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Overall presentation of the project

Western Mediterranean Impressed Wares: An interdisciplinary research on Early Neolithic Pottery (6th millennium Cal BCE): Sourcing, Production, Uses and Transfers

As a contribution to the the « Creation, cultures and cultural heritage” topic, this 42 months project has the overall objective to unravel the processes and skills related to pottery production and uses, and then contribute to identify transfers and cultural links within the frame of the Early Neolithic diffusion across the NW Mediterranean. It therefore combines archaeological and experimental approaches to geological, geochemical, physical, chemical, and materials engineering.

Across NW Mediterranean, Early Neolithic development and peopling seem to have resulting of a leapfrog-like seafaring spread of pioneers groups supposed to be originating from the SE Italian Impressed-Ware core. A rather short span of time has been spent for this transfer, if one considers the earliest evidences of farmers settlements in the Apulia core (ca. 6000 BCE), and the earliest ones along the NW Mediterranean coast (ca. 5800 BCE).
One of the main locks up for understanding the transfer processes is to identify reliable traditions among a huge diversity of pottery styles. What does such diversity reveal? Could it be linked to different degrees of Mesolithic mixing? Could it be linked to successive split and drift of small groups of settlers? What does it tell us about the social forms of the first agro-pastoral communities? This project has the ambition to reduce part of these questions while considering not only stylistic aspects but the whole pottery “technical subsystem”, using an integrative and multi-scale methodology. The latter considers the whole aspects of the chaînes opératoires from sourcing to shaping and use.
In this perspective, research will first focus on the Ligurian Sea before running comparisons with the Mediterranean Languedoc and the SE Italian core. The choice of the Ligurian l.s. atelier is due to 5 main reasons: (1) it provides a rather dense network of Early Neolithic settlements with a significant part dated to the first step of the pioneer spread at 5800-5600 BCE; (2) major sites provide new and consistent data, clear contexts and abundant pottery sets thanks to recent excavations; (3) among the available sites, pottery styles variability is very high and offers a perfect case study for understanding cultural vs. chronological or functional diversity; (4) the geological background is of great help for an accurate sourcing of coarse pottery pastes; the latter are often made from crystalline rock alterations and constitute a large part of the earliest Neolithic kits; (5) for a part of these pastes and pots, the questions asked by shaping, finishing and firing techniques are quite challenging, as well as the questions of related potters’ knowledge and skills.
Research will be organised within 6 work-packages. WP1 will organize research, teaching and dissemination tasks under the control of a Scientific Board. Research will be dedicated to: contextual assessments and series sampling (WP2); raw materials characterisation running innovative mineralogical and geochemical methods applied for the first time to archaeological and sourcing contexts (WP3); characterisation of shaping and firing methods correlating mechanical and chemical properties and experimental sources (WP4); innovative and risky research in the field of bio-molecular and isotopic analytical archaeology enabling to widely improve knowledge on pottery uses (WP5). Synthesizing tasks (WP6) will then allow discussing Early NW Mediterranean Neolithic networks and traditions in a holistic perspective.
In addition to peer-reviewed papers, the deliverables of this project will include a web-site, master trainings and PhD, bi-annual seminars and conclusive symposium and exhibition.
The lab consortium groups 36 academic members of French Joint Research Units (UMR) and 10 Italian specialists of the scientific field. Its main advantage consists in the close collaborative experience the partners already shared through research and teaching interdisciplinary projects.

Context, position and objectives of the proposal

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Fig. 1.

This project has the overall objective to unravel the processes and skills related to pottery production and uses, and then contribute to identify transfers and cultural links within the frame of the Impressed-Ware Neolithic diffusion throughout the Western Mediterranean. It therefore combines archaeological and experimental approaches to geological, geochemical, physical, chemical, and materials engineering.

