Neolithic Vessels with Animal Characteristics: Modifications of Material Corporeal Signs, Negotiations of Clay Bodyscapes

Animal Iconography in the Archaeological Record - New Approaches, New Dimensions

Evangelia Voulgari [+-]
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Evangelia Voulgari, archaeologist, member of the Laboratory Teaching Staff of the School of History and Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Her areas of interest and research are in prehistoric archaeology and material culture studies, while her main research area is Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery from northern Greece. She is a member of the research teams in the excavations of the prehistoric settlements at Dispilio, Kastoria, and at Archontiko, Pella, in northern Greece.

Description

Based on the analysis of Late Neolithic pottery from Dispilio, northern Greece, this chapter aims to shed light on the social significance of vessels decorated or shaped with animal characteristics. A variety of such vessels occur in the ceramic assemblage of this lakeside settlement, and among them is a remarkable number of so-called ‘rhyta’, which is a peculiar type of shallow, slanted vessel on four legs and with large vertical handles. Their enigmatic form and territorial spread (from southern Greece through Albania to northern Italy, to Lipari and the Aeolian Islands, and to Kosovo and central Bosnia) have puzzled many researchers and led to a number of theories. The Dispilio assemblage provides the opportunity of examining these peculiar vessels along with other zoomorphic, anthropomorphic and ‘x-morphic’ representations. Using the vessels with animal characteristics as a baseline, I shall attempt to propose an alternative approach, seeing the surface of the vessels as the contact zones between humans, things and animals, where exchanges take place through representation. These zones of interaction, where the boundaries of worlds jostle each other, are considered the outcome of negotiations of bodyscapes – distinguished from the flesh and blood they seek to imitate and framed by human intention, in order to either transgress or to emphasise the dichotomies of human-animal, animate-inanimate.

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Citation

Voulgari, Evangelia. Neolithic Vessels with Animal Characteristics: Modifications of Material Corporeal Signs, Negotiations of Clay Bodyscapes. Animal Iconography in the Archaeological Record - New Approaches, New Dimensions. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Feb 2021. ISBN 9781781799260. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=38875. Date accessed: 04 Aug 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38875. Feb 2021

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