Station: [203] Pottery Deposit

Just like the well finds from Eythra, the pots in this display case are very precious because they help us appreciate the skills and aesthetic sensibility of Neolithic people. They show how they valued each one of their pots, despite the large numbers that were produced.  Linear decorations were not only incised into the clay; they were also applied to the exterior surface in raised form using bark straps. Birch tar was used as glue, which is already familiar to us from the Neanderthal workshops.  You can see two pots decorated in this way on the two stands at the front.

However, there’s more to observe than just these elaborate organic material decorations; many of the vessels have also been repaired. Broken vessels were glued with birch tar so they could be re-used.  A broken handle, for example, could be mended this way, or a missing piece of container could be patched with a piece taken from another broken vessel that was presumably past mending, and the hole closed up again.

It’s amazing how complete these water vessels, bottles, bowls and other containers from this ensemble were, when they were found.  This is a pottery deposit from a well that was found in Altscherbitz in North Saxony. The vessels may have been deposited in the well shaft as part of a ritual for closing the well, and they were still intact at the time. Afterwards, though, the well was filled up and the vessels were crushed by the weight of the earth that lay on top of them for thousands of years. But why were they placed here?  Were these Neolithic people engaging in cult activities around the veneration of water?