Unstan ware

Unstan ware is the name used by archaeologists for a type of finely made and decorated Neolithic pottery from the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. Typical are elegant and distinctive shallow bowls with a band of grooved patterning below the rim,[1] a type of decoration which was created using a technique known as "stab-and-drag". A second version consists of undecorated, round-bottomed bowls.[2] Some of the bowls had bits of volcanic rock included in the clay to make them stronger. Bone tools were used to burnish the surfaces to make them shiny and impermeable.[3]

Unstan ware is named after the Unstan Chambered Cairn on the Mainland of the Orkney Islands,[4] a fine example of a stalled chambered tomb in a circular mound, where the style of pottery was first found in 1884. Unstan ware is mostly found in tombs, specifically tombs of the Orkney-Cromarty type.[5] These include the Tomb of the Eagles at Isbister on South Ronaldsay, and Taversoe Tuick and Midhowe on Rousay.[6]

Unstan ware has been found occasionally at sites in Orkney other than tombs; for example, the farmstead of Knap of Howar on Papa Westray.[7] Although more recent excavations in Orkney have found Unstan ware to be a more common feature in a domestic context than previously thought, challenging the interpretation of Unstan ware being mainly from tombs.[8] and in the Western Isles, as at Eilean Domhnuill.[9]

Unstan ware may have evolved into the later grooved ware style. This interpretation was originally based primarily on a presumed evolution in pottery styles, from Unstan ware to grooved ware, seen at the settlement of Rinyo on Rousay. D.V. Clarke claimed in 1983 that his investigations at Rinyo had debunked this sequence.[10] John Hedges is another primary proponent of what might be termed the "cultural coexistence" hypothesis, suggesting that although Unstan ware may predate grooved ware, the cultures associated with these styles of pottery lived side-by-side across Orkney for centuries.[11] In this interpretation of the evidence, grooved ware is associated with the builders of the Maeshowe class of chambered tomb. The geographic distribution on Orkney of the two pottery types is as follows: grooved ware is found on Mainland, Sanday, and North Ronaldsay, with Unstan ware found on Mainland and the remaining islands, especially Rousay and Eday.[12] Hedges sums up his view this way:

What is important is an understanding that the neolithic population of Orkney can be divided into two major parts on the basis of some elements of their material cultures. It is probable that they originated from different areas and...there is no difficulty in imagining their ability to coexist.[13]

However, he also notes:

One point that should be made at the outset is that there is no discernable difference in the culture- in the social anthropological sense- of the Grooved Ware and Unstan Ware people...it is only apparent from limited aspects of material culture and the evidence...shows it to have been subordinate to a tribal level of unity which took in the whole of Orkney.[14]

Unstan ware
Fragment of an Unstan ware bowl.

See also

Unstan ware 2
Unstan ware from Taversoe Tuick.

Footnotes

  1. ^ Henshall 1985, p. 88
  2. ^ Laing 1974, p. 51
  3. ^ Castleden 1987, p. 82
  4. ^ Ritchie 1985, p. 48
  5. ^ Henshall 1985, p. 110
  6. ^ Ritchie 1995, p. 54
  7. ^ Ritchie 1995, p. 52
  8. ^ Jones et al 2016, p. 375
  9. ^ Henshall 1972, p. 177
  10. ^ Clarke 1983, pp. 49-51
  11. ^ Hedges 1984, p. 117
  12. ^ Hedges 1984, pp. 118-119
  13. ^ Hedges 1984, p. 114
  14. ^ Hedges 1984, p. 127

