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D'Ercole, Giulia; Garcea, Elena A. A.; Eramo, Giacomo; Muntoni, Italo M. (2017): Variability and continuity of ceramic manufacturing of prehistoric pottery from Upper Nubia, Sudan: An ethnographic comparison. In: Journal of Archaeological Science-Reports, Vol. 16: pp. 553-563
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In Upper Nubia (currently northern Sudan), the art of making pottery has a very ancient and durable tradition, dating back to the early Holocene and preceding the introduction of a food-producing economy. Ethnographic case studies have demonstrated that this tradition has been preserved in many areas of the country. This paper presents a comparative study of ancient and modern traditional ceramics from four prehistoric sites at Sai Island, in the river Nile, and a present-day workshop located in the nearby village of Abri. The aim of the study was to investigate any diachronic changes in the selection of clayey raw material and the technological processes of the manufacturing sequence. The study combined macroscopic and analytical approaches and examined a large set of ceramic and local clay samples by means of petrographic (OM), mineralogical (X-ray powder diffraction;XRPD) and chemical (X-ray fluorescence;XRF) analyses. The resulting data underline a remarkable continuity in raw material sourcing and composition, as well as in many technological processes, from the ceramic assemblages dating from Abkan cultural horizon (c. 5500 BCE) until to the present-day production in Abri. This continuity emerged after a preceding discontinuity, indicated by a different selection of clay raw material and tempers in the oldest production dating to the Khartoum Variant horizon (c. 7600-4800 BCE).