Feeding Vessels in Later European Prehistory


Small vessels with spouts, from which liquid can be poured, are known from settlements and graves of the European Bronze and Iron Ages. Sizes, shapes and decorations are highly variable, and although they generally fit the period-specific style, they represent a functional type. One explanation for this vessel form is libation – the act of pouring a liquid as a sacrifice to a deity. Recent discoveries, however, reinforce an association with children’s graves and suggest a function as feeding vessels for babies and small children. Experimental work has confirmed that it is possible to feed small children with liquid from feeding vessels. In the course of the European Research Council funded project ‘The value of mothers to society,’ we are currently using GC-C-IRMS to test vessel fragments for organic molecules from liquids that may be preserved in the ceramic matrix. This paper will discuss if and how feeding vessels were used for the care of babies, small children, and the sick, as well as potential health implications of using alternatives to breastfeeding in prehistoric Europe.

Cite this Record

Feeding Vessels in Later European Prehistory. Roderick B. Salisbury, Katharina Rebay-Salisbury, Doris Pany-Kucera, Julie Dunne. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443686)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 19882