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Contextualising the Neolithic Occupation of Southern Vietnam

5

An Sơn Ceramic Vessel Forms and Surface Treatments

Introduction

This chapter outlines the ceramic assemblage from the 2009 excavation at An Sơn. It describes the ceramic assemblage in all of the trenches excavated in 2009 (Trenches 1, 2 and 3 and the Test Square), as well as the basal layers of the 1997 excavation that presented the earlier part of the sequence, not apparent in 2009. In order to present the sequence of rim forms and surface treatments at An Sơn particular attention was given to squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 of Trench 1, and to the basal layers of the Test Square and of the 1997 excavation.

This chapter presents the quantities and weights of the ceramic assemblage sequentially and across the site. The subsequent analysis of the rim forms and surface treatments indicates trends over time for different forms and modes of decoration. A categorisation for rim forms and surface treatments is presented, and variants within the main rim form categories are also described. A comparison was undertaken between the Trench 1 squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 and Trench 2 to examine different uses of space in the site according to the distribution of certain ceramic rim forms. The categories and sequences established in this chapter, are important for examining the relationship between clay and temper selection and vessel form in the fabric analysis of Chapter 6.

Quantification of the ceramic sherds

The weights and quantities of the ceramic assemblage are presented here, in terms of the basic temper divisions of fibre and sand. The assemblage is divided further into the categories of rim sherds, wavy rim sherds and body sherds, plain or cord-marked, comb incised and paddle linear impressed, cà ràng (earthenware stove vessel) sherds, foot rim sherds, and other decorated rim and body sherds. The ‘decorated’ sherds do not include cord-marked, comb incised or paddle linear impressed sherds. The total counts for all trenches are provided, in addition to a breakdown of the contents of each 2009 excavation trench.

2009 An Sơn ceramic assemblage

The 2009 excavation resulted in approximately equal quantities of fibre and sand tempered sherds, inclusive of rim sherds, although there were slightly more sand tempered sherds in general. The wavy rim sherds were a significant proportion of the sand tempered rim sherds. Generally, the plain sherds outnumbered the cord-marked, comb incised and paddle linear impressed sherds. Decorated sherds were a minor component of the entire assemblage, and most were sand tempered (Table 5.1a and Table 5.1b).

Trench 1

The greatest density of ceramic sherds in Trench 1 was in the mid-sequence layers 4 to 5, and the majority of the sherds were fibre tempered, inclusive of the rim sherds. The majority of the wavy rim and decorated sherds (not including cord-marked, comb incised and paddle linear impressed sherds) across the entire assemblage, were excavated from Trench 1. While the majority of the cà ràng sherds of the entire assemblage were found in Trench 1, they compiled a smaller proportion of the Trench 1 assemblage than they did in Trench 2. The quantities of sand and fibre tempered sherds were equal in the lower layers, rather than reflecting a dominance of fibre tempered sherds, as observed in the middle and upper layers of Trench 1 (Table 5.2a and Table 5.2b).

Trench 2

The presence of smaller lenses and midden/cooking areas, and of a horizontal as opposed to a vertical stratigraphical sequence, requires that Trench 2 be considered over horizontal space. This was achieved by assessing each square separately in terms of its cultural layers and spit depths (see stratigraphy in Chapter 4). The frequencies of sherds for each spit, layer and square in Trench 2 are presented in Table 5.3a, Table 5.3b, Table 5.4a, Table 5.4b, Table 5.5a and Table 5.5b.

Counts by depth

The total number of sherds in Trench 2 was relatively low compared to Trench 1, resulting in a higher relative proportion of cà ràng sherds within the Trench 2 assemblage than in Trench 1. There were very few decorated sherds in Trench 2. Trench 2 contained a greater proportion of sand tempered sherds than Trench 1 (Table 5.3a and Table 5.3b).

Counts by layer

The distribution of ceramic sherds throughout the layers of Trench 2 is roughly equal, with a concentration of sherds at the interface of the sloping cultural layers and the basal layer 15 (Table 5.4a and Table 5.4b).

Counts by square

The ceramic content of Trench 2 was more concentrated in the southern and western areas. There were minimal numbers of sherds in the eastern area, particularly in the northeast corner (Table 5.5a and Table 5.5b).

