Neolithic pottery from Kouveleiki cave B in Laconia

The assemblage of Late and Final Neolithic pottery from Kouveleiki cave B consists of a large number of fragments from coarse fabric vessels. In terms of shapes, they include a good quantity of storage jars and cooking pots, though perhaps most of them are from bowls with outward-leaning walls, which is the kind of vessel used for serving and preparing food. The overall style manifests itself as very domestic and utilitarian, in that we do not observe any vessels with color variations that would be able to substantiate that the local potters were making any special technical efforts in the firing pit, or any with regards to surface treatment through the application of finer clay mixtures. Apart from the different degrees of lustre quality, and applied bands and lugs, the pottery from the cave simply reveals wares that are limited and of a very unvarying tone.

Given that this observation agrees with the pottery assemblages from the contemporaneous settlements of the mainland, as well as the vessels from other caves known to have been used in the same period, Kouveleiki cave B appears to echo a broader trend: this does necessary mean that the potters and users differ in now showing a lower interest in the aesthetics or in ignoring the techniques and skills. The unpainted and monochrome style may just be the conventional way of perceiving pottery in that era and should be understood as appropriate to the social values broadly accepted in the community. I would suggest it should not be regarded as absolutely determining subsistence priorities for the preservation of foodstuffs, and as destined to be ultimately utilitarian.


Research project by the Ephorate of Paleoanthropology-Speleology under the direction of Chr. Kondaxi and E. Stravopodi.

The study was undertaken primarily by A. Kaznesi.

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Α. Κaznesi & S. Katsarou, The Neolithic pottery from Kouveleiki Cave B at Alepochori, Laconia, Annals of Archaeology at Athens 32-34 (publ. 2003), pp. 27-36.