Rediscovering Paleolithic art: overlooked ceramic figurines from the Pavlovian

Rebecca A. Farbstein , William Davies


10.5817/CZ.MUNI.M210-7781-2015-24

FARBSTEIN, A. Rebecca and DAVIES, William. Rediscovering Paleolithic art: overlooked ceramic figurines from the Pavlovian. In: Sandra SÁZELOVÁ, Martin NOVÁK and Alena MIZEROVÁ (eds.). Forgotten times and spaces: New perspectives in paleoanthropological, paleoetnological and archeological studies. 1st Edition. Brno: Institute of Archeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences; Masaryk University, 2015, pp. 328-339. ISBN 978-80-7524-000-2; 978-80-210-7781-2. DOI: 10.5817/CZ.MUNI.M210-7781-2015-24.


Abstract

This paper presents the first results from a new research project that focuses on the emergence of ceramic technologies across Paleolithic Europe. Pavlovian ceramics from Moravia provide the earliest known evidence of these technologies, with one of the largest assemblages from the site of Pavlov I. This paper presents new analyses of both the figurative art and the broader assemblage of worked “pellets,” shedding new light on the range of technologies employed when working with this innovative material. Using both macro- and microscopic analyses, we identified four distinct chaînes opératoires across the figurative and non-figurative ceramics that were excavated from Pavlov I in the 1950s— 1960s, demonstrating a more diverse range of manufacturing sequences than scholars previously purported. In particular, analyzing the “pellets” demonstrates that studying the figurative sculptures in isolation may lead to biased interpretations of the importance of some techniques, such as engraving.

Keywords

Ceramic technologies, mobile art, chaîne opératoire, Gravettian, Czech Republic

Résumé

Le présent article expose les premiers résultats d’un nouveau projet de recherche consacré à l’émergence des technologies de la terre cuite à travers l’Europe paléolithique. Les terres cuites du Pavlovien morave représentent à ce jour les plus anciennes manifestations des technologies de la terre cuite ; l’une des collections les plus importantes provenant du site de Pavlov I. De nouvelles analyses, effectuées à la fois sur l’art figuratif et sur la collection plus large des « pellets » de terres cuites travaillées, nous ont permis de mettre en lumière une gamme de technologies distinctes liées au travail de ce matériau innovateur. Sur base d’une approche combinant analyses macro- et microscopique, nous sommes parvenus à identifier quatre chaînes opératoires distinctes parmi les terres cuites figuratives et non figuratives mises au jour sur le site de Pavlov I dans les années 1950–1960. Il en ressort que les savoir-faire techniques associés à la fabrication des terres cuites s’avèrent être plus diversifiés que ce qui a été communément admis jusqu’ici. En particulier, l’analyse des « pellets » tend à démontrer que l’étude isolée des seules oeuvres figuratives peut biaiser l’interprétation quant à l’importance de certaines techniques, telles que la gravure.

Zusammenfassung

In diesem Aufsatz werden erste Ergebnisse eines neuen Forschungsprojekts vorgestellt, das dem Auftreten von Keramik-Technologien im paläolithischen Europa gewidmet ist. Die gebrannten Tonartefakte des Pavlovien stellen die bislang frühesten Nachweise dieser Technologien dar, wobei eines der umfangreichsten Inventare am Fundplatz Pavlov I zutage gefördert wurde. Basierend auf neuen Untersuchungen der figurativen Kunst sowie des umfangreichen Inventars bearbeiteter „Pellets“ rücken wir die der Bearbeitung dieses innovativen Rohmaterials zugrunde liegenden Technologien in ein neues Licht. Durch die Kombination von makro- und mikroskopischen Analysen ist es uns gelungen, unter den in den 1950er und 1960er Jahren geborgenen figurativen und nicht figurativen gebrannten Tonartefakten insgesamt vier unterschiedliche chaînes opératoires zu rekonstruieren. Damit wurde eine größere Vielfalt der Herstellungsverfahren belegt als bislang angenommen. Die Analyse der „Pellets“ hat insbesondere gezeigt, dass die alleinige Untersuchung von figurativer Kunst zu verzerrten Interpretationen hinsichtlich des Stellenwerts gewisser Techniken, darunter der Gravur, führen kann.

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