Production and function of Neolithic black-painted pottery from Schela Cladovei (Iron Gates, Romania)

  • Michela SpataroEmail author
  • Miriam Cubas
  • Oliver E. Craig
  • John C. Chapman
  • Adina Boroneanţ
  • Clive Bonsall
Original Paper


This paper presents for the first time the results of a combination of petrographic, geochemical and organic residue analyses of early Neolithic ceramics from the Iron Gates region of the Danube basin. Eleven early Neolithic potsherds from Schela Cladovei (Romania) were analysed in detail. The results of the petrographic analysis show that the ceramics were made with the same recipe that was used by Starčevo-Körös-Criș potters elsewhere in southeastern Europe. The SEM-EDX analysis shows one of the earliest uses of Mn-rich black pigments to decorate Neolithic European ceramics. Organic residue analyses detected dairy, non-ruminant and ruminant adipose fats. No evidence of aquatic resources was detected. In summary, the early Neolithic potters at the Iron Gates, although able to make coarse and more sophisticated painted ceramics, did not make specific vessels for a specific use.


Early Neolithic Polarised microscopy SEM-EDX GC-MS GC-c-IRMS Ceramic technology Pottery paint 



This article was made possible by the award of a DFG Mercator Fellowship to one of the authors (MS), thanks to Profs. Martin Furholt and Johannes Müller (Christian-Albrechts University, Kiel, Germany), and Prof. Berit Eriksen (Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology, Schleswig, Germany), who are the PIs of the CRC1266 “Scales of Transformation” subproject F5 “Social Dimensions of Technological Change”. MS would also like to deeply thank Drs. Petra Herms and Peter Raase (Dept. of Petrology and Geodynamics, Christian-Albrechts University) for all their generous help in the discussion of geological inclusions and for allowing access to the geology department and their facilities, in particular the polarised microscope, and for making her feel at home. MS would also like to thank Prof. Carl Heron (Department of Scientific Research, The British Museum, London, UK) for allowing her to use the department’s SEM-EDX in her spare time to analyse these samples. Her deep thanks are also due to Dr. Joanne Dyer (Department of Scientific Research, The British Museum, London, UK) for kindly discussing pigments, Dr. Jutta Kneisel (Christian-Albrechts University, Kiel) for generously sharing her thoughts on her experimental pottery production, to Dr. Cristian Eduard Ştefan (“Vasile Pârvan” Institute of Archaeology, Romanian Academy, Bucharest) for providing the geological maps of the area, Prof. Bogdan Constantinescu (National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering, Bucharest) and Mr. Nigel Meeks (Dept. of Scientific Research, The British Museum, London) for the helpful discussion and help with the formatting of the figures.

JCC would like to thank the University of Newcastle upon Tyne for covering research expenses relating to his study of the Schela Cladovei pottery from the Boroneant/Bonsall excavations.

CB thanks the British Academy, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, and the University of Edinburgh (Munro Fund and Hayter Fund) for the financial support during the 1992–1996 excavations at Schela Cladovei.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michela Spataro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Miriam Cubas
    • 2
  • Oliver E. Craig
    • 2
  • John C. Chapman
    • 3
  • Adina Boroneanţ
    • 4
  • Clive Bonsall
    • 5
  1. 1.British MuseumLondonUK
  2. 2.BioArChUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  3. 3.Department of ArchaeologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  4. 4.Vasile Pârvan’ Institute of Archaeology, Romanian AcademyBucharestRomania
  5. 5.University of Edinburgh, School of History, Classics and ArchaeologyEdinburghUK

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