Containers of Change: Ancient Container Technologies from Eastern to Western Asia [Hardback]

Olivier P. Nieuwenhuyse (Editor); Reinhard Bernbeck (Editor); Koen Berghuijs (Editor)

ISBN: 9789464270525 | Published by: Sidestone Press | Year of Publication: 2023 | Language: English 286p, H280 x W208 (mm) 52fc / 45bw

Other Formats

Paperback - ISBN: 9789464270518 - £ 50.00

Containers of Change


Across Western Asia, the astonishing increase in the availability of durable ceramic containers in the seventh millennium BCE had significant societal repercussions – so much so that vital social, economic, and symbolic activities became dependent upon the availability of pottery containers. These early ceramic containers, however, established themselves alongside flourishing pre-existing container traditions, with vessels made in a wide range of materials including clay, bitumen, basketry, leather, wood, and stone. How did prehistoric people respond to the emergence of containers as a key factor in their lives?

Building on Olivier Nieuwenhuyse’s rich scholarly legacy, this volume brings together 18 papers by leading scholars in the field of container technology, discussing cases from eastern Asia to Africa, but with a focus on prehistoric Western Asia. Looking not just at pottery but also explicitly beyond, the contributions consider and address the cross-overs of different kinds of raw materials for containers and their crafting; the multiplicity of temporal scales in the production, use and discard of pottery; the social anchoring of vessels’ use and deposition as evident in their specific contexts; and local as well as regional variations in early pottery.

Table of Contents

Reinhard Bernbeck and Koen Berghuijs
The ultimate black box – an introduction
Olivier Nieuwenhuyse†
Thinking inside the mask
Clive Gamble
Containing the flow: Çatalhöyük
Ian Hodder
Clay, enamel & plastic. Three ethnographic studies on diversity and innovation in container usage
Hans Peter Hahn
Just an everyday story of pots? Thinking through the controversies, materialities, and interdependencies of initial pottery and organic containers in the East Mediterranean
Peter Tomkins
Thinking inside the pot – Improving organic residue analysis
Bonnie Nilhamn
Early pottery in Upper Mesopotamia
Marie Le Mière
Imagined Inceptions: of pottery and basketry in the Upper Mesopotamian late Neolithic
Koen Berghuijs and Olivier Nieuwenhuyse†
Alternating mediums? The introduction of pottery to the southern Levant and its impact on the production of stone vessels: Sha‘ar Hagolan as a case study
Danny Rosenberg and Yosef Garfinkel
Early pottery in the Southern Levant and beyond
Kevin Gibbs
A view from the northern forests: container technologies of boreal hunter-gatherers
Henny Piezonka
The affordances of portable containers in early village societies in the Kopet Dag region
Susan Pollock
Containers of collective memories. A biographic-contextual approach to the chlorite vessels of the 10th millennium BCE of northern Mesopotamia
Marion Benz
Containers for spirits: symbolic meaning of early pottery and stone vessels discovered in Tell el-Kerkh
Akira Tsuneki
Clay containers and mobility in the final stage of Neolithisation: storage bins and the earliest pottery at Tell el-Kerkh, northwest Syria
Takahiro Odaka
Immovable and movable containers: evidence from the Syrian Euphrates in the mid-8th millennium cal. BCE
Anna Bach Gómez, Adrià Breu Barcons, Miquel Molist and Walter Cruells
Lifting the lid on the materiality of containing and retrieving
Carl Knappett
Container cultures: a synthesis
Reinhard Bernbeck

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