What is Prehistoric Archeology? – Part 2

What is Prehistoric Archeology? - Part 2

A few days ago, we posted here on the blog an article explaining what is prehistoric archeology and what materials were from that period; we talked especially about lithic stones, which are chipped and polished stones. And now, we’ll talk about another material that says a lot about the prehistory of Brazil: ceramics.

Ceramics are pots made of clay. Unlike our times when such pots are made on equipment called lathes, in prehistory they were made by hand. They were shaped with a kind of roller, then smoothed, and then fired in closed ovens. After being fired, the pottery was sometimes drawn on.

The different types existing in Brazil represent different cultures. Therefore, similar ceramics belong to similar cultures, which have similar forms of society. In general, the names of pottery are determined by the names of the linguistic trunks of the tribes. Examples of this are Tupi and Marajoara ceramics.

The study of these artifacts in the different regions where they are found helps us to understand the displacement of the groups that produced them. In some places they are dated to one period, and in other places to another. Then, a possible route that these humans passed is traced.

Ceramics are varied in shape, decoration and texture, and each characteristic helps determine which group they belonged to. Tree branches or even nails were used to create small marks and sequenced designs on ceramics.

From the edges of the ceramic it’s possible to reconstitute it completely through a drawing. Some archaeologists and other specialized professionals make these drawings by hand, others directly on the computer.

Once the sizes and shapes of ceramics are defined, it’s possible to study their functions. Some were used to store grain, others water. In addition, they were also used as funerary urns for primary and secondary burials. In the primaries, the dead were placed whole inside the urn in a fetal position; in the secondary ones, people were buried normally, and when only the bones were left, these bones were placed in a smaller burial urn.

As for the excavation of urns, generally, when found, they’re not processed at the excavation site, but in the laboratory. Then the dating and all necessary procedures are done.


We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about what is prehistoric archeology, and more specifically, ceramics!

What is Prehistoric Archeology? - Part 2
Ancient ceramics. Source: Unsplash.

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