Trench 3

Very few diagnostic sherds were collected from Trench 3 compared to Trenches 1 and 2, and the numbers of cà ràng and decorated sherds were minimal (Table 5.6a and Table 5.6b). Compared to Trench 1, the quantity of sherds in Trench 3 was quite low considering the excavation areas and depths were similar between the two trenches.

Test Square

The Test Square displayed a clearer picture of the lower layers of An Sơn than the main 2009 trenches, and showed that fibre tempered sherds were relatively rare in the lower deposits of the site. Plain sherds were also in higher quantities than cord-marked, comb incised or paddle linear impressed sherds in these lower deposits (Table 5.7a and Table 5.7b).

Table 5.1a. Weight and quantity of all Fibre temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation.

Total

Fibre temper

Weight (kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Decorated

Cà ràng

Rim

Wavy

Cord- mark/paddle linear

Plain

Rim

Body

Projection

Total

2622.73

231224

111815

17477

3

43684

49427

617

17

302

115

173

590

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.1b. Weight and quantity of all Sand temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation.

Total

Sand temper

Weight (kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord- mark/paddle linear

Plain

2622.73

119409

18547

18547

3847

43295

52442

783

495

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.2a. Weight and quantity of all Fibre temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 1.

Layer

Total

Fibre temper

Weight (kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Cà ràng

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

Rim

Body

Projection

1

72.14

9872

6647

586

0

3091

2966

4

0

0

0

0

1/2

4.83

632

191

10

0

19

162

0

0

0

0

0

2

96.12

10727

7436

925

0

3505

2946

36

7

1

16

0

2/3

9.92

1177

925

114

0

540

257

8

4

1

0

1

3

136.41

11633

5929

667

0

1186

3984

63

20

6

3

0

3/4

66.35

4743

3440

673

0

1357

1374

28

3

1

4

0

4

287.23

24073

15329

2356

0

7177

5661

79

31

7

18

0

4/5

21.85

2195

1242

292

0

512

422

8

5

3

0

0

5

577.70

42312

29587

5967

0

14352

8888

183

115

27

51

4

5/6

18.56

1700

1076

87

0

470

476

35

0

0

0

8

6

156.37

12118

8757

1827

0

4246

2623

26

28

0

4

3

6/7

4.44

239

165

30

0

69

66

0

0

0

0

0

7

91.31

5956

2952

442

0

1331

1160

13

3

0

3

0

8

102.51

7211

3622

644

0

1844

1097

24

3

6

3

1

Total

1645.74

134588

87298

14620

0

39699

32082

507

219

52

102

17

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.2b. Weight and quantity of all Sand temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 1.

Layer

Total

Sand temper

Weight(kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

1

72.14

9872

3225

359

15

1103

1728

2

18

1/2

4.83

632

441

79

0

37

317

2

6

2

96.12

10727

3291

498

2

1170

1590

18

13

2/3

9.92

1177

252

46

0

130

65

2

9

3

136.41

11633

5704

984

184

1794

2623

72

47

3/4

66.35

4743

1303

190

109

595

378

19

12

4

287.23

24073

8744

1292

568

3800

2933

101

50

4/5

21.85

2195

953

121

52

436

300

5

39

5

577.70

42312

12725

1980

673

5785

4045

128

114

5/6

18.56

1700

624

39

7

289

217

2

70

6

156.37

12118

3361

583

214

1474

1074

11

5

6/7

4.44

239

74

8

0

38

23

5

0

7

91.31

5956

3004

304

229

1594

824

25

28

8

102.51

7211

3589

461

278

1691

1061

35

63

Total

1645.74

134588

47290

6944

2331

19936

17178

427

474

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.3a. Weight and quantity of all Fibre temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 2 by depth.

Depth (cm)

Total

Fibre temper

Weight

(kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Cà ràng

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

Rim

Body

Projection

0–10

47.96

6187

1213

165

0

431

610

1

0

3

3

0

10–20

47.98

4181

824

170

0

208

429

9

1

0

7

0

20–30

77.37

4125

617

113

3

86

377

4

7

19

8

0

30–40

50.52

5706

1029

238

0

143

608

10

8

10

12

0

40–50

27.41

2446

297

58

0

34

175

1

11

12

6

0

50–60

56.51

4341

705

106

0

72

480

9

19

5

14

0

60–70

18.25

2474

263

32

0

144

82

1

1

0

3

0

70–80

39.37

5529

1259

160

0

631

459

5

4

0

0

0

80–90

26.25

3768

927

92

0

454

367

4

10

0

0

0

90–100

7.19

1352

234

21

0

93

118

1

1

0

0

0

Total

398.81

40109

7368

1155

3

2296

3705

45

62

49

53

0

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.3b. Weight and quantity of all Sand temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 2 by depth.

