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From content to context: a food residue study of ceramics of the fourth millennium BC in the Upper and Middle Thames Valley, UK

From content to context: a food residue study of ceramics of the fourth millennium BC in the Upper and Middle Thames Valley, UK
From content to context: a food residue study of ceramics of the fourth millennium BC in the Upper and Middle Thames Valley, UK
This research explores the extent to which food residues from ceramics can contribute to archaeological understanding of the fourth millennium BC. Known archaeologically as the Early and Middle Neolithic, this prehistoric period is disputed among archaeologists and food-related evidence is especially contested. This research explores food-related evidence from new angles in that traditional approaches to diet are abandoned in favour of smaller-scale study of cookery practices. Food residues from Early and Middle Neolithic ceramic vessels were analysed by GC/MS and GC/C/IRMS. The techniques target the lipid (fats, oils, and waxes) component of foods that were cooked in the ceramic vessels in prehistory. The scientific datasets thus obtained were integrated with contextual information from the ceramic assemblages and the sites at which they were recovered. The sampled ceramic assemblages were recovered from archaeological sites made up primarily of pit features, which contain important evidence of life beyond the conspicuous monuments of the Neolithic. Several pit sites have come to light in the Upper and Middle Thames Valley during developer-funded excavation in the last couple of decades, and a new picture of everyday lives in the fourth millennium BC is emerging. This research contributes to this emerging picture in that it reveals local variation and regional consistency in foodways and pottery use. It demonstrates that pottery and food were closely connected during this period and that potters actively responded to the requirements of food preparation. This interplay between pottery and food has implications for more traditional typological studies of the ceramic record. It is argued that food residues from ceramics can be a source of information for material culture studies as well as for dietary reconstruction.
Sibbesson, Emilie
a344f132-9793-4e91-846e-101f23a7d28e
Sibbesson, Emilie
a344f132-9793-4e91-846e-101f23a7d28e
Jones, Andrew
3e8becff-0d46-42eb-85db-2dd4f07e92a3
Sturt, Fraser
442e14e1-136f-4159-bd8e-b002bf6b95f6

Sibbesson, Emilie (2014) From content to context: a food residue study of ceramics of the fourth millennium BC in the Upper and Middle Thames Valley, UK. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 230pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This research explores the extent to which food residues from ceramics can contribute to archaeological understanding of the fourth millennium BC. Known archaeologically as the Early and Middle Neolithic, this prehistoric period is disputed among archaeologists and food-related evidence is especially contested. This research explores food-related evidence from new angles in that traditional approaches to diet are abandoned in favour of smaller-scale study of cookery practices. Food residues from Early and Middle Neolithic ceramic vessels were analysed by GC/MS and GC/C/IRMS. The techniques target the lipid (fats, oils, and waxes) component of foods that were cooked in the ceramic vessels in prehistory. The scientific datasets thus obtained were integrated with contextual information from the ceramic assemblages and the sites at which they were recovered. The sampled ceramic assemblages were recovered from archaeological sites made up primarily of pit features, which contain important evidence of life beyond the conspicuous monuments of the Neolithic. Several pit sites have come to light in the Upper and Middle Thames Valley during developer-funded excavation in the last couple of decades, and a new picture of everyday lives in the fourth millennium BC is emerging. This research contributes to this emerging picture in that it reveals local variation and regional consistency in foodways and pottery use. It demonstrates that pottery and food were closely connected during this period and that potters actively responded to the requirements of food preparation. This interplay between pottery and food has implications for more traditional typological studies of the ceramic record. It is argued that food residues from ceramics can be a source of information for material culture studies as well as for dietary reconstruction.

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Published date: August 2014
Organisations: University of Southampton, Archaeology

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Local EPrints ID: 374590
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/374590
PURE UUID: a800b958-b1b3-4cdd-8e70-5e449c8e2a47

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Date deposited: 23 Feb 2015 14:41
Last modified: 01 Feb 2018 05:01

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