White Pigments Used for Inlay and Painting on Pottery Dated Back to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Period (Archaeometric Study)


  • Angelina Pirovska Department of Archaeology, Faculty of History, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, 15 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd, 1504 Sofia


white pigment, inlay, pottery, paint, XRD


White, yellow, red, brown and black pigments were used for the decoration of pottery in the prehistoric period on the Balkans. The use of white pigment is the only technology of decoration which has undergone development between the 6th and 1st millennium BC. It was the prime colouring agent used for white painted pottery at the beginning of the Neolithic on the Balkan Peninsula. Gradually, in the Late Neolithic, completely different decorative technique was introduced: white paste was applied on the outer or inner surface of the vessels. Further archaeometric studies will answer the question whether the raw material, the composition of the white pigment or only the method of preparation, depending on the type of decoration (paint or inlay), was changed.
This paper is focused on the archaeometric characterization of pigments used for different types of pottery decoration – incrustation or painting. More than 50 pottery sherds from 13 archaeological sites located in Western, Central and Eastern Bulgaria and dated back to the Neolithic and the Chalcolithic were analysed. A multi-analytical approach including different techniques was used for identifying the inorganic ingredients of the pigments. The main analysis is XRD (X-ray diffraction) considering that the white paste is made up of inorganic materials (minerals).


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