Vasiliki Papakosta will defend her dissertation, " Early Pottery Use among Hunter-Gatherers around the Baltic Sea ", on October the 16th, at 13.00-15.00.

Opponent: Opponent Åsa Larsson, Riksantikvarieämbetet.

You can follow the dissertation via Zoom:

At 16.00 the Assessment committee will announce the decision on the candidate's public defence. You can follow the announcement via Zoom:


This thesis aims to provide an understanding of the dynamics underlying the adoption of pottery by pre-agrarian hunter-gatherer cultural groups around the Baltic Sea. The focus is on three approximately contemporaneous early pottery traditions of the region (ca. 5200–3900 cal BC); the Ertebølle (EBK) of southern Scandinavia (southern Sweden, Denmark) and northern Germany, the Narva of the eastern Baltic, and the Early Comb Ware (ECW) of north-eastern Fennoscandia. To develop knowledge about what ceramics in these traditions were used for, and whether intra- and/or inter-cultural variations occurred, EBK pottery material from Scania (southern Sweden) and Lolland (eastern Denmark), as well as material from ECW pottery sub-styles (Säräisniemi 1, Sperrings 1, and 2, Jäkärlä) from mainland Finland were selected from museum collections in the corresponding countries to be analyzed by means of lipid residue analysis. The use of the EBK pottery was compared to that of the contemporaneous Narva, to assess whether the typological similarities characterizing the two pottery traditions corresponded also to common functions. The comparison was conducted statistically by using the lipid residue data obtained by the author along with that previously published from Narva pottery assemblages in Estonia, and from EBK pottery assemblages from Denmark and northern Germany. The Finnish ECW pottery sub-styles were separately analyzed to assess spatio-temporal use variation.

Pottery use determinations were based on characterizations of food and non-food residues preserved in the ceramic matrix of the analyzed vessels, assisted by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The technique provided molecular separation and identification of the residues’ lipid (fatty) components. For determinations of higher resolution, molecular analysis was complemented with stable carbon isotope (δ13C) analysis of specific fatty acid compounds, using gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-c-IRMS). Lipid residues were extracted from the ceramic matrix by using a one-step acid-methanol extraction and derivatization protocol, whose high lipid recovery efficiency was, in this study, first proven on very high-age and very small pottery samples of the Japanese Incipient Jõmon culture (ca. 13,900–13,300 cal. BP).

The origin of the contamination detected in EBK samples from various sites in Scania, consisting of aromatic hydrocarbons that interfered with the extracted lipids during chromatographic analysis, and created problems with their quantification and isotopic determination, was investigated with multi-proxy compositional analysis of the samples’ clay fraction to identify any possible association with it. The analysis also revealed technological and social aspects of pottery production and use in the local EBK societies, corroborating and complementing knowledge from previous investigations on EBK ceramics of the same region.

The research results showed inter-cultural pottery-use variation, while on an intra-cultural scale pottery uses were rather homogeneous. Differences in the ranges of foodstuffs with the processing of which pottery use was associated cross-culturally suggest different food cultures among the hunter-gatherer cultural groups studied, which could further indicate different processes and motives for the uptake of pottery.