Pottery studies constitute a fundamental and tremendous field for understanding human trajectories and for tracing the history and improvement of techniques all over the world (knowledge of materials processing, pyro-technology for instance). Pottery making appeared in Eastern Asia at the end of Late Pleistocene and in Africa at the Early Holocene within hunter-gatherers societies (e.g. SHELACH, 2012), but acquired a huge importance since the Neolithic period in the South-western Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean area during the early 7th millennium BCE for utilitarian, technical uses as well as for symbolic significance (HODDER Ed., 2010; PERLÈS, VITELLI, 1994). Then, pottery styles (SACKETT, 1977) and traditions (ROSEN, ROUX, 2009; ROUX, 2012) are markers of population movements, cultural interactions, life styles, settlement patterning and technological innovation.
Across the North-Western Mediterranean, Early Neolithic farmers and herders development has resulted of the fast spread of pioneers groups from eastern origin. Human mobility is demonstrated by recent results concerning human (LACAN et al, 2011a, 2011b; GAMBA et al, submitted) as well as animal genetics (EDWARDS et al, 2004; FERNANDEZ et al, 2006). Early western Neolithic belongs to the Impressed-Ware (or Impresso-Cardial) complex, supposed to be originating from a South-Eastern Italian core. The leapfrog-like distribution of western settlements suggests that Neolithic groups bypassed regions where Mesolithic hunters-gatherers were still settled as demonstrated by a set of radiocarbon dates (e.g. High-Adriatic and Pô plain, Tosco-Emilian Apennine, Rhodanian areas of Provence and Languedoc).
The span of time spent is rather short between the earliest evidences of Farmers settlements in the Dalmatia and Apulia cores (ca. 6000 cal BCE) and the earliest ones along the North-western Mediterranean coast (Liguria, Provence, Languedoc, ca. 5800 cal BCE): seafaring is demonstrated by the trade of insular obsidian (Lipari, Fig.1, 9; Palmarola, Fig.1, 24; in a lesser extend Monte Arci, Fig.1, 25) within the earliest Western Neolithic contexts (e.g. Arene Candide, Fig.1, 30; Peyrosignado, Fig.1, 34; Pont-de-Roque-Haute, Fig.1, 35) as within most of the earliest Apulian and Calabrian sites (BINDER, 2000, 2013; BINDER et al, 2012; BINDER, GUILAINE, 1999; FORENBAHER et al., 2013; GUILAINE, 2001; GUILAINE et al., 2007; MANEN et al., 2014; PERRIN et al., 2013; TINÉ Ed., 2009).

Among the crucial central questions, one concerns Early Western Mediterranean Pottery variability and traditions. Despite a reduced span of time (ca. 2 centuries), the first aspects of Impresso-cardial pottery are quite various. Considering only decoration, it is fairly difficult to recognize evolution stages and/or technical traditions. From that point, the cultural situation highly differs from the Linearbandkeramik context where the evolution of pottery styles and traditions can be followed step by step from the original core (i.e. Balaton area, Hungary) onto the France and Belgium for instance (GOMART, 2012).
Even during the very first stage of the Western Impressed-Ware complex formation in Adriatic (between 6000 and 5800 cal BCE), radiocarbon dates do not enable to clearly separate very diverse typological aspects, as Archaic (e.g. Pulo di Molfetta, Fig.1, 18; Favella, Fig.1, 11), Stentinello (e.g. Piana di Curinga, Fig.1, 10) or Guadone (e.g. Defensola, Fig.1, 22; Rippa Tetta, Fig.1, 20) whose definitions are mainly based on decoration techniques: tools used for impressions (i.e. shell, stab and drag / a sequenza, finger nail, micro-rocker…); structured vs. unstructured syntax; presence vs. absence of slipped and painted wares…) (CIPOLLONI et al., 1999).
Similar questions have to be asked further to the Northwest among the few sites spread between 5800 and 5600 cal BCE along the littoral, from the Tuscan archipelago, Liguria and Eastern Provence, onto Mediterranean Languedoc. Decorative techniques and syntaxes allow separating at least 3 aspects for a rather short period of time: Arene Candide / Caucade / Peyrosignado (Fig.1, 30-33-34); Pendimoun (Fig. 1, 32); Pont-de-Roque-Haute (Fig. 1, 35) (BINDER, 1995; GUILAINE et al., 2007; MANEN, GUILAINE, 2010). In addition East Liguria and Tuscany early potteries (e.g. Suvero, Pian di Ceretto, Pianosa; Fig. 2, 9) offer distinctive styles whose relations with Impressed-Wares are still controversial (MAGGI, 1983; WEISS, TOZZI, 2001).
Last but not least, very few is known about the technological traditions and comparisons between the South-east, were fine wares are common, and the North-west, where coarse potteries are rather exclusive, are not yet studied.

