Styles, Pottery and Complexity at the Swiss Plateau Neolithic ceramic production and consumption 3900-3500 BCE

Hinz, Martin; Heitz, Caroline (12 March 2019). Styles, Pottery and Complexity at the Swiss Plateau Neolithic ceramic production and consumption 3900-3500 BCE (Unpublished). In: International Open Workshop‚ Socio-Environmental Dynamics over the Last 15,000 Years: The Creation of Landscapes VI. Kiel University, Germany. 11-16 March 2019.

The study of pottery and their distribution patterns constitutes one of the basic archaeological tasks since the establishment of the discipline. But what seems so simple and time-tested is in reality a complex process for several reasons: Firstly, different scales, conditions of preser-vation and states of research overlap in the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of ce-ramic artifacts. In terms of research technology, this leads to complexity because we always have only selective evidence from originally spatially much more widespread practices of pot-tery production and consumption, which itself represents only a small part of the underlying ideational space of possible ceramic forms and uses. Thus, secondly, also the past – the real-world process itself – is complex: Distribution takes place in the material space, which is span-ned by distances, but also by transport costs. Another important aspect is social space, which is certainly dependent on material space, but distorts it through its specific configurations. The spread of pots and stylistic features is determined by the sometimes interrelated practices of producers and consumers, some of whom may be identical social groups, some not. Pottery makers and users are related to each other through their actions in complex entanglements, which are supported by spatial mobility of humans and things. Thereby, already locally existing styles affect the appropriation and transformation of innovations, which is co-determined by their positions in relation to each other in a stylistic similarity space. All these interactions within and between the spaces leads to emergent phenomena in terms of style transforma-tion in a diachronic and spatial perspective, which in the end is simply bundled in an archaeo-logically evaluated ceramic vessel. How do we define local and non-local ceramic forms and stylistics features under these conditions? In order to investigate such complex entanglements and their mutual influences, it makes sense to define a spatially and temporally limited domain without isolating it. At the same time, it is extremely helpful to have good control over the dating and homogeneity of the data. The cirumalpine lake shore settlements are an out-standing example of this, where dendrochronology can be used to track changes on a poten-tially year-specific level, where the specific preservation conditions provide an extremely rich collection of even completely preserved vessels, and where long-standing experience and re-search practices have established standards for data reporting. In this presentation we want to give an insight into the already achieved results of the SNFS-project 'Mobilities, Entangle-ments and Transformations of Neolithic societies on the Swiss Plateau (3900-3500 BCE)' re-garding the complexity of mutual stylistic influences. On the other hand, we want to discuss our ideas for a simulation based on these results. With the help of an abstract agent-based model, which simulates the acting individuals and their interdependencies as well as the spread of styles along these networks, the salience of the different spaces and the driving forces for change in the ceramic production of Late Neolithic societies of the Swiss Plateau and beyond will be better understood against the background of empirical findings.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

UniBE Contributor:

Hinz, Martin, Heitz, Caroline Franziska


900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)




Caroline Franziska Heitz

Date Deposited:

21 May 2019 15:56

Last Modified:

24 May 2023 14:29


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