References

  • Castleden, Rodney (1987). The Stonehenge People: An Exploration of Life in Neolithic Britain 4700-2000 BC. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. ISBN 0-7102-0968-1.
  • Clarke, D.V. (1983). Rinyo and the Orcadian Neolithic, in: O'Connor, A and Clarke, D.V. (Eds.) From the Stone Age to the 'Forty Five. Studies presented to R.B.K. Stevenson. Edinburgh.
  • Jones, Andrew Meirion; Jones, Richard; Tully, Gemma; Maritan, Lara; Mukherjee, Anna; Evershed, Richard; MacSween, Ann; Richards, Colin; Towers, Card. "Prehistoric Pottery from Sites within the Bay of Firth: Stonehall, Crossiecrown, Wideford Hill, Brae of Smerquoy, Muchquoy, Ramberry and Knowes of Trotty". In Richards, Colin; Jones, Richard (eds.). The Development of Neolithic House Societies in Orkney. Oxford: Windgather Press. pp. 303–412. ISBN 9781909686892.
  • Hedges, John W. (1984). Tomb of the Eagles: Death and Life in a Stone Age Tribe. New York: New Amsterdam. ISBN 0-941533-05-0.
  • Henshall, Audrey (1972). The Chambered Tombs of Scotland Vol. 2. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Henshall, Audrey (1985). The Chambered Cairns, in: Renfrew, Colin (Ed.) The Prehistory of Orkney BC 4000-1000 AD. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-85224-456-8.
  • Laing, Lloyd (1974). Orkney and Shetland: An Archaeological Guide. Newton Abbott: David and Charles Ltd. ISBN 0-7153-6305-0.
  • Reynolds, N.; Ralston, I. (1979). Balbridie, Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1979. Edinburgh: Council for British Archaeology: Scottish Regional Group.
  • Ritchie, Anna (1985). The First Settlers, in: Renfrew, Colin (Ed.) The Prehistory of Orkney BC 4000-1000 AD. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-85224-456-8.
  • Ritchie, Anna (1995). Prehistoric Orkney. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd. ISBN 0-7134-7593-5.
Bare Island projectile point

The Bare Island projectile point is a stone projectile point of prehistoric indigenous peoples of North America. It was named by Fred Kinsey in 1959 for examples recovered at the Kent-Halley site on Bare Island in Pennsylvania.

Celt (tool)

In archaeology, a celt is a long, thin, prehistoric, stone or bronze tool similar to an adze, a hoe or axe-like tool.

Cortaillod culture

The Cortaillod culture is one of several archaeologically defined cultures belonging to the Neolithic period of Switzerland. The Cortaillod Culture in the west of the region is contemporary with the Pfyn Culture

in the east and dates from between 3900-3500 BC. The Classic Cortaillod Culture of the western Alpine foreland and the Early Cortaillod Culture of central Switzerland pre-date this at 4300-3900 BC.

Evidence such as higher frequencies of dog bones and pendants made from dog metapodials suggests a special relationship between dog and man during the later part of this period in the western part and the early Horgen culture in the eastern part of the Alpine foreland.

Cumberland point

A Cumberland point is a lithic projectile point, attached to a spear and used as a hunting tool. These sturdy points were intended for use as thrusting weapons and employed by various mid-Paleo-Indians (c. 11,000 BP) in the Southeastern US in the killing of large game mammals.

Dudești culture

The Dudeşti culture is a farming/herding culture that occupied part of Romania in the 6th millennium BC, typified by semi-subterranean habitations (Zemlyanki) on the edges of low plateaus. This culture contributed to the origin of both the subsequent Hamangia culture and the Boian culture. It was named after Dudeşti, a quarter in the southeast of Bucharest.

Eilean Dòmhnuill

Ian Armit identifies the islet of Eilean Dòmhnuill (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Dòmhnaill, Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [elan ˈt̪õː.ɪʎ], "The Isle of Donald"), Loch Olabhat, on North Uist, Scotland, as what may be the earliest crannog. Unstan ware pottery found there suggests a Neolithic period date of 3200-2800 BC. A surrounding timber screen and the turf-walled houses seem to have been repeatedly taken down and rebuilt, and in the final phase two oblong stone-footed structures bear a resemblance to Knap of Howar on Papa Westray, Orkney.

Grinding slab

In archaeology, a grinding slab is a ground stone artifact generally used to grind plant materials into usable size, though some slabs were used to shape other ground stone artifacts. Some grinding stones are portable; others are not and, in fact, may be part of a stone outcropping.

