AbstractIn Puglia, human representations on vessels were widespread from the Early Neolithic. Some of these have been interpreted as faces, but they could also be representations of the entire body complete with torso, arms and legs: these include some recently studied symbols from Grotta dei Cervi, which have been compared with others from Grotta delle Veneri, whose published descriptions are open to revision. From this starting point, the scope of the research was expanded to include all documented anthropomorphic symbols on Neolithic vessels from south-east Italy, taking account of their chronology, origin and context. It was possible to establish that in the sixth millennium BC, there were three different categories of human representation in Puglia: vessels decorated with human faces (face vessels), vessels decorated with whole-body human figures and vessels in the shape of human beings (anthropomorphic vessels). Some faces include all elements, while others have just some of them (e.g. the nose). In addition, some faces have extra elements such as bands or bundles of lines that can be interpreted as tattoos, beards, ornaments or clothes. The symbols may be representations of praying figures, dancers, high status or powerful members of the community, ancestors and even gods, who were tasked with either protecting the community or acting as an intermediary between the community offering the vessel and the deity of the underworld. This study examines the presence of these artefacts in settlements, caves and other cult sites, with the aim of describing this distinctive phenomenon that was particularly characteristic of Puglia during the Early Neolithic.
Open Archaeology – de Gruyter
Published: Aug 9, 2021
Keywords: anthropomorphic representations; face vessels; anthropomorphic vessels; Early and Middle Neolithic; south-east Italy