Depth (cm)

Total

Sand temper

Weight

(kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

0–10

47.96

6187

4974

420

120

2588

1839

2

5

10–20

47.98

4181

3357

334

42

1771

1202

7

1

20–30

77.37

4125

3508

266

91

1810

1339

1

1

30–40

50.52

5706

4677

435

133

2630

1466

10

3

40–50

27.41

2446

2149

185

46

1091

825

2

0

50–60

56.51

4341

3636

385

116

1795

1337

2

1

60–70

18.25

2474

2211

153

57

1189

809

2

1

70–80

39.37

5529

4270

324

52

2410

1476

8

0

80–90

26.25

3768

2841

185

74

1718

846

18

0

90–100

7.19

1352

1118

45

38

605

421

9

0

Total

398.81

40109

32741

2732

769

17607

11560

61

12

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.4a. Weight and quantity of all Fibre temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 2 by layer.

Depth (cm)

Total

Fibre temper

Weight

(kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Cà ràng

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

Rim

Body

Projection

1

26.73

3474

979

121

0

299

555

1

0

0

3

0

1/2

7.49

354

123

13

0

25

82

1

1

0

1

0

2

10.46

1510

322

20

0

165

135

1

0

0

1

0

2/3

30.12

3313

597

94

0

183

290

3

17

5

5

0

3

36.98

4779

986

143

0

258

546

1

7

19

12

0

3/4

23.41

2323

542

102

0

191

240

5

0

0

4

0

4

6.25

472

126

10

0

12

104

0

0

0

0

0

4/5

24.00

2887

454

74

0

176

198

2

1

0

3

0

5

8.37

1007

106

34

0

15

55

0

0

0

2

0

5/6

29.75

3706

667

70

0

280

298

6

8

0

5

0

6

8.55

679

179

74

0

10

86

4

0

3

2

0

6/7

3.73

649

129

18

0

68

41

1

1

0

0

0

7

17.83

2111

280

38

0

105

128

1

4

2

2

0

7/8

8.12

995

151

31

0

69

51

0

0

0

0

0

8

48.22

1198

175

23

3

60

89

0

0

0

0

0

8/9

32.28

2862

403

81

0

85

226

9

0

0

2

0

9

11.73

1026

83

27

0

14

40

0

0

1

1

0

9/10

1.98

510

97

6

0

45

45

1

0

0

0

0

10

3.74

382

23

9

0

8

5

1

0

0

0

0

11

0.00

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

11/12

0.22

30

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

12

0.36

90

64

0

0

64

0

0

0

0

0

0

13

0.00

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

14

0.00

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

15

58.49

5752

882

167

0

164

491

8

23

19

10

0

Total

398.81

40109

7368

1155

3

2296

3705

45

62

49

53

0

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.4b. Weight and quantity of all Sand temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 2 by layer.

Depth (cm)

Total

Sand temper

Weight

(kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

1

26.73

3474

2495

230

49

1288

927

1

0

1/2

7.49

354

231

7

27

133

60

4

0

2

10.46

1510

1188

55

22

634

469

7

1

2/3

30.12

3313

2716

222

71

1403

1019

1

0

3

36.98

4779

3793

320

119

2047

1298

5

4

3/4

23.41

2323

1781

156

80

874

664

7

0

4

6.25

472

346

54

5

150

136

0

1

4/5

24.00

2887

2433

159

61

1367

836

10

0

5

8.37

1007

901

67

37

417

377

0

3

5/6

29.75

3706

3039

235

29

1763

1001

11

0

6

8.55

679

500

63

31

256

148

1

1

6/7

3.73

649

520

33

3

328

155

0

1

7

17.83

2111

1831

130

22

972

707

0

0

7/8

8.12

995

844

97

17

417

313

0

0

8

48.22

1198

1023

85

18

560

359

1

0

8/9

32.28

2862

2459

246

46

1438

721

8

0

9

11.73

1026

943

120

13

511

298

0

1

9/10

1.98

510

413

15

18

255

123

2

0

10

3.74

382

359

14

5

186

154

0

0

11

0.00

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

11/12

0.22

30

30

0

0

20

10

0

0

12

0.36

90

26

2

0

0

24

0

0

13

0.00

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

14

0.00

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

15

58.49

5752

4870

422

96

2588

1761

3

0

Total

398.81

40109

32741

2732

769

17607

11560

61

12

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.5a. Weight and quantity of all Fibre temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 2 by square.

