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Ancient Ingenuity

Neolithic Pottery

Our ancestors were just as bright as us!

We often underestimate our distant ancestors, but some of the pots in today’s fresh stock release show clearly an ingenuity familiar with our own 5,000 years later.

The pieces are from the Neolithic period in China, the time when foraging for survival was replaced by a more sophisticated & settled life. At this time, on the fertile plains of the Yellow River in modern-day China, settlements have become permanent, crops are being propagated, and while metal working is not yet evident, pottery is being made – although the wheel has not yet been invented. The pottery is therefore made using a coil technique, literally rolling a long ‘snake’ of clay which is then coiled up on itself to build up the wall of the vessel.

Neolithic lug
A Neolithic lug

While processing this group of Neolithic pots, and being short on space, I instinctively placed one onto another in a stack. Normally, this would result in a precarious pile susceptible to slipping; however, this stack was quite stable.

The reason for this stability is the odd lugs you see protruding on these vessels at times; they are not decoration, but essential stabilisers for stacking pots!

Being able to stack saves on space, but could also allow a processing of food in layers, for example over a heat source. It brought to mind the Chinese dumpling pots we still use today.

Neolithic Chinese Stacking Pots
Neolithic Chinese Stacking Pots

The only difference between ‘us’ in the present and our distant ancestors is our access to the accumulation of knowledge through our history, such as metalworking and engineering techniques.
The ingenuity of us Humans is still the same creative force.

Some past-stock Chinese Neolithic pottery.

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