[lollum_dropcap]F[/lollum_dropcap]igurine art and house models are the most important forms of artistic expression of Neolithic man. The depiction of people, animals and objects in clay, stone, bone, sea-shell, and more rarely in silver and gold, did not aim at the simple rendering of the main aspects of Neolithic daily life. The variety of figurines, their large number, the different quality of manufacture (meticulous or fortuitous) together with their discovery in settlements but also graves indicates rather that they were creations with a wide socio-ideological content and had symbolic connotations.
Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines accompanied man at birth, in his daily life (children’s toys), and in death. In figurines not only is fertility visualized (figurines of pregnant women, phalloi), but also life (women in childbirth), motherhood, animals being raised. Clay models of houses symbolized the vital core element of the settlement and were used, along with anthropomophic figurines, in symbolic acts as well, such as foundation offerings, recorded at Platia Magoula Zarkou in Thessaly.
Figurines were creations either of experienced and well known craftsmen in the Neolithic settlements (e.g. vase makers) or just products of the spontaneous expression of Neolithic man. In the early phases of the Neolithic they were naturalistic, while from the Late Neolithic schematization with abstract features of men and animals predominated.
The above text is a copy from: Foundation of the Hellenic World
NEOLITHIC FIGURINES AND THE ROLE OF WOMAN
[lollum_dropcap]F[/lollum_dropcap]igurines from a class of artifacts that tell us a great deal about the Neolithic folk, how they perceived their world and structured their relations. They were schematic representations of people, animals, fruit, houses, storerooms, ovens, furniture, tools and utensils. Models of people and animals were made as far back as the Palaeolithic period. Large numbers of figurine models have been found in all the Neolithic settlements in the Aegean and particularly Thessaly. The Neolithic farmers/stock breeders, men, women and children, used different materials to make them, such as clay, stone, bone, shell and probably wood.
Most of them, are made of clay, which they modeled and fired. Fewer were made of stone, and these were made by grinding and smoothing, and they differed in shape from the clay ones due to the hardness of the material and the different technique used to make them. Neolithic people often used a combination of materials the body was clay and the head of stone, shell or bone. In many cases they were painted, impressed, incised or had added plastic details.
The inexhaustible diversity of form of Neolithic figurine-models shows the great need people had to express themselves. Their favorite subject was the human figure in its most familiar versions, and they treated it with knowledge and feeling, exploring it as if they were exploring themselves. Some figurines are holding a baby or an object, or performing some activity. Others are double or multiple figures, embracing or they may depict some bodily malfunction. Hairstyles are often rendered, but ornaments and clothing more rarely, as nearly all figurines are shown naked.
Neolithic people, and more specific from Thessaly and Aegean area, used to portray women with accentuated sexual characteristics. Particular gestures of the figures and by depicting an obese female body (hips, belly, breasts).
Female figurines have been found in all the Neolithic settlements in Thessaly, both inside and outside the houses, in places for storage, food production and tool making, in oven, with ornaments and with tools for milling and weaving. This fact indicates the active role of women in the running of the house and their symbolism in important sectors of production. Women in Neolithic communities were the archetype, symbolically embodying many of the metaphysical powers, which protected agriculture and ensured the prosperity of the Neolithic household and the community. The fact that many were found discarded and broken shows that they had a limited period of use, and their presence in houses, storerooms and occasionally in graves indicates their connection with crops and survival.
Big issue for researchers and archaeologists is the use of the female figurines. Some of them represented them as goddesses, others see them as toys or charms or ornaments, and others regard them as objects with multiple uses and functions, depending on the context in which they were found. Many archaeologists associate them with Neolithic human’s process of communication, as part of an exchange of messages and knowledge. The interpretation of the figurine-models, however, remains an open question. These objects were the creative and imaginative language of the Neolithic folk. A well-made, economical, restrained language, it expressed the essence in the simplest fashion. We can discern in the figurines’ masses a profound knowledge and love of life.
[lollum_dropcap]T[/lollum_dropcap]he agricultural and stock farming character of the Neolithic economy reflected on animal figurines from Thessaly area. The neolithic animal figurines (sheep, goats, bovids, pigs and dogs) depict the domesticated animals raised by farmers. The bones of these animals are found in excavated settlements. Wild animals such as bears, deers etc. are rarely portrayed. They are made of clay and less commonly of stone, bone or shell. The Neolithic people gave the animals very schematic shapes, which makes it difficult for us to recognize the species they wanted to represent.
Most of them are standing, usually upright and motionless, and occasionally they show two headed or pregnant animals. The details on the body are usually rendered with paint or incisions. They are often adjusted on utensils or house models. Zoomorphic pots are rare, in contrast to the Balkans and the New East.