**Objectives, originality and novelty of the project

What does such pottery diversity reveal? Could it be linked to different degrees of assimilation of Mesolithic components within the first farmers’ technical systems? Could it be linked to successive split and drift of small groups of settlers? What does it tell us about the social forms of the first agro-pastoral communities?

This project has the ambition to reduce part of these questions while considering not only the classical stylistic aspects (shape, decoration), but the whole pottery “technical subsystem” (e.g. PERLÈS 1987) using an integrative and multi-scale methodology.

The first topic of the project is to deal with the diversity of the earliest Neolithic pottery production from Liguria as a case study and to build a model. The interest of this area (Fig. 2) is that we have the benefit of recent excavations which provided important and well dated reference series for the W.-Mediterranean earliest Neolithic, and for which several aspects of typological and technological studies have been already performed (Cf. infra 1.2). In addition, Liguria and High-Tyrrhenian offer original geological backgrounds favouring the characterization of discrete mineral resource, as well as geographical constraints favouring the modelling of circulation and transfers. The second topic will be to run comparisons with selected settlements from the Impressed-Ware core area (S.-E. Italy) and from areas where similar pioneer settlements have been identified (i.e. Mediterranean Languedoc).
The conditions offered in Liguria sensu lato (between the Gapeau and the Arno rivers) are particularly suitable for extending our knowledge of the Early Neolithic societies, but moreover, the common effort provided on this case study has the ambition to improve several methodological aspects of pottery studies (i.e. sourcing, building, finishing and firing methods, use-wears and contents) thanks to an interdisciplinary approach. Our team proposes to develop a systemic approach for correlating choices in raw material procurement, paste mixing, shaping methods and uses, in the perspective of characterizing cultural entities and transfers from the territorial scale to the inter-cultural spheres, movements of people, raw-material, pots and ideas.

Among the most innovating aspects to be dealt, we can pinpoint the question of pots made of highly tempered pastes and especially coarse ones made with crystalline non-plastic as granitic, metamorphic and volcanic ones.

These materials offer many interests in the frame of this project:

  • They are often abundant, and even exclusive, within most of the Early Neolithic series in Liguria, Provence, Tuscany as well as Corsica, Sardinia, Mediterranean Languedoc, Abruzzi, Campania, Calabria ...
  • They offer possibilities of accurate sourcing using mineralogical and geochemical methods, in order to understand territoriality and transfers. Considering their specificity and potential localisation, they ask questions about the knowledge and management of this mineral resource during the Neolithic times.
  • For a significant part of them, questions concerning specific shaping, finishing and firing techniques employed are quite challenging, as well as the questions of correlated potters’ knowledge and skills. The latter is asked for a part of the crystalline pastes which appear today to have major defaults of plasticity compared to most of the usual clayey pastes.
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Fig. 2.

The study of these productions presents a high heuristic potential for tracking (i) technical and cultural traditions, (ii) land-use pattern of the first agro-pastoral population and (iii) and transfers at different scales including trade.
We have identified main methodological challenging issues:

  • Debating cultural sense of pottery paste mixtures including technical vs. functional
  • Improving sourcing methods
  • Improving knowledge on pottery shaping and firing sequences and related skills
  • Improving knowledge on mineral and organic components interfaces
  • Improving functional interpretations
  • Modelling trade and/or cultural transfers In consequence such an interdisciplinary study could lead to a significant improvement of the state of the art in Humanities and Social or Environmental sciences (i.e. Prehistory, Archaeometry). Moreover, some aspects of the archaeological questions are able to challenge fundamental aspects in Natural sciences, e.g. in geochemistry (Cf. infra Work-Package 3) or at the interface of distinct fields, chemistry vs. materials engineering for instance (Cf. infra Work-Packages 4-5). Results will be published in international journals. The final report will be presented and discussed throughout a scientific workshop organized under the auspices of the “Société Préhistorique Française” and the “Société Géologique de France”. Master courses and PhD training shall be articulated within the frame of this program. An exhibition will be also organized.

