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Ceramics and Pre-Pottery Neolithic

A major innovation of the Neolithic was the advent of ceramic pottery.
While this was important, many early Neolithic cultures did not have established ceramics and were said to be Pre-Pottery.
This brings up 3 questions concerning game play.

  1. Will pottery become more advanced with time?
  2. Will pottery meshes/textures represent a regional cultural distinction (e.g. Linear Pottery Culture)?
  3. Will a pre-pottery period exist at the start of the game?

On a side note, ceramics also refer to figurines and tools, such as loom weights.


Waiting for the answers for these 3 interesting questions!
Here are some images that may be useful.

Those are ceramics from the “Chasséen” culture, the Middle Neolithic culture from the French Atlantic coast (Wikipedia). This style should be the core game style.

A ceramic with an unusual form (MAN, Madrid).

Picture to illustrate the fact some potteries can be really big, more than 50 cm tall (MAN, Madrid).

This geminate vessel is from near Alicante (V - IV millenia BCE). It’s not the from the culture AC is going for (it’s Radial culture) but I thought it could be interesting to consider small pottery, which had a ritual use.


I’ve tried making LBK pottery many times, but it’s always been poor quality.
I am going to try and make new reproductions in a few months using proper, Neolithic techniques.

I did make a Mehrgarh culture figure, just like this real one:

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic license.

Denis Biette, Statuette de l’art du Mehrgarh



For sure the Ice Age DLC will oblige to have a pre-pottery state, such authorizing pottery as a common tech discovered later in game. Not sure though if the devs intend to release this DLC with the base game or later.

Concerning the tech progress regarding pottery, I’m relying on my memories form archaeological lessons at the Uni, so I may be wrong.

What I remember essentially is that glazed pottery appeared only far later than the Neolithic era, essentially for building bricks used in prestige buildings like temple, and it’s only far later than it became common to use glazed pottery for vessels.

The direct implication is that the pottery used so far (until the Middle Ages for Western Europe?) had to be thrown away after quite a short time, as there were food left in all those tiny holes that are at the surface of earth, and it gave a bad taste to food.

However, there were also different ways to produce pottery, from very artistic and highly decorated vessels to “mass productions” as this happened in Mesopotamia, using e.g. a wheel, that changed the productivity, the needed amount of earth, freeing more time for other activities, etc. This would be an interesting thing to have this implemented.

One question I always wondered though is the quality of earth used. I’ve been a devoted student of Mesopotamian civilization, but I have to confess I never understood the use of plants to have less fat earth. Apparently, this means that both vessels and clay tablets could only be made with those plants to keep durability and/or resist baking, and there were very peculiar types of soil that were highly valued, e.g. for clay tablets.

Is there any archaeological evidence that for some time some potteries may have been done without those plants? This would have a very direct implication in game, as this would mean it would be a major advancement, needing however lot of work to replace the very ephemeral vessels, and needing the discovery of plant use to allow better durability?

I only look at Neolithic pottery, and I don’t think I’ve ever read about these plants mixed in the pottery during its construction. I use a very course natural clay and would fire for my pots. You can fix the stinky pot problem by grinding the inside of the pot with a ceramic ball. They used ceramic balls, placed into a fire and then introduced to the pot, to boil water. These could be used to grind the inside for cleaning. The biggest problem for pots is temperature changes causing them to crack. This happens every now and then while boiling water.

As for a Ice Age DLC, you don’t have to go back that far for pre-pottery. Many early Neolithic societies were pre-pottery. Even 5000 BCE had plenty of prepottery societies, such as the settlement of Jericho.

Answering to @Gal2 on private message, as this matter is quite confused in my mind in French, so probably far more in English. He’ll be my ambassador for that question if needed, as I’m lacking the technical vocabulary for that :wink:

For PPN, I know this. But the question is when the Middle East DLC will be released?
If that’s after the game, probably there’s no need to worry about PPN right now for the base game, as it will take place in Western Europe and I think pottery was always used during Neolithic there (needs to be confirmed though).

