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The adoption of pottery by north-east European hunter-gatherers: Evidence from lipid residue analysis

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  • Ester Oras
  • Alexandre Lucquin
  • Lembi Lõugas
  • Mari Tõrv
  • Aivar Kriiska
  • Oliver E. Craig


Publication details

JournalJournal of archaeological science
DateAccepted/In press - 30 Nov 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 25 Dec 2016
DatePublished (current) - 1 Feb 2017
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)112-119
Early online date25/12/16
Original languageEnglish


Pottery was adopted by hunter-gatherers in the Eastern Baltic at the end of the 6th millennium cal BC. To examine the motivations for this cultural and technological shift, here we report the organic residue analysis of ceramic vessels from the earliest pottery horizon (Narva) in this region. A combined approach using GC-MS, GC-C-IRMS and bulk IRMS of residues absorbed into the ceramic and charred surface deposits was employed. The results show that despite variable preservation, Narva ceramic vessels were preferentially used for processing aquatic products. We argue that pottery was part of a new Late Mesolithic subsistence strategy which included more intensive exploitation of aquatic foods and may have had important implications, such as increased sedentism and population growth.

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©2016 Elsevier Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Aquatic resources, Early pottery use, Eastern Baltic, Lipid residue analysis, Mesolithic, Neolithic

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