Square

Total

Fibre temper

Weight

(kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Cà ràng

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

Rim

Body

Projection

A1

0.65

76

8

1

0

5

2

0

0

0

0

0

A2

3.45

470

149

14

0

104

29

2

0

0

0

0

A3

6.53

674

79

21

0

14

42

0

0

1

1

0

A4

3.18

435

59

9

3

28

18

1

0

0

0

0

A5

11.43

974

144

25

0

62

55

0

1

0

1

0

B1

1.74

165

11

0

0

0

11

0

0

0

0

0

B2

38.34

79

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

B3

10.15

1094

73

10

0

16

47

0

0

0

0

0

B4

13.77

1063

102

24

0

21

54

0

0

2

1

0

B5

14.04

1539

240

40

0

76

123

1

0

0

0

0

C1

10.09

999

115

11

0

41

57

1

4

0

1

0

C2

13.65

1462

361

44

0

80

228

8

0

0

1

0

C3

14.2

2206

250

46

0

51

148

1

0

0

4

0

C4

14.53

1430

259

34

0

79

140

4

0

0

2

0

C5

16.38

1791

340

44

0

159

121

2

5

7

2

0

D1

11.85

1115

203

43

0

95

65

0

0

0

0

0

D2

19.88

2710

434

82

0

113

232

4

1

0

2

0

D3

41.21

5239

795

145

0

185

430

0

7

19

9

0

D4

25.94

2585

628

118

0

164

328

4

10

0

4

0

D5

19.48

2167

415

63

0

162

173

1

7

5

4

0

E1

17.75

1487

372

98

0

95

167

5

0

3

4

0

E2

17.23

2050

480

94

0

141

236

2

4

0

3

0

E3

32.92

3472

711

103

0

180

377

6

22

12

11

0

E4

18.87

1763

363

20

0

98

243

1

0

0

1

0

E5

21.55

3064

777

66

0

327

379

2

1

0

2

0

Total

398.81

40109

7368

1155

3

2296

3705

45

62

49

53

0

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.5b. Weight and quantity of all Sand temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 2 by square.

Square

Total

Sand temper

Weight

(kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

A1

0.65

76

68

1

1

43

23

0

0

A2

3.45

470

321

20

15

162

124

0

0

A3

6.53

674

595

37

10

337

209

2

0

A4

3.18

435

376

29

8

212

127

0

0

A5

11.43

974

830

110

4

419

296

0

1

B1

1.74

165

154

0

0

78

76

0

0

B2

38.34

79

79

0

0

70

9

0

0

B3

10.15

1094

1021

130

11

583

296

0

1

B4

13.77

1063

961

132

17

470

335

7

0

B5

14.04

1539

1299

142

36

605

514

2

0

C1

10.09

999

884

66

9

529

280

0

0

C2

13.65

1462

1101

52

27

647

375

0

0

C3

14.2

2206

1956

149

39

1064

703

1

0

C4

14.53

1430

1171

72

31

548

519

1

0

C5

16.38

1791

1451

132

43

819

452

5

0

D1

11.85

1115

912

130

14

402

364

2

0

D2

19.88

2710

2276

175

29

1284

788

0

0

D3

41.21

5239

4444

318

128

2423

1562

9

4

D4

25.94

2585

1957

242

56

984

673

2

0

D5

19.48

2167

1752

138

56

802

755

1

0

E1

17.75

1487

1115

134

48

600

331

2

0

E2

17.23

2050

1570

139

21

763

642

1

4

E3

32.92

3472

2761

191

89

1668

801

11

1

E4

18.87

1763

1400

52

19

837

488

4

0

E5

21.55

3064

2287

141

58

1258

818

11

1

Total

398.81

40109

32741

2732

769

17607

11560

61

12

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.6a. Weight and quantity of all Fibre temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 3.