However, if the Ice Age DLC is released same time as the base game, this means there’s a pre-pottery era that needs to take into account such a cultural stage.

Early Neolithic pottery making © Patrick Gueneau

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This isn’t explicitly pottery, but this video does show the use of plant material in dirt/clay bricks to improve the design of the bricks. You can follow along with the video by turning on subtitles. You can also view other similar videos about primitive
technology by going to his channel. Enjoy!


Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPNA, PPNB and PPNC) is more use in association with the middle east Neolithic around 10 000 and 8000 BC So, in my mind, the Ice age DLC will not include pottery because there where no pottery during ice age (before 12000 BC) in Europe. I don’t know if some scholars using PPN concept in European Neolithic, but maybe not because theories shows that certain neolithic technologies came from middle east when some emigrants quit the middle east with there culture and technologies (agriculture, breeding and pottery crafting) for Europe around 7000-6000 BC.

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I was not sure if the first release would include some Anatolian sites or strictly Europe. These regions sometimes get mixed.
Of course, Levant would be a different release.

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Anatolia is geographically part of the Middle East region. But your right to say that theses regions get mixed (culturally in my opinion). The reason is logic, Anatolia is an important access to Europe regions. And same thing with Levant (who’s part of middle east region of course) who’s also is an unavoidable route between Africa, southeastern of middle east and Europe,central Asia.

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All too often Anatolia will get mixed up with Europe, even though it’s obviously not the same. The other important factor is Catalhoyuk. That is such an important Neolithic site that the developers might include it simply because of its importance.

An Anatolian woman praying to a goddess long-forgotten in time, Circa 5500 BCE

Sadly, I had slated to have a woman from Catalhoyuk Illustrated, but the illustrator had problems and was unable to finish my last two illustrations. I might have to have her revisit that later. As a result, I only have 3 Anatolian illustrations, =(

Went to a museum and here is their depiction of Chalcolithic pottery-making ^^ (sorry for the quality, I filmed it with my phone ^^’)


Very nice! That’s pretty close to how I plan to do it although I’m considering using hearth stones as heat reflectors, though it wouldn’t be a full oven of course. I’ve ordered clay and as soon as that arrives I’m going to be using it for that purpose. Thank you for the video!

I am making early Neolithic wine using prehistoric techniques and using my lab to make sure yeast comes out right. This means I will even be breeding yeast from raw grain.

I had considered using Pottery to brew the wine, and I probably still will… But I won’t drink the small quantity that I brew in the clay pots as it won’t be safe do two minerals leaching into it. Neolithic people wouldn’t have cared about Arsenic and Lead build up LOL I will make a second batch in a modern container at the same time that I can drink. I will also document it all and post it here

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Linear Pottery Culture pottery!

Image by Roman Grabolle, GNU General Public License

The game will require lots of pottery, as well as animations of people making it.

Game Animations:

  1. Gathering clay. People will gather clay from near waterways, especially where livestock hang around. Livestock naturally compress the clay with their hooves and their excrement is full of organic material that will mix with the clay making it dry and fire stronger. I can imagine a little villager walking over to a local river and getting a big glob of clay in their hands and wandering back.

  2. A person sitting there bowling the clay into a shape with their hands. They use wet clay, water from the dish and smooth rocks to form the inside, as well as sharp pointy tools to shape the outside.

  1. Pottery and other clay items would be left by a central hearth for several days to dry.

  2. A hole is dug and a large fire is burned until all that’s left are embers and charcoal. Pottery is been stacked on top of this charcoal, and lots of wood is placed over top and set on fire. People fan the flames to make them as hot as possible.

  1. Pottery is finished.

I have begun re-creating linear pottery culture pottery. I started with 20Lbs of red, earthen clay of 06 cone (low fire).

I spoke with a man who makes reproduction Neolithic pottery and read his papers on the subject. Afterwards, I used a clay ball pushing my thumbs into the form the dish. The coiling method that’s often described isn’t really terribly effective and has almost no thermal shock resistance.

