Understanding the Production of Majiayao Painted Pottery in Gansu: New Data and New Thoughts

Author(s): Hui WANG; Ian Freestone; Yi-Xian LIN

Year: 2015


This paper examines the evidence for local production of painted pottery of the Majiayao Culture in Gansu province based on their distinguishing characteristics in mineralogical, compositional and technological aspects, and on correlations of these features with the geographical source. An empirical observation of a contemporary family-scale workshop in Lintao County, where the most splendid pieces of Majiayao painted pottery have been found, suggests that the technological difficulties in the production of painted pottery might have been exaggerated in the existing literature. We examined a database of painted pottery sherds from one Yangshao-period site and two Majiayao-period sites with comprehensive analytical methods, i.e. petrological, grain-size, Raman microscopic analyses combined with XRF, ICP-MS, NAA, EPMA and SEM analyses, to assess factors enable diagnosing Majiayao pottery locally made in Gansu. We also examined the effects of raw materials on changes in compositions and inclusions of ceramics by studying a number of modern pottery vessels fired with local clays separately in Lintao and Linxia counties. The present case study suggests that we should be wary of linking all types of compositional and technological diversities to different provenances; however, some certain local technological characteristics of Majiyao painted pottery in Gansu might exist.

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Cite this Record

Understanding the Production of Majiayao Painted Pottery in Gansu: New Data and New Thoughts. Yi-Xian LIN, Ian Freestone, Hui WANG. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395401)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;