Layer

Total

Fibre temper

Weight (kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Cà ràng

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

Rim

Body

Projection

1

87.48

8587

2429

234

0

387

1795

8

2

0

3

0

1/2

61.65

6163

1451

114

0

116

1214

6

0

0

1

0

2

115.66

11574

2781

233

0

148

2373

24

0

0

3

0

2/3

18.84

1981

857

73

0

39

742

2

0

0

1

0

3

34.32

4446

2449

152

0

171

2124

2

0

0

0

0

3/4

16.01

1303

502

80

0

65

355

1

1

0

0

0

4

3.84

417

150

12

0

12

125

0

1

0

0

0

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6

43.49

4941

1769

148

0

80

1531

5

4

0

1

0

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

8

123.81

10351

3894

487

0

411

2980

11

0

0

5

0

Total

505.1

49763

16282

1533

0

1429

13239

59

8

0

14

0

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.6b. Weight and quantity of all Sand temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Trench 3.

Layer

Total

Sand temper

Weight (kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

1

87.48

8587

6158

1153

174

817

4006

7

1

1/2

61.65

6163

4712

1391

52

294

2974

1

0

2

115.66

11574

8793

2131

0

657

5992

13

0

2/3

18.84

1981

1124

205

0

219

700

0

0

3

34.32

4446

1997

311

0

567

1112

7

0

3/4

16.01

1303

801

126

0

167

506

2

0

4

3.84

417

267

32

55

113

65

0

2

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6

43.49

4941

3172

564

1

599

1997

6

5

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

8

123.81

10351

6457

1284

216

1085

3860

12

0

Total

505.1

49763

33481

7197

498

4518

21212

48

8

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.7a. Weight and quantity of all Fibre temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Test Square.

Depth (cm)

Total

Fibre temper

Weight (kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Cà ràng

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

Rim

Body

Projection

0–60 cm

2.09

133

54

0

0

16

38

0

0

0

0

0

60–140 cm

2.35

135

26

8

0

3

14

1

0

0

0

0

140–180 cm

7.74

643

112

14

0

38

60

0

0

0

0

0

150–160 cm

6.86

570

7

6

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

160–170 cm

3.75

280

35

5

0

0

30

0

0

0

0

0

170–180 cm

2.28

140

15

9

0

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

180–190 cm

2.56

277

26

1

0

4

18

0

3

0

0

0

190–200 cm

1.96

243

18

3

0

0

15

0

0

0

0

0

200–210 cm

8.26

725

136

25

0

34

75

0

1

0

1

0

210–220 cm

5.4

372

48

4

0

17

5

0

5

14

3

0

220–230 cm

9.2

962

117

30

0

40

42

2

3

0

0

0

230–240 cm

4.97

485

69

29

0

29

10

0

1

0

0

0

240–250 cm

4.41

782

50

18

0

19

13

0

0

0

0

0

250–260 cm

1.2

244

56

8

0

23

25

0

0

0

0

0

unknown

10.05

773

98

9

0

30

56

3

0

0

0

0

Total

73.08

6764

867

169

0

260

401

6

13

14

4

0

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.7b. Weight and quantity of all Sand temper and total of all An Sơn ceramic sherds, 2009 excavation, Test Square.

Depth (cm)

Total

Sand temper

Weight (kg)

Quantity

Quantity

Rim

Body

Foot rim

Decorated

Rim

Wavy

Cord-mark

Plain

0–60 cm

2.09

133

79

25

0

4

50

0

0

60–140 cm

2.35

135

109

34

0

4

71

0

0

140–180 cm

7.74

643

531

168

0

164

198

0

1

150–160 cm

6.86

570

563

164

3

80

316

0

0

160–170 cm

3.75

280

245

69

2

36

138

0

0

170–180 cm

2.28

140

125

33

5

12

75

0

0

180–190 cm

2.56

277

251

59

4

56

132

0

0

190–200 cm

1.96

243

225

37

0

72

116

0

0

200–210 cm

8.26

725

589

159

22

156

252

0

0

210–220 cm

5.4

372

324

83

5

61

175

0

0

220–230 cm

9.2

962

845

161

112

279

292

1

0

230–240 cm

4.97

485

416

113

12

112

179

0

0

240–250 cm

4.41

782

732

311

64

0

112

245

0

250–260 cm

1.2

244

188

15

18

97

58

0

0

unknown

10.05

773

675

243

2

101

328

1

0

Total

73.08

6764

5897

1674

249

1234

2492

247

1

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Characterisation of the ceramic sequence