**State of the art

Recent syntheses and reference papers that concern Western-Mediterranean Neolithisation have been provided by BARNETT, 2000; BERNABEU, MOLINA BALAGUER, 2009; BERNABEU et al., 2003; BERNABEU et al., Ed., 2011; BIAGI Ed., 1990; BIAGI et al, 1993; BIAGI, VOYTEK, 1994; BINDER, 2000; BINDER, 2013; BINDER, GUILAINE, 1999; BINDER, MAGGI, 2001; CIPOLLONI et al., 1994; FOREHNBAHER et al., 2013; GUILAINE, 2001; GUILAINE et al., Ed., 2007; MANEN, 2002; ZILHAO, 2001. One of the principal question to solve concerns the improvement of high resolution chronology as well as a better definition of cultural entities, using ceramic assemblages for instance (e.g. MANEN et al., Ed., 2010)

Recent excavations have been realized in Liguria and High-Tyrrhenian Neolithic at the major stratified sites of Finale Ligure - Arene Candide cave (Savona) and Castellar - Pendimoun rock shelter (Alpes-Maritimes).
Arene Candide studies are directed by Roberto MAGGI who published a complete reassessment of Luigi BERNABO-BREA work (MAGGI Ed., 1997) and then carried out new excavations from 1997 to 2012.
Pendimoun studies are directed by Didier BINDER who published results of the first field work (BINDER et al, 1993) and then carried out more extensive excavations from 1997 to 2006.
Both excavations provided new sets of detailed cultural and proxy data, covering the whole Early Neolithic development till the end of the Early Squared Mouth Pottery phases (i.e. from the early 6th to the mid-5th millennium cal BCE). Collective interdisciplinary research on both sites is led within the ETICALP Project, under the auspices of the French ministry of Culture directed by Didier BINDER, 2008-2014.
Both settlements are known as principal references for the Liguria and High-Tyrrhenian neolithisation and Neolithic evolution as well as reference for discussing the Early Neolithic cultural diversity at a larger scale (see for instance GUILAINE et al.,l Ed., 2007).
In addition the team has access to important open-air settlement series along the liguro-provençal coasts (Caucade in the Alpes-Maritimes excavated by Didier BINDER ; Pianaccia di Suvero in Eastern Liguria, excavated by Roberto MAGGI) as well as in Tuscany and its archipelago (Pian di Ceretto in Northern Tuscany and Pianosa island, both excavated by Carlo TOZZI).
One of the major locks to solve is the apparent deep dissemblance of those pottery sets; this issue requires a systematic examination of Liguria and High-Tyrrhenian productions (Provence, Liguria, Tuscany and Tuscan archipelago) as well as accurate comparisons with contemporary sets (Mediterranean Languedoc, South-Eastern Italy), thanks to Claude ALBORE-LIVADIE, Jean GUILAINE, Italo MUNTONI, Giovanna RADI and Carlo TOZZI agreements.

