Sea, ceramics and islands in western France, a diachronic perspective

Abstract : The aim of this paper is to present research on the ceramic production and exchange between the mainland and islands of Brittany (western France) from the middle Neolithic (4600 B.C.) to the end of the Iron Age period (52 B.C.). By achaeometric analysis of pottery, we questioned the impact of sea and insularity on communications and exchanges networks, between the island and mainland communities. Did these islands produce their own pottery or were they dependent on mainland production? Did exist particular traditions on the island in the production of ceramics? By determining the origin of the raw material used to shape the pottery, it is possible to identify the changing degrees of connection with, or isolation from, wider networks. In this paper, we will present research on the ceramic production and exchange between the mainland and islands of Brittany in western France from the middle Neolithic (4600 B.C.) to the end of the Late Iron Age (52 B.C.). Several multi-scalar approaches have been used to study ceramics from 25 different occupations from the island and mainland. The macroscopic observations, as well as microscopic examination of ceramic thin sections for the identification of the mineralogical composition of the clay, and to determine its geological and geographic origins. These techniques have been complemented by global chemical analyses: SEM-EDS, XR-D and P-XRF and a new approach by punctual analyses by LA-ICP-MS of non-plastic inclusions. This diachronic work allows us to document the evolution of characteristics, changing locations of raw material supply and pottery production. We observed through time the increase of the ceramic importations on the island, and the decrease of exchange between the islands. Furthermore, we highlighted significant changes in the size of non-plastic inclusions, during the Bronze Age, and Late Iron Age linked to the adoption of new technologies by potters. Moreover, this research enabled us to develop a new concept in the exchanges of ceramics: the fact that pottery can be considered as prestige good due to the utilisation of certain types of raw materials, with particular physical and mechanical proprieties. Finally, the results of this research provide new evidence about the prehistoric occupation of the islands of Brittany by petrographic and chemical analyses of ceramics.
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Conference papers
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Submitted on : Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 10:16:05 AM
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  • HAL Id : hal-02093645, version 1

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Benjamin Gehres. Sea, ceramics and islands in western France, a diachronic perspective. Exploring the World’s Prehistory, XVIIIe congrès mondial de l’Union internationale des sciences préhistoriques et protohistoriques (UISPP), Union internationale des sciences préhistoriques et protohistoriques (UISPP), Jun 2018, Paris, France. ⟨hal-02093645⟩

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