The total counts of the ceramic assemblage indicate different contents in each excavation trench. Trench 1 displayed the clearest stratigraphic sequence of all the 2009 excavation trenches, and its ceramic contents can be used to characterise the ceramic sequence at An Sơn. Trench 1 did not appear to contain layers contemporary with the earliest known layers identified in the 1997 excavation, and thus the overall sequence was expanded beyond Trench 1 with information about the ceramic assemblages from the lower layers of the Test Square and the 1997 excavation. Trench 2 displayed an assemblage that was more comprehensible when considered over horizontal rather than vertical space. The thin lenses and layers of Trench 2 suggest rapid deposition associated with burning, midden deposition and cooking. While the stratigraphy of Trench 3 was relatively simple, the effects of clay deposition due to runoff from the main mound rendered most of its depth unable to be analysed. Survival of bone and shell was non-existent in Trench 3, and erosion of the ceramic sherds meant that little diagnostic material was recovered.

This section describes the rim form categories and sequences for each trench, the complete vessel forms, and the sequence of decorative modes at An Sơn.

Rim forms

The categorisation of the rim forms is based on the principles and terminology presented by Anna Shepard (1965). Five rim form classes, A, B, C, D and E, were identified in the An Sơn ceramic assemblage. Class A were everted rim forms from independent restricted and unrestricted vessels. Class A was divided into A1, straight everted rims, and A2, concave everted rims. Class B were simple restricted vessels, or bowls. Class C were simple unrestricted, sometimes restricted, vessels, or dishes. Class D were wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels. Class E, known as cà ràng in Vietnamese, were stove vessels with three projections to support another vessel during cooking (Figure 5.1).

The categorisation focuses on the rim form rather than the entire vessel, as few complete vessels were recovered from the 2009 excavation except from burials (shown in Figure 5.14). Thus, the A1 rim forms, in particular, were observed as both restricted and unrestricted when the complete vessel was recovered, but this vessel shape was not identifiable from small rim sherds. Additionally, the scope of variation within the C1 rim forms resulted in some appearing as simple restricted vessels with an inverted rim and others as simple unrestricted vessels with a direct rim (Figure 5.1). Additional features of vessels included pedestals on many of the forms when complete vessels were recovered (Figure 5.14).

The variations within each rim form are displayed in Figure 5.2, although these variant rim forms were not present in large numbers in the 2009 excavation. This variation in specific rim forms is discussed further in the study of standardisation in Chapter 7. The variations were not included in the categorisation presented in Figure 5.1, because of their infrequency in the 2009 assemblage. Foot rims were also not included in this categorisation because they were not diagnostic of specific vessel forms.

The proportion of each rim form in the basic classes A to E is presented for each 2009 excavation trench, and a detailed examination of the rim forms is shown for Trench 1 squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 in the remainder of this section.

Fig.5.1.tif

Figure 5.1. Categorisation of An Sơn ceramic rim forms.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.2.new.tif

Figure 5.2. Variations within the An Sơn ceramic rim forms categorised in Figure 5.1.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

All squares

In Trench 1, rim form A1a was dominant throughout all of the layers. Form A1b was present in small numbers throughout the layers, occuring mainly in layers 3 to 6. Forms A1c and A1h were present in small numbers throughout all layers. A1d and A1e were present in higher quantities than the other A1 varieties, except for A1a, particularly in layers 3 to 6 for A1d. A1f was present in higher quantities in layer 3. Form A1g was present in higher quantities in layers 1 to 4, and A1i was present in small quantities in layers 3, 7 and 8. The rippled profile variant of A1i (A1i-r) appeared infrequently from layer 6 into the upper layers.

