Beyond Adornment: Cowry Use as Potter's Tool in the First Impressed Wares of the Southwestern Mediterranean Coast (Northern Morocco)

Martinez Sanchez, Rafael M.; Vera Rodriguez, Juan Carlos; Moreno Garcia, Marta; Perez Jorda, Guillem; Pena-Chocarro, Leonor; Bokbot, Youssef

VL / 13 - BP / 420 - EP / 437
The use of seashells for the decoration of pottery from the sixth millennium cal BC is well known in the western Mediterranean, with the emergence of so-called Cardial Pottery. Actually, the most discussed issue up until now has been the use of bivalves for impressed decoration. However, the experimental approach followed in the present study provides for the first time clear evidence for the utilization of a very specific group of shells as tools for the decoration of some of the early pottery productions in northwest Africa. In particular, we propose the use of cowry, a gastropod family with a well-known ideological and symbolic role in many human cultures around the world. Also, it is suggested that cowry was used for making impressed wares on the opposite European shore. The implications for reconstruction of Neolithic diffusion along both the European and African coasts of the Mediterranean are of great significance.

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