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Volume 1 – Issue 1 – 2021

Original Research Article

Pigments Used For The Decoration Of Anthropomorphic Clay Figurines And Ceramic Vessels Specific To Neolithic Cultures In Romania

Gheorghe Niculescu*, Andreea Bîrzu*

The National History Museum of Romania, (ROMANIA) 

PAGE NO: 55-65


Anthropomorphic figurines and clay vessels with red and white decoration are some of the most spectacular artifacts of the Neolithic period. Until now not many details were known about the pigments used by the prehistoric craftsmen to decorate such representations. By studying them we can build a better knowledge and understanding of Neolithic civilizations.

Regarding the white pigments, we started our study from the observations made by the archaeologists in the 60’s, who assumed, based on the high phosphorus content, that they could have been prepared from burned and crushed bones. This assumption was confirmed by X-ray diffraction analyses for Iron Age vessels. In the present study we choose to use the X-ray fluorescence method, which, beside being a non-destructive and non-invasive method, can also be applied in situ.
Based on the results, the pigments used have been determined and the artifacts where burned bones were used for decoration were identified.
16 pigment analyzes were performed on the surface of 7 figurines, 4 anthropomorphic vessels, and as well as on 5 ceramic fragments. The artifacts belong to Starčevo-Criş (Early Neolithic period, 6.600 – 5.500 BC), Boian and Vădastra (the beginning of Eneolithic period, first half of the 5th millennium BC) Neolithic cultures were discovered in some of the most notable archaeological sites in Romania, such as Şimnic, Vădastra, Hotărani, Vlădila, Cruşovu and Radovanu. These artifacts have a special historical value, constituting testimonies of the material and spiritual culture of the mentioned prehistoric communities.