Grinding slabs used for plant processing typically acted as a coarse surface against which plant materials were ground using a portable hand stone, or mano ("hand" in Spanish). Variant grinding slabs are referred to as metates or querns, and have a ground-out bowl. Like all ground stone artifacts, grinding slabs are made of large-grained materials such as granite, basalt, or similar tool stones.

Grooved ware

Grooved ware is the name given to a pottery style of the British Neolithic. Its manufacturers are sometimes known as the Grooved ware people. Unlike the later Beaker ware, Grooved culture was not an import from the continent but seems to have developed in Orkney, early in the 3rd millennium BC, and was soon adopted in Britain and Ireland.The diagnostic shape for the style is a flat-bottomed pot with straight sides sloping outwards and grooved decoration around the top. Beyond this the pottery comes in many varieties, some with complex geometric decorations others with applique bands added. The latter has led some archaeologists to argue that the style is a skeuomorph and is derived from wicker basketry.

Grooved ware pots excavated at Balfarg in Fife have been chemically analysed to determine their contents. It appears that some of the vessels there may have been used to hold black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) which is a poison and a powerful hallucinogen.

Since many Grooved ware pots have been found at henge sites and in burials, it is possible that they may have had a ritual purpose as well as a functional one. Grooved ware comes in many sizes, some vessels are extremely large, c. 30 gallons, and would be suitable for fermentation. The majority are smaller, ranging from jug- to cup-size, and could be used for serving and drinking. The theory that the first British farmers (c. 4000 BC) had the knowledge and ability to make ale from their crops with their pottery appears to be controversial and not yet widely discussed by the archaeological community.

The earliest examples have been found in Orkney and may have evolved from earlier Unstan ware bowls. The recent excavations at nearby Ness of Brodgar have revealed many sherds of finely decorated Grooved ware pottery, some of it representing very large pots. A large number of drinking vessels have also been identified. The style soon spread and it was used by the builders of the first phase of Stonehenge. Grooved ware pottery has been found in abundance in recent excavations at Durrington Walls and Marden Henge in Wiltshire. Here, the feasting would have involved drinking ale and eating pork. Smaller quantities of Grooved ware have been found at the nearby site of Figsbury Ring.

Grooved ware was previously referred to as Rinyo-Clacton ware, first identified by Stuart Piggott in the 1950s and named after sites where it was found. Rinyo is a neolithic settlement on the island of Rousay, Orkney. The site at Clacton now lies under the sea.

One way the tradition may have spread is through trade routes up the west coast of Britain. What seems unusual is that although they shared the same style of pottery, different regions still maintained vastly different traditions. Evidence at some early Henges (Mayburgh Henge, Ring of Brodgar, Arbor Low) suggests that there were staging and trading points on a national 'motorway' during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. This evidence perhaps explains how Cumbrian stone axes found their way to Orkney.

Unstan ware, a variation on grooved ware, emerged in Orkney. The people who used Unstan ware had totally different burial practices but managed to co-exist with their Grooved ware counterparts. Some hybrid chambered cairns have emerged in this region, containing architectural features of both the Maeshowe subclass and the Orkney-Cromarty stalled subclasses of cairn.

Körös culture

The Körös culture/Criş culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture in Central Europe that was named after the river Körös in eastern Hungary. The same river has the name Criș in Romania, hence the name Criş culture. The 2 variants of the river name are used for the same archaeological culture in the 2 regions. The Criș culture survived from about 5800 to 5300 BC. It is related to the neighboring Starčevo culture and is included within a larger grouping known as the Starčevo–Körös–Criş culture.

Lamoka projectile point

Lamoka projectile points are stone projectile points manufactured by Native Americans what is now the northeastern United States, generally in the time interval of 3500-2500 B.C. They predate the invention of the bow and arrow, and are therefore not true "arrowheads", but rather atlatl dart points. They derive their name from the specimens found at the Lamoka site in Schuyler County, New York.