As you can see, the imprints of my thumb are all for the inside of the dish.Using a wet piece of clay, I smoothed it pretty carefully, but it’s still a bit lumpy. There is no such thing as a pottery wheel of this time, but you can spin the pot around on a piece of cloth, or cardboard in this case. I have a small piece of linen I recently wove, but I didn’t want to screw it up with clay.

I easily air dried it with a fan. Prehistoric folks would probably Plaisted near the central hearth for several days letting the drying take place. This is not to be confused with firing the pot which will be done later. The more organic material embedded within the clay the better. This clay is low on organic material, so it will take longer to dry.

One stride, I added water and fresh clay so I could smooth it out and add a design.

As you can see, this is a very simple linear pottery culture design. I carved this using an obsidian tool.

On the side, I also made a set of clay beads to make a necklace. You can see my obsidian tool on the bottom right of the bead picture.

Finally, I made a fertility goddess figurine. One can never have too many of these and the Neolithic LOL

I will be firing this pot and the other pieces in about a week using a large wood fire outside.

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Graham Taylor is a man who makes replicas Pottery for museums. He specifically makes Neolithic pottery using Neolithic techniques and tools. I have linked a document he wrote providing some insights on the Olympic pottery that he is learned. I find his research and valuable and I’ve spoken with him several times on technique and resolving weird problems I’ve had in my own work. I highly recommend reading this paper.

I learned a lot tonight as I spent four hours firing pottery under a wood fire.
The first thing I learned is that you must introduce the pottery extremely slowly to the fire or else it will literally break apart. All of my pots suffered damage as a result of this, though one of them suffered much less damage as I began to learn what I was doing wrong.

These cracks were formed not from the air bubbles or moisture within the pot, but instead from thermal shock. In short, the pot became too hot to quickly.

In order to determine if my hypothesis was correct, I quickly made an LBK pot from wet clay and brought it down to the fire (made in 5 min!!!). I slowly heated doing a much better job of moderating my temperature than before. This completely wet pot broke in the center, but it survived much better than the pot above which had spent five days drying and was much better constructed. I was literally able to fire wet clay, telling me that not only is the problem thermal shock, but the solution is a longer fire and slower introduction to the flame.

Not sure if this is enough to debunk the idea of pots being stacked in a large fire, but it may just cast doubt on that idea.

My poor goddess figurine exploded. One of her breasts actually hit me as it flew out of the fire. I guess that was my punishment from the fertility goddess for blowing her up LOL :slight_smile: The goddess was probably also partially damaged by air pockets and water, though again slower heating would have helped.

The whorl also exploded for exactly the same reason as the other objects. I let them all get hot too fast.

The beads survived partially because I learned my lesson quickly and kept them from getting hot too fast, and also because they’re small enough to resist thermal shock better

I making new pots and I will be firing them Sunday or Monday night using my newly developed techniques implementing the things that I learned from tonight. Remember, even when things go wrong there is still a learning experience.

** Firing Neolithic Pottery**

I am about to head outside and fire pottery the Neolithic way. This will be my second attempt using techniques from the Neolithic. I will post updates and show you what I do.

Two pinch pots made in the Linear Pottery Culture style, as well as to spindle whorls.

They have been drawing for nearly 20 days. I will now begin a fire.

@Uncasual I believe the image above, which is what is almost always depicted as the method of firing Pottery, is greatly in error. Every firing I have now tried has shown me that pots must be very slowly introduced or they will literally explode. My pots exploded in every single attempt that wasn’t extremely slow

I have made that also when studying fine arts, and we prepared the set very much like that, just a bit underground with fine results. If you always have cracks then your mud must be not right I would say. You must avoid inner air bubbles at all cost or they will expand and break the piece. For the same reason mud need to be as dry as possible before burning it.

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so I spoke with the expert prehistoric Potter that I know and he says that it works acceptably in very dry climates, but not in wet climates. Apparently, it is not so much the rule as it is the exception