Evgenia Dammer

Chinese Neolithic Painted Pottery in Context

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council

My thesis explores the collecting of medieval ivory carvings and the formation of the first major collection of this material at the British Museum in the 19th century.

Start Date: October 2017
End Date: September 2020
Themes: The 'lives' of objects from their making, use, reception, loss, collection and later use and understanding. What objects can reveal about the social, cultural, religious, creative and political history of their makers, users, owners, depositors and collectors.
Research discipline: Archaeology, Scientific Research
Location: East Asia
Staff member: Dr Michela Spataro
Departments: Scientific research
University and department: Oxford University, School of Archaeology
University supervisor: Oxford University, School of Archaeology

Who was the consumer?

An “elite” social circle is often presupposed to be the main consumer.

What information can be gathered by scientific analysis of this pottery?

Clay-paste and paint recipes can be reconstructed and compared to other objects to find similarities in raw materials or production.

Why is it important to analyse the properties of this pottery?

Different properties of pottery can refer to its primary usage and function.

About my research

This project starts out with the collection of Chinese Neolithic painted pottery (3000-2000 BC) in the British Museum. The complete vessels and the sherds came from private donations and other collections to the British Museum and there has been no research conducted on them so far. A large number of such painted pottery was excavated as grave goods in Northwest China and was considered prestige ware by scholars due to its variety and an intricate polychromic decoration.

The project combines scientific ceramic analysis with approaches to burial customs and social structure in prehistory.


Majiayao jars

Aims of my research

• Providing a reference for the vessels in the BM through comparative and scientific analysis of pottery from other collections
• Investigating the manufacturing technique and production sequence through scientific analysis
• Combining the material value approach with collected data to ascertain if this pottery could be considered prestige ware or not