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A Conservative Party? Pots and People in the Hebridean Neolithic

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Publication details

JournalProceedings of the Prehistoric Society
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Jul 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 22 Oct 2018
DatePublished (current) - Dec 2018
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)257-275
Early online date22/10/18
Original languageUndefined/Unknown


© The Prehistoric Society 2018. Recent analysis of the ceramic assemblage from the Neolithic loch islet settlement of Eilean Dòmhnuill, North Uist, in the Western Isles of Scotland has highlighted the intense conservatism of the potting traditions over a period of more than 800 years. Hebridean Neolithic pottery exhibits clear relationships with pottery from Argyll, Arran, and Bute, as well as Orkney and the north-east mainland of Scotland. It appears to have developed a distinctive, often decoratively elaborate regional form very soon after its initial appearance, which subsequently appears to have undergone little or no significant change until the introduction of Grooved Ware in the early 3rd millennium bc. An association exists between large assemblages of elaborately decorated Hebridean pottery and a number of artificial islets in freshwater lochs, some very small and producing little or no evidence for domestic activities. This might be explained by the importance of commensality in mediating relations between small communities in the Western Isle at such sites following the introduction of agriculture in the 2nd quarter of the 4th millennium bc. The conservatism and stasis evident at Eilean Dòmhnuill, in the face of environmental decline, raises wider issues around the adaptive capabilities of the first farming communities prior to significant social changes in the earlier 3rd millennium bc.

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