The history of ceramic art and pottery has had a new chapter added. It had been widely believed by historians, who had studied early ceramics, that the technologies needed had only started to be developed in approximately 8,000 BCE, as the communities of the Neolithic era had started to settle. However, intensive research by a combined team from the University of Cambridge (England) and colleagues in Croatia has pushed back the boundary by nearly 7,500 years.
The research, ongoing since 2010, has centred around an area in Croatia, on the Adriatic coast, known as Vela Spila. Several (36 in total) fragments of ceramic models have been found, of various four legged animals. The models are well made, by craftsmen, and have been attributed to the ‘Epigravettian’ culture, which had a life span of over 12,000 years, and the carbon dating of the fragments found places them squarely within this period. Dr Preston Miracle, of the University of Cambridge, has a possible explanation for the anomaly, “It is extremely unusual to find ceramic art this early in prehistory. The finds at Vela Spila seem to represent the first evidence of Palaeolithic ceramic art at the end of the last Ice Age. They appear to have been developed independently of anything that had come before. We are starting to see that several distinct Palaeolithic societies made art from ceramic materials long before the Neolithic era, when ceramics became more common and were usually used for more functional purposes”.
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