Characterisation and interpretation of fire pits

The site of Lugo di Grezzana (Verona) has been excavated by the University of Trento in collaboration with the Soprintendenza Archeologica del Veneto between 1996 and 2006. In the settlement, attributed to the Early Neolithic (5500-4900 calibrated B.C.), several circular (or slightly ellipsoidal) fire pits, some up to 50 cm deep, with evident traces of the use of fire, have been found.

In order to understand which processes may have led to the formation of the records found archaeologically, the function of the investigated structures, and their thermal behavior (included the analysis of the compatibility between the temperature reached by the kilns and the firing temperatures of the ceramics), has been the focus of Annalisa Costa's PhD thesis (awarded in 2018, at the University of Trento, Department of Humanities), and started a series of experimental activities in collaboration with the LaBAAF and the Department of Industrial Engineering of Povo (TN), carried out between 2014 and 2017.

The experimentation was organized into two main phases: one in the laboratory "Workshop on pottery shaping techniques" (coordinated by Prof. Annaluisa Pedrotti and Dr. Annalisa Costa) and one in situ at Lugo di Grezzana "The use of fire during the Neolithic. Experimental cooking in a pit and verification of archaeological hypotheses" (coordinated by Prof. Fabio Cavulli and Dr. Annalisa Costa).

In the first phase, the students of the Prehistory and Protohistory courses, during the planned hours of practice, acquired the knowledge about different Neolithic moulding techniques, thanks to the modelling and reproduction of the main shapes found in the site.

In the second phase, the shapes realized in the laboratory were fired in combustion structures excavated at the Lugo di Grezzana site, following an experimental protocol that allowed to document the quantity of fuel needed to fire the artefacts, the thermal behaviour of the structures (the maximum temperatures reached and their heating rate), the thermal alterations of the soil and artefacts and to observe the characteristics of the final pottery production.

 

Literature

COSTA A., CAVULLI F., PEDROTTI A. 2019, I focolari, forni e fosse per combustione di Lugo di Grezzana (VR) - The hearths, ovens, kilns and firing pits at Lugo di Grezzana (Verona), in Ipotesi di Preistoria, V. 11., N.2, pp. 27-48.

COSTA A., CAVULLI F., PEDROTTI A. 2019, Experimental archaeology for the interpretation of pyrotechnological processes: characterization of a firing pit, poster, EAC 11, 4-6 maggio 2019.

COSTA A., CAVULLI F., PEDROTTI A. 2019, I focolari, forni e fosse per combustione di Lugo di Grezzana (VR) - The hearths, ovens, kilns and firing pits at Lugo di Grezzana (Verona), VI Incontro Annuale di Preistoria e Protostoria, “Focolari, forni e fornaci tra neolitico ed età del ferro. Comprendere le attività domestiche e artigianali attraverso lo studio delle installazioni pirotecnologiche e dei residui di combustione”, IIPP, Abstract online, pp. 29-35.

COSTA A. 2018, Strutture di combustione a Lugo di Grezzana (VR). L’uso dell’archeologia sperimentale per l’interpretazione di processi archeologici. Tesi di dottorato, Università degli Studi di Trento.

COSTA A., CAVULLI F., PEDROTTI A. 2017a, Le strutture di combustione in fossa di Lugo di Grezzana (VR). Studio archeologico-sperimentale finalizzato all’interpretazione funzionale, in III Incontro Annuale di Preistoria e Protostoria, “Pozzetti, buche, piccole fosse, silos…Le strutture negative neolitiche di piccole dimensioni: metodi di indagine e problemi interpretativi, IIPP, abstract online, pp. 8-10.

COSTA A., CAVULLI F., PEDROTTI A. 2017b, Firing pits and pottery production at Lugo di Grezzana (VR). Using experimental archaeology for the interpretation of archaeological processes, in Playing with the time. Experimental archaeology and the study of the past. Rodrigo Alonso, David Canales, Javier Baena (Eds.). Servicio de Pulicaciones de la Universidad Autònoma de Madrid, pp. 255-259.

COSTA A., CAVULLI F., PEDROTTI A. 2015, Le strutture di combustione in fossa dell’insediamento di Lugo di Grezzana (VR), in Studi di Preistoria e Protostoria 2 – Preistoria e Protostoria del Veneto, IIPP, pp. 599-604.

Video "L'uso del fuoco durante il Neolitico. Lugo di Grezzana, VR. Campo sperimentale 2016".