This paper presents the somewhat unexpected findings of a preliminary archaeometric study of ‘painted’ early Neolithic pottery from the site of Dzhulyunitsa, north central Bulgaria. While there is still no consensus on the actual model of Neolithisation of this region, expectations are that there would have been a transfer of pottery technology and possible small quantities of painted pottery from the West Anatolian homeland to early Neolithic sites in Bulgaria. However, our findings confound these expectations. Pottery from the earliest levels of the site are all based on local materials: there are no imported wares. There is no evidence of the experimental phase that would be expected as migrant potters learned to adjust to local clays. Instead the pottery is of a very high quality from the outset, using naturally fine clays that do not require temper: though organic material is sometimes added, albeit often in non-functional quantities. What were thought to be dark-painted layers are shown to be simply the high-quality burnishes that can be developed using these micaceous local clays: in some cases with outer surfaces enhanced with ochre. White-slipped and white-on red decorated sherds from the second layer of the site continue to showcase a mastery of local materials, with white pigments base on nearby limestones and marls. But here, petrographic analysis identifies some white-painted wares which are clearly not local, with both bodies and paint compositions pointing to a different provenance and technology. As it continues, this project aims to establish the full range of Dzhulyunitsa pottery fabrics to reconstruct manufacturing technologies and raw material sourcing patterns, for comparison with contemporary sites across the region.
The article present the first stage of the statistical analysis of the pottery from the ‘Palace centre-east’ site in Pliska. The pottery has been grouped according to technological and functional properties in the following categories: pottery made on slow wheel (pots and bowls), grey pottery (pots and bowls), pottery made on fast wheel (pots, bowls, jars, dishes), amphora-like pitchers (made of light clay or of red clay and pitchers with red slip), amphorae, glazed ware and other categories (Table 1). The database consists of 5648 fragments of household ware found in an area of 200 m2 (Fig.2). The complex analysis of the investigated sector has allowed the determination of three stratigraphic horizons in the post-capital period of Pliska: horizon I (first half of the 10th century AD till the 70s of the same century); horizon II (70s of the 10th century AD till the 30s of the 11th century AD); horizon III (30s-40s of the 11th century AD till 60s of the same century). Various ratios between the different types of pottery are analyzed and presented in different diagrams. The ratio between the three functional groups of pottery – coarse ware, fine ware and storage/transport ware- is 71%:24%:5%. The assessment of the degree of fragmentation was made by the analysis of characteristic fragments (rims and bases). The total number of vessels in the three horizons is different – 12%:57%:31%. Such percentage ratio suggests certain demographic dynamics, according to which the most significant population growth is between the end of the 10th century AD and the first third of the 11th century AD. The detailed analysis of the structure of the pottery assemblage in the post-capital period in Pliska allows inferences to be made not only about the nature of the ceramic production but also serves as a basis for clarification of the social profile of the population, its cultural characteristics and the overall social functioning in the post-capital period of Pliska.