Pottery in the Palæolithic Period


    FURTHER evidence on the disputed question of the occurrence of pottery in the later phases of the palaeolithic period was brought forward by Mr. J. P. T. Burchell at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries held on October 28. Pottery has now been found by him on several sites in the Thames Valley in circumstances which, he maintains, warrant a dating in Upper Palæolithic times. At a site in the Bean Valley, Kent, which he has excavated recently, pottery occurs between the fourth and the fifth of a series of seven separate deposits of windborne loams. Of these deposits the lowest and oldest is linked with the glacial deposit on which it lies. The first four deposits in the series contain no sign of man, but with the pottery between the fourth and fifth deposits were bones and implements. It has been suggested that the pottery belongs to the bronze age, but Mr. Burchell maintains that the absence of any evidence of a mesolithic culture in the lower beds precludes that view. He relies further on the evidence of the occurrence of the extinct shell Helicella striata in beds 2–4. This shell has not been recognized as occurring after the Upper Palaeolithic period. Collateral evidence which possibly may appear more convincing was obtained at Springhead, in the Ebbsfleet Valley, Kent. Here implements similar to those found in the Bean Valley, as well as those found at Ipswich, with the pottery for which Mr. Reid Moir claims a palaeolithic age, were found in an unworn condition in a gravel bed underlying alluvium and peat and resting on a glacial bed. On top of the gravel occurred a large number of scrapers of a type not hitherto recognized and showing marked eolithic characters. These were striated, presumably by floating ice or the movements of semi-frozen material, indicating that the implements, and therefore, presumably, the pottery, dated from before the last glacial manifestation ; in other words, that both pottery and implements belonged to Upper Palaeolithic times.

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    Pottery in the Palæolithic Period. Nature 140, 800–801 (1937). https://doi.org/10.1038/140800c0

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