Ceramic production and the transition to agriculture in Northeast China: Neolithic pottery technology in the Fuxin Region

Yuval Goren, Lonia Friedlander, Ofer Marder, Noam Shalev, Mingyu Teng, Dongdong Tu, Gideon Shelach-Lavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The production of pottery in East Asia can be traced back to approximately 20,000 years ago. Hunter-gatherer communities utilised pottery for many years before transitioning to agriculture in regions such as China, Japan, and the Russian Far East. While there has been much debate surrounding pottery production in hunter-gatherer societies, little attention has been given to the role of ceramic vessels in the shift to sedentism and agriculture. This research explores the technological aspects of pottery production in both hunter-gatherer societies and societies in the midst of transitioning to agriculture. The study focuses on ceramic assemblages from two sites in the Fuxin Area of Liaoning province, China. The earlier site represents a small semi-sedentary society that relied solely on hunting and gathering, while the later site, around 400 years later, is a village that also incorporates the use of millet. Using petrography, X-ray diffractometry, X-ray florescence, and thermo-gravimetric analyses, the study identifies differences in ceramic production between the two sites, including the use of selective clay and temper types and improved firing techniques at the later site. These technological changes are believed to be due to specific changes in the preferences of sedentary groups, possibly related to food processing during the onset of agriculture. The findings shed light on the relationship between social, economic, and technological variation in prehistoric societies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


This work used analytical equipment at the Laboratory for Microarchaeology and the Characterization Laboratories at the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (IKI), both at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. We wish to thank Ana Millionschick for the TGA analysis, the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript, and the valuable comments by the editors. This research received no direct grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. Funding for this research was provided by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant no. 728/17 awarded to Gideon Shelach-Lavi).

FundersFunder number
Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology
Israel Science Foundation728/17
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


    • Ceramic technology
    • Early agriculture
    • Neolithic
    • Northeast China
    • Petrography
    • Sedentism
    • Thermogravimetric analysis


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