Central and Western Mediterranean Early Neolithic pottery has already been the subject of many reference papers, concerning style and some technological aspects, for Greece (VITELLI, 1993, PERLÈS, VITELLI, 1994), Mediterranean Spain (BERNABEU, 1989; BERNABEU et al., Ed., 2011; MCCLURE, 2004; MCCLURE, BERNABEU, 2006), Languedoc (BARNETT, 1989; BARNETT, 2000; MANEN, 2002; MANEN in GUILAINE et al., Ed, 2007; CONVERTINI, BRUXELLES in GUILAINE et al., Ed, 2007), Southern Italy and Adriatic (SPATARO, 2002; SPATARO, 2009; MUNTONI, 2003; MUNTONI, 2009; MUNTONI in TINÉ, 2009; NATALI in TINÉ, 2009), Central Italy (MARTINI et al., 1996; GRIFONI CREMONESI, 1996), Tyrrhenian islands (PAOLINI-SAEZ, 2002), Italy as a whole (FUGAZZOLA-DELPINO et al., ED., 2002) as well as in Ligurian-Provençal area (BINDER Ed., 1991; BINDER, 1995; BINDER, SÉNÉPART, 2010; ECHALLIER, COURTIN, 1994B; MAGGI, STARNINI in MAGGI Ed., 1997). Nevertheless few data are available concerning shaping methods and some results are controversial (e.g. shaping methods within the Impressa levels of Pendimoun could evoke stretching methods or beating techniques if not slab constructions).
In the latter area, paste characterizations using thin sections were run at Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey - Lombard cave (ECHALLIER in BINDER Ed., 1991), Fontbrégoua (ECHALLIER, COURTIN, 1994A), Arene Candide (CAPELLI et al., 2006A; CAPELLI et al, 2006B, 2007), Caucade (MANEN et al., 2006, CONVERTINI, 2010) and Pendimoun (GABRIELE, PhD thesis, in progress). Fabien CONVERTINI recently wrote a review concerning provenience studies in the Western Mediterranean (CONVERTINI, 2010). Marzia GABRIELE current PhD covers a large set of Early Neolithic settlements from Corsica to Tuscany and from Eastern Liguria to Eastern Provence. At Arene Candide, the pottery sets from old and new excavations are studied altogether on a typological and technological point of view by Chiara PANELLI (PhD, in progress, co-advisors R. MAGGI and D. BINDER). One of the greatest challenges concerns the improvement of sourcing accuracy in order to define the range of territory exploitation as well as transfers or trade.
A general challenging issue also concerns the improvement of the analysis of pottery styles using a common language and pertinent statistics (e.g. MANEN 2000).

In Eastern Provence, Liguria and High-Tyrrhenian, coarse crystalline pottery pastes have already been studied thanks to petrographic thin sections (Cf. ref. supra). Observations already demonstrated that most of the Early Neolithic settlements used earths with a high of very high amount of non-plastic mineral particles coming from volcanic, volcano-sedimentary or metamorphic contexts, in variable proportion. This use is very significant during the Impressa stage (e.g. Giglio Island, Arene Candide, San-Sebastiano di Perti, Castellar - Pendimoun, Nice - Caucade), probably less within the following Cardial (e.g. Salernes – Fontbrégoua, Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey – Lombard, Castellar – Pendimoun, Cavalaire-sur-Mer – Centre-Ville) and appears for instance again during the Bronze Age (e.g. Vence – grotte des Poteries; ECHALLIER, 1987) and La Tène period in Eastern Provence.

Different papers or ongoing works have pushed the hypothesis of significant movements of this kind of pots: from the Alpes-Maritimes towards the Hérault district (CONVERTINI, BRUXELLES in GUILAINE et al Ed., 2007; MANEN, CONVERTINI, 2012), from Eastern Liguria towards Western Liguria (CAPELLI, STARNINI et al, 2006, 2007), throughout the whole Provence hinterland or throughout the Tosco-Latium area and islands (GABRIELE, in progress). This has to be studied and interconnected at a larger scale.

Crystalline pastes present characters which are very distinctive from clayey mixtures the most commonly used for pottery and especially from plastic or very plastic clays in use throughout the Early Neolithic Apulian core. There is a huge gap between, on one hand, this coarse pottery characterized by a heavy mineral charge without any or with few evidence of clay binder at the microscopic scale and, on the other hand, productions made of almost « pure » clays coming from alluvial deposits with a reduced temper addition, as vegetal for example, convenient for high temperature firing and/or backing. These contrasts can refer to different sets of knowledge and skills and to different social contexts of production, i.e. different degrees of specialism. Some studies (e.g. ECHALLIER, 1987, 1991; MANEN et al., 2006; CONVERTINI, 2010, GABRIELE, in progress) have already identified granites as possible sources for some of these pots.

