF, XRPD and SEM in order to characterise the raw materials and processes employed in ceramic production at these sites. Particular emphasis is placed on pyrotechnological aspects behind the Black Burnished Graphite Painted Ware, which may have been a precursor to metal smelting pyrotechnology.

With this study, we expect to produce not only a reference study on pottery technology in Vinča culture, but most importantly to trace technological choices and phenomena of transmission at these two important sites. This hopefully will contribute to the current discussion about a pyrotechnological link between pottery production and metallurgy. 

Funding organisation

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Project:

    "The rise of metallurgy in Eurasia: Evolution, organisation and consumption of early metal in the Balkans."

  • Funds for Women Graduates


Research Directory Records

Educational background

  • MSc, Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 2011 
  • MA, Archaeology , Università degli studi di Milano, 2009
  • BA, Classics, Università degli Studi di Milano, 2006

Amicone S. (forthcoming), Rediscovering the “Fattoria Officina” of Manfria (Gela). Towards a new chronological and functional interpretation of the site. Accordia Research Papers.

Amicone, S. and Lown, O. J. (in press) Review of the Accordia Lectures 2014–2015. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, X(X): X, pp. 1–10.

Amicone S. and Quinn P.S. 2015. Verulamium Region White Ware Production at the Roman Kiln Site of Brockley Hill, Middlesex: A Compositional and Technological Reassessment. Journal of Roman Pottery Studies 16, 1-19.

Croce E., Amicone S., Castellano L., Vezzoli G. 2015. Analisi di una tecnica edilizia in terra cruda nell'insediamento etrusco-padano del Forcello di Bagnalo San Vito (MN). Notizie Archeologiche Bergomensi 22, 137–160.

Amicone S. 2015. Fourth Century BC Black Glaze from Iasos: a Technological Approach. In Gürtekin-Demir – Cevizoğlu – Polat – Polat, Keramos. Ceramics: A Cultural Approach, Ankara, 25–39.

Amicone S., Fenn N., Heinze L., Schneider G. 2014. Cooking Pottery in Priene: Imports and Local Productions from Late Classical to Late Hellenistic times. Frankfurter elektronische Rundschau zur Altertumskunde 25, 1–26.

Amicone S. 2014. Uno studio composizionale e tecnologico dei pithoi di Jazzo Fornasiello: risultati preliminari. In Castoldi M., Iazzo Fornasiello (Gravina in Puglia ) dati preliminari, Bari, 125–131.

Mailland I., Peroschi M. E., Amicone S., Mailland F. and Anati E. 2009. A pre-pottery Neolithic B site at Har Karkom (Negev Israel) report on the HK/361 site. Bollettino del Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici 35, 51–72.

Selected talks and posters

Participation at EMAC 2015 (European Meeting of Ancient Ceramic) in Athens. Title of the presentation: Pottery Making Recipes at the Dawn of the Metal Age: Continuity and Change in Pottery Traditions at Belovode and Pločnik (co-authors: Patrick Quinn, Miljana Radivojević, Christoph Berthold, Thilo Rehren)

Participation at the 80th Annual Meeting of the Society For American Archeology (SAA) in S. Francisco. Title of the paper: On the transmission of pottery recipes at the dawn of the Metal Age: a case study from Pločnik and Belovode (co-authors: Patrick Quinn, Miljana Radivojević, Cristoph Berthold, Thilo Rehren)

Università degli studi di Milano, invited lecture: Per un approccio interdisciplinare allo studio della ceramica da fuoco: il caso di Priene dal periodo tardo classico all' Ellenismo.

Participation at EAA (European Archaeological Meeting) in Istanbul. Title of the papers: Standardization in Vinča Culture Pottery Production at the Dawn of the Metal Age:

Participation at ISA 2014 (International Symposium on Archaeometry) in Los Angeles. Title of the paper: Technological Development in Vinča Culture Pottery at the Dawn of the Metal Age (co-authors: Patrick Quinn, Miljana Radivojević, Thilo Rehren)

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Magistranden-Doktoranden-Kolloquium Silvia Amicone MA (University College London) – Svenja Neumann M.A. (Bonn) – Lars Heinze M. A. (Frankfurt) 400 Jahre Kochkeramik in Priene: Vorläufige Ergebnisse der archäologischen und archäometrischen Untersuchungen.

Università degli studi di Milano, invited lecture: Ceramica tra archeologia e archeometria: uno studio tecnologico per ricostruire il passato.

Participation at the EMAC 2013 (European Meeting of Ancient Ceramic) in Padova. Title of the posters: Technological Choices in Vinča Culture Pottery at the Dawn of Metal Age (co-authors: Patrick Quinn, Miljana Radivojević)

Museum of London, SGRP Conference. Title of the paper: Never change a running system? – A technological approach to the Verulamium Region White ware production in Brockley Hill.

Università degli studi di Milano, invited lecture: Tecniche speciali nella ceramica attica: il caso della Coral Red.

Co-organiser of the International Workshop "Tracing pottery making recipes in the Balkans, 6th – 4th millennium BC"

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