Neolithic Age: Pottery & Artifacts

Instructor: Joanna Harris

Joanna has taught high school social studies both online and in a traditional classroom since 2009, and has a doctorate in Educational Leadership

The Neolithic Age, when man learned to farm, was also marked by the establishment of the first civilizations as man settled down. To take a look at the artifacts early humans left to us from this period, read on.

The Neolithic Age

The last part of the Stone Age when man learned to farm and to domesticate animals is called the Neolithic Age. This time period began at different points across the globe. In the Near East it began in 9,000 BC. In southeastern Europe it began about 7,000 BC, but in northern Europe it began around 4,000 BC. Regardless of where in the world the age began one thing was clear - mankind had begun its trek out of prehistory and entered into a time of technology, innovation, and creation.

Image of Stonehenge, a megalith

Take, for example, the large stone artifact in England called Stonehenge. It took over 1,000 years to create, and its start and completion happened during the Neolithic Age. Without the ability to farm, mankind wouldn't have been able to settle down. And without the ability to settle down, mankind wouldn't have had the opportunity to create megaliths, or large stone monuments created during the Stone Age.

These megaliths are indicative of one of mankind's greatest creations - culture. Each Neolithic Age civilization had its own culture and, therefore, left things behind for us to discover that tell us about the lives its people lived and the communities they formed.

Neolithic Age Artifacts

Archaeologists, or those who study the remains of antiquity, have discovered artifacts from time periods dating back millions of years. From these artifacts we see the beginnings of religion, language, science, mathematics, and so much more. From the Neolithic Age, archaeologists have discovered the last vestiges of the Stone Age.

During this age, mankind would have looked for the things around him that were in abundance and could be used to create things of use. One of those things was clay, which is a special soil that is thick and quite malleable when wet so it can be formed into shapes. After being allowed to dry it will harden into that shape for later use.

Working with clay is a chemical process, as it involves many different kinds of synthesis, like using water to change the state from hard to soft and then using the air or oxygen to change the state again chemically from soft to hard, which can also be done with heat (another chemical process). The very first chemical synthesis used by mankind was in the working of clay to create pottery.

The remains of ornamental clay artifacts go all the way back to the Paleolithic Age, which itself dates back 2.5 million years ago. By the Neolithic Age, clay modelling in the form of pottery had taken on a life of its own. This pottery was used for religious rituals, for cooking, and for the bearing of water and foodstuffs. Pottery could also be used when eating, as in the creation of bowls.

The Development of Pottery

Though the development of farming and pottery are not necessarily simultaneous, archaeologists believe that the beginning of farming also facilitated the need for sturdy and solid objects for the carrying of water for irrigation. Large civilizations would have also needed to produce surpluses of grains like sorghum, rice, and wheat, and pottery would have been essential for storing these surpluses.

Here is a timeline for the development of pottery in Greece during the Neolithic Age as the technology involved in its creation improved alongside methods of agriculture:

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