Form A2a was present in all layers. A2b was not present in Trench 1, while A2c was present in small quantities in layers 7 and 8 only. B1a was present in greatest quantities in layer 8. B1b was not present in Trench 1. With the exception of the upper layers, B2a was present throughout, and most commonly in layer 8. B3a was minimal in Trench 1. C1a was present throughout the layers in noticeable quantities. The other class C forms were minimal in numbers, except for C3a, which was present throughout with highest quantities in layers 7 and 8. D1a was also in greatest numbers in layers 7 and 8, but occurred throughout the sequence with a marked decline in layers 1 and 2. D1b was only present in layers 7 and 8, while D2a was minimal in Trench 1. Class E cà ràng sherds were identified in each layer, with the largest quantities present mid-sequence (Figure 5.3, Figure 5.4).

Fig.5.3.new.tif

Figure 5.3. Proportion of rim form classes A1, A2, B, C, D1, D2 and E by layers, Trench 1, all squares.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.4.new.tif

Figure 5.4. Proportion of rim forms by layer, Trench 1, all squares.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Trench 1: Squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2

After observing only the rims in the six squares some patterns became clear in Trench 1 located closest to the main mound, (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2). Some rim forms were not present in these squares, and the number of A1i-r, B1b, B3a, D1b and D2a forms were minimal. A decline in the occurrence of A1a was marked in layers 7 and 8 compared to the upper layers, where A2a, B1a, and most notably D1a rim sherds were in greater proportions. C1a and C1b rim sherds declined in proportion from the top to the lowest layers. C2b was present in highest numbers mid-sequence. C3a was only present from layers 5 to 7. D1a was present in greatest numbers in layers 7 and 8, but was still present as high as layer 5. D1b and D2a were rare in these six squares of Trench 1. Class E was also rare but occurred in highest quantities mid-sequence (Figure 5.5, Figure 5.6).

Fig.5.5.new.tif

Figure 5.5. Proportion of rim form classes A1, A2, B, C, D1, D2 and E by layer, Trench 1, squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.6.new.tif

Figure 5.6. Proportion of rim forms by layer, Trench 1, squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Trench 2

Trench 2 had a different internal stratigraphy to Trench 1, as it was quite separate from the stratigraphy of the main mound itself (see Chapter 4). The contents of the smaller lenses with concreted ashy midden material and charcoal stained soil suggested that the area of Trench 2 was used as an activity rather than as a dumping area located away from the side of the mound. During excavation it was thought the lenses were deposited horizontally in quick succession, therefore the majority were roughly contemporaneous.

The deposits from Trench 2 20–60 cm contained a similar composition of rim forms to Trench 1. Rim forms A1 and A2 dominated the assemblage of Trench 2, with a greater presence of A1 throughout the spits. Class B rim forms were minimal mid-sequence, from 10–70 cm, with much higher proportions in the 80–100 cm deposits. Class C was present throughout the layers. The wavy rimmed D1 form was present throughout the spits, but in highest proportions in the 40–100 cm spits. The serrated rim form D2a was present in largest quantities at 0–60 cm, with few to none in the lower spits. Class E was a more significant component of each spit in Trench 2 than in the other trenches. Class E cà ràng sherds were most common in 20–60 cm deposits, diminishing in the 60–90 cm spits, with none in the basal 90–100 cm spit (Figure 5.7, Figure 5.8).

Very few D2 sherds were identified in Trench 1, and the majority were recovered from Trench 2 in the 2009 excavation. The Trench 2 deposits were contemporaneous with use of the serrated D2 rim. This form is unique to An Sơn and can be used as a temporal marker, when establishing a chronology of the ceramic forms in relation to the well-dated burials (as discussed in Chapter 10).

Fig.5.7.new.tif

Figure 5.7. Proportion of rim form classes A1, A2, B, C, D1, D2 and E by depth, Trench 2.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.8.tif

Figure 5.8. Proportion of rim forms by depth, Trench 2.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Trench 3

The stratigraphy was not as clear in Trench 3 as it was in Trench 1, and this trench offered little information for understanding the ceramic sequence at An Sơn. The plots (Figure 5.9, Figure 5.10) show there was an overwhelming dominance of A1 rim forms throughout the Trench 3 sequence.

Fig.5.9.tif

Figure 5.9. Proportion of rim form classes A1, A2, B, C, D1, D2 and E by layer, Trench 3.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.10.tif

Figure 5.10. Proportion of rim forms by layer, Trench 3.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Test Square

The Test Square represented the earlier part of the sequence and only the lower spits are reported here (200–260 cm). