National Plan. 2010 - 2012

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National Plan. 2010 - 2012
Prehistoric pottery styles in Galicia (NW Spain): techniques, raw materials and circulation.
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  • Project Description

    Project title

    Prehistoric pottery styles in Galicia (NW Spain): techniques, raw materials and circulation.


    HAR2010-17637. National Plan. 2010-2012.


    Ministry of Science and Innovation, National R&D&I plan 2008-2011, Sub-programme for Basic Research Projects. Spanish Government.

    Research group

    Sincrisis. Department of History I. University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

    Head researcher

    M. Pilar Prieto Martínez


    M. Pilar Prieto Martínez

    Oscar F. Lantes Suárez

    Jöeri Kaal


    Heritage, Paleoenvironment and Landscape Laboratory and Department of History I (USC)

    Archaeometry unit (USC)

    Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry. (USC)

    Spanish National Research Council - Padre Sarmiento Institute of Galician Studies (Santiago de Compostela)

    La Graña Marine Biology Station, Ferrol. USC


    Based on the idea that pottery is a good indicator of changes in past societies, the current project aims to: (1) contribute to our knowledge of prehistoric Galician pottery, especially in terms of style, technology and the chaîne opératoire of manufacturing procedures and (2) confirm previous hypotheses on the relation between pottery characteristics and their chrono-cultural and spatial contexts. Another important goal of the project is to elucidate the mechanisms of circulation that evolved in the NW of the Iberian Peninsula during various time periods beyond this territory.

    This project is the continuation of a line of research funded as a part of the INCITE R&D&I program of the regional government of Galicia (Xunta, 2007-9), during which 423 potsherds were analysed, ranging from the Mid-Neolithic to contemporary times, 289 of which were prehistoric. It is necessary to widen the number of samples to validate and extend the results of this project by applying modern analytical techniques.

    In order to meet these objectives, the present project proposes two research lines: (1) a general characterisation of the new set of ceramics samples and (2) to apply modern analyses that produce fresh knowledge on the style, manufacturing techniques and origins of prehistoric pottery. For the first line of research, 84 new samples from 14 Galician Neolithic and Bronze Age (5500-1000 BC) settlements and 50 sediment samples from five different areas in the region will be examined. Methods that will be employed are: assessment of mineralogical composition (XRD), analysis of trace and light elements (XRF), C and N elemental analysis and quantitative colour assessment of pottery ware and decorations (CIELAB system). For the second line, innovative analytical approaches will be applied to a selection of 25-50 samples of the new and previously analysed ceramics series, using XRD, pyrolysis-GC/MS and electron microscopy (SEM), in combination with archaeo-malacological and experimental approaches. This will allow for the detailed assessment of how the parent materials were processed, the molecular composition of the organic matter, firing technologies, firing temperatures, the relation between firing temperature and pottery colour, and decoration techniques.

    Other goals of the project, related to knowledge transfer, are firstly the development of an archaeological and archaeometrical database and secondly the disclosure of results in a scientific and socio-cultural environment.

    In short, this study will allow for the continuation of an innovative, productive and unique research line in Galician Archaeology, and its results will facilitate a new model that may be applied to other pottery contexts and territories.


    Project Details
    • Client
    • Date29 Aug 2017
    • Categories