GRAPHTEC project. “Graphite”-Painted Pottery from the Neolithic/Chalcolithic Balkans: An Archaeometric Investigation of Ceramic Technology and Innovation in Prehistoric Europe

Graphite decoration on ceramic vessels is a distinctive phenomenon spread over most of the Balkans during the 5th millennium BC. However, mostly due to the lack of systematic technological investigations that include not only a wider range of sites, but also employ the variety of modern analytical methods, the emergence and development of this decorative technique for pottery remains unclear to this day. By focusing on Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic ceramic assemblages from different key archaeological sites in the Struma valley (Greece and Bulgaria) and its broader region, this interdisciplinary study aims to provide for the first time an innovative and original contribution to our understanding of the technology behind graphite decorated pottery and its network of circulation. Processes of adoption and transfer of technology and ideas are crucial concerns for present-day archaeology. Archaeological material cultures represent phenomena that have emerged through mechanisms of cultural transmission and specific learning activities, which are responsible for the diffusion of ideas over time and space. Therefore, their study allows to investigate cultural and economic networks amongst people, especially by looking at the underlying technological traits and abilities of social groups. Overall, by focusing on themes like innovation, processes of adoption, and transfer of technological knowledge, this project will provide a body of reference work not only for those studying pottery from the Prehistoric Balkans, but also for the broader archaeological community.