Vasiliki Papakosta disputerar på avhandlingen Early pottery use among hunter-gatherers around the Baltic.

Opponent Åsa Larsson, Riksantikvarieämbetet.

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Vasiliki’s research investigates the factors underlying the decision of hunter-gatherer communities around the Baltic Sea to adopt pottery. In this region, different styles of pottery emerged within distinct geographical territories, each ascribed to a distinct archaeological culture. These different pottery styles emerged almost simultaneously, and their development was somewhat delayed when compared with pottery-using groups in neighboring areas of Central and Eastern Europe. The adoption of pottery in the Baltic Sea context is puzzling because it does not seem to have accompanied a change in the subsistence strategies of those communities. What purpose did ceramics serve for these communities if it was not used for the processing and handling of agricultural products, with which pottery has traditionally been associated? Was it connected to a specific resource that hunter-gatherers had used for subsistence (e.g., aquatic products)? Was the motivation to adopt pottery similar across these communities? Did pottery use vary within and between these hunter-gatherer cultures? Were typological similarities between different pottery styles a reflection of similar uses? By focusing on three pottery styles, the Ertebølle in the southwest Baltic, the Narva of Estonia, and the Early Comb Ware of Finland, Vasiliki’s dissertation attempts to answer these questions by compiling the results of molecular and stable carbon isotope analyses of pottery lipid residue. Further, the dissertation applies geochemical analyses of pottery samples for the purpose of determining the origin of the contamination detected in some of the study’s material, which further elucidates technical and social aspects of ceramic production.