New Archaeological Method Finds Children Were Skilled Ceramists During the Bronze Age

New Archaeological Method Finds Children Were Skilled Ceramists During the Bronze Age

(Read the article on one page)

Artisanal interpretation of ceramics from the Bronze Age shows that a nine-year-old child could be a highly skilled artisan. This was one of the discoveries presented in a new thesis from Lund University in Sweden. The thesis explores how an artisanal perspective can contribute to archaeology by providing new insights into archaeological artefacts.

"I have found that even the most simple household receptacles could involve tremendous skill. Within archaeology, experts' typological analyses have previously tended to focus on when a receptacle was made and its shape. But, how it was made, the time taken to produce it, and the skills involved, have not been evaluated before," says Katarina Botwid, who is a trained ceramist and now has a doctoral degree in Archaeology from Lund University.

The artisanal interpretation method is based on the human physical ability to create. Within all crafts there are three levels of skill, regardless of the historical period -- artefacts can be made by beginners, competent/skilled artisans or by real "superstars." Katarina's thesis centers around hands-on knowledge, experience-based knowledge that results in new evaluations of finds, and further knowledge on artists' materials and the probable work process at that particular time.

Late Bronze Age pottery from the region around Aiani.

Late Bronze Age pottery from the region around Aiani. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

"I can evaluate the craftsmanship, as I know how long it takes to learn the various skills. For example, you can see from fingerprints left on receptacles that children could be skilled ceramists. It would take about three years to attain the level of skill apparent from some of their receptacles," says Katarina Botwid.

"The fact that children were skilled ceramists in the Bronze Age was something that surprised me, and as far as I am aware, was not been previously known," she continues.

Katarina Botwid also contends that 95% of ceramics survived the ancient firing process and not 50% as previously thought, before experience-based knowledge of craftsmanship was applied. "This is evident from the substantial knowledge that the ceramics bear witness to, which is consistent with ceramics being vital for people who had started living in settlements and needed receptacles for storing food and cooking at that time," states Katarina Botwind.

Applying tacit knowledge of the artisanal method means that archaeologists can now look at artefacts in a new way out in the field and in repositories, and new find categories such as artisanal materials, implements and tools can be identified.

Handmade Bronze Age pottery.

Handmade Bronze Age pottery. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Katarina Botwid found, for example, an oxide crayon dating from around the Birth of Christ -- the first documented find in Sweden of an artists' material that is made, fired and shaped like a crayon. The crayon is of the same type that Rembrandt used for his drawings.

"Finding out that oxide crayons were used as early as the Iron Age means that ancient times were probably not as grey as we think," concludes Katarina Botwid.

Featured image: Receptacle in a child's hands. Credit: K. Botwid. Source: Science Daily

The article ‘ New archaeological method finds children were skilled ceramists during the Bronze Age ’ was originally published on Science Daily .

Source: Lund University. "New archaeological method finds children were skilled ceramists during the Bronze Age." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2016.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Sealings from the archive of Doliche.
Classical scholars from the Cluster of Excellence "Religion and Politics" of the University of Münster discovered a large number of sealings in south-east Turkey. "This unique group of artifacts comprising more than 1,000 pieces from the municipal archive of the ancient city of Doliche gives many insights into the local Graeco-Roman pantheon -- from Zeus to Hera to Iuppiter Dolichenus

Myths & Legends

Deriv; Revelers dressed as Krampusin Austria
In ancient times, a dark, hairy, horned beast was said to show up at the door to beat children, and carry them off in his sharp claws. The Krampus could be heard in the night by the sound of his...

Human Origins

Sumerian creation myth
Sumer , or the ‘land of civilized kings’, flourished in Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, around 4500 BC. Sumerians created an advanced civilization with its own system of elaborate language and...

Ancient Places

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article