Animal figurines are found in houses, storage places, hearths and ovens, which indicates their close connection with the occupations of the community for the provision of food.
[lollum_dropcap]S[/lollum_dropcap]tone implements are the only material remnants which permit us to follow the evolution and differentiation of technology throughout the Paleolithic (~2.500.000 – 10.000 years before). They supply us, with composite informations, in order to be understandable. More specific, blades are long and narrow debitage products their length is equal to/or grater than twice their width. Their shape is predetermined by flaking. The operation chain of blade production requires several stages of core preparation before its removal as well as frequent maintenance and reshaping
The basic technical components, knowledge, materials and actions, are correlated and from standards, quite recognizable even in the early phases of human activity. The technological approach makes us able to analyze the basic components of the technical attempt for the percussion and carving of stone and to determine the intellectual schemes which lead these attempts during the Upper, Middle and Lower Paleolithic. We can see various versions of the stone carving technique as well as the methods of manufacturing stone implements through a simple or complex procedure. The stone carving techniques elucidate certain aspects of the cognitive system of the hunters and food-collectors and their ways of managing the environment as a source of raw materials. At the end, we collect informations of technical novelties the degree of abstract conception and organized realization of technical as well as their coexistence or combination with the technical standards which had the prospect to last along.
Knapping is a technique on a stone, with the purpose of shaping it controllably a crash on the surface of the mineral. The knapping is a specific procedure with the follow steps:
Controllably a crash on the surface of the mineral, on a selected spot near the periphery, causes crash waves that diffuse causing a Hertzian cone, and reflect on the outer surface by extracting a sharp chunk, the simplest product of an international intervention on matter.
The success of the percussion ensured by the choice of the specific item of the appropriate pestle regarding weight, shape and raw material, the means of percussion, the proper fracture point, and the control of the fracture angle. Two-and-a half million years ago, human started the stone knapping for making tools. Homo Sapiens Neandertalensis crossed to the path leading to predetermined flaking 100 thousand years ago. The particularity of the predictability of the technical act enters as the new standard in the technological chapter of humanity, that will be able to enrich and diversify it. Also, somewhere in the Middle Paleolithic period is characterized by the appearance of the Levallois technique standard, i.e. of the appearance of one of the most characteristic and impressive flaking techniques. The technique is based on the methodical preparation of the shape and the curvature of the core.
The two versions of stone knapping: the extraction of splintered parts and the shaping of core tools, represent the basic standard technological types in stone knapping. These two basic types of human stone technology begun million years ago.
Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens start from an equal technological binary chapter, and they materialize simple or complex technical efforts by emphasizing one or the other version.
[lollum_dropcap]T[/lollum_dropcap]he oldest prehistoric ornaments so far known in Greece come from the Upper Palaeolithic levels in the cave of Theopetra in western Thessaly (25.000 – 15.000 years ago). Paleolithic hunters used shells and animal teeth as “jewellery”. The Neolithic communities used to exchange products thereby helping the Neolithic economy.
In the Early Neolithic period there were trade networks dealing in objects of specialised processing. The jeweleries made from Spondylus gaederopus shell -mainly bracelets and rings- traveled till Central Europe and the lands bordering the Black Sea. People worked materials to make ornaments in the shapes they wanted. Neolithic ornaments included bracelets chiefly made of Spondylus shell (S. gaederopus), rings, “earrings”, “buttons” which were probably sewn on as ornaments, beads and belt buckles, which we can see on figurines. Other simple ornaments were made from pebbles, shells and roundels without suspension holes, as well as some representing people, animals and fruit. From the jewellery found in settlements in Thessaly it seems that Neolithic folk made jewellery chiefly of stone and shell, and less often of clay and bone. The main techniques used to work the raw materials were scraping, percussion, polishing and perforation, using drills of different sizes. Fabric’s analyzes of the shells show that the material came from the Aegean area, where the processing took place. At Dimini they found a large number of artifacts made of this material and that made it possible to study the method of their production. The distribution of these ornaments all through the settlement means that whole households took part in this specialised production.
Towards the end of the Neolithic period the farmers/stock breeders also used metal ornaments of beaten and polished gold, silver and copper. Very few are found in Neolithic settlements and they were probably objects of trade. In the Aegean at this time, there is a notable increase in objects of “social status”, such as Spondylus bracelets and rings, a fact possibly connected with the rise of social hierarchies. The Dimini settlement was a center of production for such jewelery, which was distributed through smaller or larger exchange networks throughout the Balkans and Central Europe. Within this context of Neolithic communications we should also include the ring-shaped figurine-amulets dating to the end of the Neolithic period made of gold, silver, stone and clay, which have been found in the Thessalian settlements of Dimini, Pevkakia, Platomagoules, in the Theopetra cave and at other Aegean sites.