During Gibraltar’s recent prehistory, its caves were used as burial vaults. At Bray’s Cave, we were able to document a series of very interesting burials, for their morphology and ritual practices, as well as the genetic studies that have been carried out on some of the individuals buried there during the Bronze Age (approx. 1900 BCE).
In this post we will focus on the grave goods found within these burials, in this case highlighting this ceramic vessel which was found complete in a central area within the grave. This type of bowl with a globular shape is very characteristic of the period. It is handmade, without a potter’s wheel, with walls smoothed possibly using a wooden spatula or stone edge. The exterior surfaces have been fired unevenly. Darker parts have undergone a process of reduction due to a lack of oxygen and lighter and reddish parts are due to oxidation. The interior of the vessel has been completely reduced and is therefore black. Just by analysing these basic details, we can learn about part of the manufacturing process. They tell us that the vessel was placed upside down for firing, which would have been inside a simple pit kiln, probably half covered by the embers. This would explain how oxygen would reach parts of the vessel’s surface and not others, producing the changes in colouration we see.
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