Midhowe Chambered Cairn

Midhowe Chambered Cairn is a large Neolithic chambered cairn located on the south shore of the island of Rousay, Orkney, Scotland. The name "Midhowe" comes from the Iron Age broch known as Midhowe Broch, that lies just west of the tomb. The broch got its name from the fact that it's the middle of three such structures that lie grouped within 500 metres (1,600 ft) of each other and Howe from the Old Norse word haugr meaning mound or barrow. Together, the broch and chambered cairn form part of a large complex of ancient structures on the shore of Eynhallow Sound separating Rousay from Mainland, Orkney.

Pesse canoe

The Pesse canoe is believed to be the world's oldest known boat, and certainly the oldest known canoe. Carbon dating indicates that the boat was constructed during the early mesolithic period between 8040 BCE and 7510 BCE. It is now in the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands.

Plano point

In archeology, Plano point is flaked stone projectile points and tools created by the various Plano cultures of the North American Great Plains between 9000 BC and 6000 BC for hunting, and possibly to kill other humans.

They are bifacially worked and have been divided into numerous sub-groups based on variations in size, shape and function including Alberta points, Cody points, Frederick points, Eden points and Scottsbluff points. Plano points do not include the hollowing or 'fluting' found in Clovis and Folsom points.

Racloir

In archeology, a racloir, also known as racloirs sur talon (French for scraper on the platform), is a certain type of flint tool made by prehistoric peoples.

It is a type of side scraper distinctive of Mousterian assemblages. It is created from a flint flake and looks like a large scraper. As well as being used for scraping hides and bark, it may also have been used as a knife. Racloirs are most associated with the Neanderthal Mousterian industry. These racloirs are retouched along the ridge between the striking platform and the dorsal face. They have shaped edges and are modified by abrupt flaking from the dorsal face.

Tisza culture

The Tisza culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture of the Alföld plain in modern-day Hungary, Western Romania, Eastern Slovakia and Ukrainian Zakarpattia Oblast in Central Europe. The culture is dated to the 5th and 4th millennia BCE.

Tool stone

In archaeology, a tool stone is a type of stone that is used to manufacture stone tools,

or stones used as the raw material for tools.Generally speaking, tools that require a sharp edge are made using cryptocrystalline materials that fracture in an easily controlled conchoidal manner.

Cryptocrystalline tool stones include flint and chert, which are fine-grained sedimentary materials; rhyolite and felsite, which are igneous flowstones; and obsidian, a form of natural glass created by igneous processes. These materials fracture in a predictable fashion, and are easily resharpened. For more information on this subject, see lithic reduction.

Large-grained materials, such as basalt, granite, and sandstone, may also be used as tool stones, but for a very different purpose: they are ideal for ground stone artifacts. Whereas cryptocrystalline materials are most useful for killing and processing animals, large-grained materials are usually used for processing plant matter. Their rough faces often make excellent surfaces for grinding plant seeds. With much effort, some large-grained stones may be ground down into awls, adzes, and axes.

Tor enclosure

A tor enclosure is a prehistoric monument found in the southwestern part of Great Britain. These monuments emerged around 4000 BC in the early

Neolithic.

Uniface

In archeology, a uniface is a specific type of stone tool that has been flaked on one surface only. There are two general classes of uniface tools: modified flakes—and formalized tools, which display deliberate, systematic modification of the marginal edges, evidently formed for a specific purpose.

Unstan Chambered Cairn

Unstan (or Onstan, or Onston) is a Neolithic chambered cairn located about 2 miles (3 km) north-east of Stromness on Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. The tomb was built on a promontory that extends into the Loch of Stenness near the settlement of Howe. Unstan is notable as an atypical hybrid of the two main types of chambered cairn found on Orkney, and as the location of the first discovery of a type of pottery that now bears the name of the tomb. The site is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland as a scheduled monument.

World Heritage Site
Other Neolithic Sites
Iron Age Sites
By location
Architecture
Artefacts
Economy
Tribes
Warfare
Timeline
Horizons
Cultures
Monumental
architecture
Technology
Concepts

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.