Very recent examinations of thin sections by Jean-Marc LARDEAUX and Chrystèle VERATI as well as scientific internal workshops between archaeologists and geologists have identified new issues for improving Liguria and High-Tyrrhenian crystalline rock sourcing using mineralogical/micro-structural criteria and geochemical methods:

  • Identification of mylonitic structures in the source geo-material, precisely: banded micro-structures with ribbon quartz and broken/ rotated feldspar grains, dynamic re-crystallizations textures in quartz and feldspars (involving wavy extinctions, sub-grains formation and rotation, grain-boundaries migration leading grains-size reduction), kink-bands development and new grains formation in micas, mica-fishes textures. All these observations suggest mylonitized granites as possible sources. Mylonites formed only in ductile shear zones (see reviews in RAMSAY, 1980; RAMSAY, ALLISON, 1979; BERTHÉ et al., 1979; COBBOLD, 1977; POIRIER, 1980; RAMSAY, HUBER, 1987), which are by definition localized in space and time in the continental crust. At the scale of the Western Mediterranean, ductile shear zones have been studied since more than three decades and carefully mapped at different scales. Therefore this new hypothesis of mylonitized granites as geo-material sources enables to significantly improve the definition of the initial geological contexts.
  • Moreover these geo-materials (i.e. mylonitized granites) are perfectly adapted for running geochemical methods enable to precisely define ages of the initial geological materials. Indeed 40Ar/ 39Ar geochronology, applied to micas and feldspars, has successfully been attempted to constrain mylonitization ages (JOURDAN et al., 2014; KELLEY, 1988; GOODWINN, RENNE, 1991; SANCHEZ et al., 2011). In the Western Mediterranean, granites as well as ductile shear zones were formed during two orogenic cycles, Variscan and Alpine (ROLLAND et al., 2012). During Variscan times, in the area of interest granites and ductile shear zones are dated at (1) 340-330 M.y., (2) 310-290 M.y (see synthesis in CARMIGNANI et al., 1994; LARDEAUX et al., 1994; DI VICENZO et al., 2004; CORSINI et al., 2004, 2010; CORSINI, ROLLAND, 2009; ROSSI et al., 2009, SCHNEIDER et al., 2014). On the other hand, in the Alpine cycle, ductile shear zones are dated are dated at (1) 55-45 M.y., (2) 33-20 M.y., (3) 18- 10 M.y. (see discussions in MONIÉ, MALUSKI, 1983; VANOSSI et al., 1984; CORTESOGNO, VANOSSI 1985; KLIEGFIELD et al., 1986; JOLIVET et al., 1998; CORSINI et al., 2004; SIMON-LABRIC et al., 2009; SANCHEZ et al., 2010; MAGGI et al., 2012, LARDEAUX, 2014). Provided that the firing and cooking of pots were of no effect upon the isotopic closure of the considered minerals, 40Ar/ 39Ar geochronology, associated with mineralogical and micro-structural investigations, offers a new and powerful approach for improving sourcing methods.

Integrated technological pottery studies did progress thanks to the benefit of ethno-archaeological data, frequently convoked jointly to archaeological data for understanding different aspects of the technical processes, styles or functions (e.g. BALFET, 1991; BALFET et al., 1971; GALLAY, 1986; GOSSELAIN, 2001, 2002, 2010; GOSSELAIN, LIVINGSTONE-SMITH, 2005; LIVINGSTONE-SMITH, 2000; SHEPARD, 1956; RICE, 1987; RYE, 1988; ROUX, CORBETTA, 1990; VAN DOSSELAERT, OBERWEILER, 2006; VITELLI, 1993).
The reasons of technical choices in raw material collecting and pottery paste recipes are still a very controversial question as ethnographic situations demonstrate most of the time small scale cultural traditions (GOSSELAIN, 2010; GOSSELAIN, LIVINGSTONE-SMITH, 2005). Raw material characterizations are broadly developed, using chemical analysis (e.g. SCHMITT et al, 2009), petrography (e.g. CONVERTINI in GUILAINE et al., Ed., 2007; CONVERTINI, 2010) or both (e.g. MAGETTI, MESSIGA, 2006; MARTINEAU et al, 2007; MUNTONI, 2009; SPATARO, 2009). Methods for shaping reconstruction are often empiric, using rarely specific methodology as radiography (e.g. PIERRET, 1994, 1995; VANDIVER, 1987) or micromorphology (COURTY, ROUX, 1995). Understanding prehistoric building methods requires connecting archaeological research to Material Engineering knowledge and methodology (e.g. better understanding adherence and adhesion processes; DARQUE-CERETTI, FELDER, 2003; GAILLARD et al., 2011, 2013; HORGNIES et al., 2011). On the other hand, finishing techniques (LEPERE, 2012, 2014), firing (MARTINEAU, PÉTREQUIN, 2000), use-wear (VIEUGUÉ, 2010, 2012) or functional studies based on content residues are still rather rare. Thereby, there is still a great interest developing experimental research concerning the shaping techniques (coiling; slab construction; TCA: tamper and concave anvil techniques; moulding...) as well as the finishing, firing and post-firing treatments. One main issue consists in understanding both the range of the possible technical practises for various pastes mixings, and to evaluate the visibility of different techniques used for different kind of mixings.

