To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Artificial illumination is a fundamental human need. Burning wood and other materials usually in hearths and fireplaces extended daylight hours, whilst the use of flammable substances in torches offered light on the move. It is increasingly understood that pottery played a role in light production. In this study, we focus on ceramic oval bowls, made and used primarily by hunter-gatherer-fishers of the circum-Baltic over a c. 2000 year period beginning in the mid-6th millennium cal bc. Oval bowls commonly occur alongside larger (cooking) vessels. Their function as ‘oil lamps’ for illumination has been proposed on many occasions but only limited direct evidence has been secured to test this functional association. This study presents the results of molecular and isotopic analysis of preserved organic residues obtained from 115 oval bowls from 25 archaeological sites representing a wide range of environmental settings. Our findings confirm that the oval bowls of the circum-Baltic were used primarily for burning fats and oils, predominantly for the purposes of illumination. The fats derive from the tissues of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial organisms. Bulk isotope data of charred surface deposits show a consistently different pattern of use when oval bowls are compared to other pottery vessels within the same assemblage. It is suggested that hunter-gatherer-fishers around the 55th parallel commonly deployed material culture for artificial light production but the evidence is restricted to times and places where more durable technologies were employed, including the circum-Baltic.
The shell-midden site of Riņņukalns in northern Latvia offers a rare opportunity to study long-term trends in ceramic production and function at a European hunter-fisher-gatherer site. Riņņukalns was occupied from the sixth millennium BC, with the midden developing from the later fourth millennium. Here, the authors discuss the chaîne opératoire and function of the Riņņukalns material, showing that pottery was used in both the pre-midden and midden phases primarily to cook aquatic and porcine resources. The technology used to produce these cooking vessels, however, changed over time, with new firing techniques associated with a shift to the use of shell temper. The results have implications for understanding prehistoric technology and subsistence in other parts of the world.
Objects imported over long distances often have rich biographies, not least a collection of bronze objects found in a peat bog in Estonia that included an elaborate lamp of Roman origin. Combining new scientific approaches with earlier observations and traditional archaeological analysis, the authors reconstruct the provenance, possible itinerary and changing use of the lamp over half a millennium, and across thousands of kilometres. They highlight its variable roles, from luxurious illumination to valuable raw material. The results demonstrate the importance of looking beyond the original time and place of manufacture, and beyond the primary function when constructing the biographies of imported objects.
Ship burials are a well-known feature of Scandinavian Viking Age archaeology, but the discovery of 41 individuals buried in two ships in Estonia belongs to the Pre-Viking period and is the first of its kind in Europe. The two crews met a violent end around AD 750, and were buried with a variety of richly decorated weapons, tools, gaming pieces and animal bones. The rich grave goods suggest that this was a diplomatic delegation protected by a cohort of elite warriors. They were armed with swords of Scandinavian design, possibly from the Stockholm-Mälaren region, and stable isotope analysis is consistent with that being the probable homeland of the crew.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.