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Title: To smooth or not to smooth? A traceological and experimental approach to surface processing of Bronze and Iron Age ceramics


Sprawozdania Archeologiczne 72 nr 2 (2020)


Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk

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ill. ; 25 cm

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The biographic approach – that is, tracing artefacts’ ‘lives’ from production, through their use, and finally to their deposition – is commonly applied in the analysis of lithic, flint, and metal artefacts. Objects made of clay, although the most common artifacts at many prehistoric sites, are rarely subject to such studies. In this paper, we focused on the short span of time during the “life” of a ceramic object when its surfaces were smoothed or/and burnished. Both are typical properties of Bronze/early Iron Age pottery found in today’s Poland. We studied two factors that influenced the desired final effect: the vessel drying time and the applied tool(s). To accomplish this study, we combined the results of observations of 46 samples from three settlements and two cemeteries in southwestern Poland, as well as the analysis of experimental reference samples. We demonstrated that the drying time was crucial, while the tool kit was composed of rather simple, mostly unprepared, objects such as pebbles or pieces of antler. In the smoothing process, we also observed a connection between surface selection (internal/external) and the purpose to which the vessel was put (settlement/funerary)


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Sprawozdania Archeologiczne





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0081-3834 ; doi:10.23858/SA/72.2020.2.2275


IAiE PAN, call no. P 244 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 245 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 243 ; click here to follow the link




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Copyright-protected material. [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY-NC-ND 4.0 license, full text available at: ; -

Digitizing institution:

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Library of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Projects co-financed by:

Ministry of Science and Higher Education ; Activities popularizing science (DUN)



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