Functional analysis of pots significantly progressed during the last 20 years, thanks to the development of chemical analysis of lipid residues trapped inside their walls. One lock is due to the separation of the different factors at the origin of the organic deposits on pots, as post-deposit additions, repairing tars and glues, organic additives used for the building, finishing or repairing processes, markers associated to the “real” use(s) of the pots related to culinary, medicinal, technical, transport and symbolic activities; the second lock is linked to our insufficient knowledge of alteration processes within different sediment or soil contexts.
Detection and identification of the organic substances still preserved at the surface or in the porous clay matrix of pottery vessels is a very challenging task in archaeology. Indeed, the lack of any characteristic morphology of organic residues, their low yield of preservation and their unknown complex molecular composition make the determination of their nature and origin particularly difficult. Until now, most of the research focused on lipid and terpenoid compounds (EVERSHED, 2008; EVERSHED et al., 2008; MIRABAUD et al., 2007; REGERT 2004, 2007, 2011; REGERT, MIRABAUD, in press) even though a few attempts for the study of proteins have to be mentioned (CRAIG et al., 2000; EVERSHED, TUROSS 1996; SOLAZZO et al., 2008). In the frame of CIMO, preliminary positive results have already been provided during those last months by Léa DRIEU while detecting organic material preserved within the Lombard cave series dated from the Cardial phase.

The complementary of skills combined in this project should greatly improve our understanding of pottery function in relation with the raw materials used and the manufacture process at the beginning of the Neolithic in the region of interest. In sum, integrated studies articulating acquisition devices, building methods and functional analysis have rarely been run for Neolithic contexts (with the exception of studies directed by Pierre PÉTREQUIN in Chalain and Clairvaux Middle and late Neolithic lake settlements or by Marion LICHARDUS and Laure SALANOVA at the early Neolithic village of Kovačevo).
Considering Western Mediterranean, new issues have been promoted thanks to the Project “Premières sociétés paysannes de Méditerranée occidentale. Structures des productions céramiques” directed by Claire MANEN and Fabien CONVERTINI under the auspices of the French ministries of Culture and of High Education and Research (MANEN, CONVERTINI et al., Ed., 2010). The current application is positioned as a continuation of the latter

Scientific and technical programme, project organisation

**Scientific programme and project structure

This program is built thanks to a set of 6 major Work-Packages (abridged as WP1 to WP6) divided in several related Tasks, as following.
Research will concern 3 ateliers. Within the Liguria and High-Tyrrhenian atelier we will tend to an extended examination of Early Impressed-Ware series and correlated geo-resource. Mediterranean Languedoc atelier will focus on both Portiragnes sites (Pont-de-Roque-Haute, Fig.1, 34; Peyrosignado, Fig.1, 35). South-Eastern Italian atelier will extend comparisons to Puglia (Pulo-di-Molfetta, Fig.1, 18; Rippa-Tetta, Fig.1, 20), Basilicate (Trasano, Fig.1, 13; Trasanello), Abbruzi (Colle San-Stefano, Fig.1, 26) and Campania (Starza d’Ariano Irpino, Fig.1, 23). The access to these series is guaranteed thanks to the active participation of the archaeologists who were in charge of excavations.
Fig. 3.

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