The transmission of pottery technology among prehistoric European hunter-gatherers

Ekaterina Dolbunova, Alexandre Jules Andre Lucquin, Rowan McLaughlin, Manon Bondetti, Blandine Courel, Ester Oras, Henny Piezonka, Harry Kenneth Robson, Helen M. Talbot, Kamil Adamczak, Konstantin Andreev, Vitali Asheichyk, Maxim Charniauski, Agnieszka Czekaj-Zastawny, Igor Ezepenko, Tatjana Grechkina, Alise Gunnarssone, Tatyana M. Gusentsova, Dmytro Haskevych, Marina IvanischevaJacek Kabaciński, Viktor Karmanov, Natalia Kosorukova, Elena Kostyleva, Aivar Kriiska, Stanisław Kukawka, Olga Lozovskaya, Andrey Mazurkevich, Nadezhda Nedomolkina, Gytis Piličiauskas, Galina Sinitsyna, Andrey Skorobogatov, Roman V. Smolyaninov, Aleksey Surkov, Oleg Tkachov, Maryia Tkachova, Andrey Tsybrij, Viktor Tsybrij, Aleksandr A. Vybornov, Adam Wawrusiewicz, Aleksandr I. Yudin, John Meadows, Carl P. Heron, Oliver Edward Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human history has been shaped by global dispersals of technologies, although understanding of what enabled these processes is limited. Here, we explore the behavioural mechanisms that led to the emergence of pottery among hunter-gatherer communities in Europe during the mid-Holocene. Through radiocarbon dating, we propose this dispersal occurred at a far faster rate than previously thought. Chemical characterization of organic residues shows that European hunter-gatherer pottery had a function structured around regional culinary practices rather than environmental factors. Analysis of the forms, decoration and technological choices suggests that knowledge of pottery spread through a process of cultural transmission. We demonstrate a correlation between the physical properties of pots and how they were used, reflecting social traditions inherited by successive generations of hunter-gatherers. Taken together the evidence supports kinship-driven, super-regional communication networks that existed long before other major innovations such as agriculture, writing, urbanism or metallurgy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-183
Number of pages16
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Early online date22 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

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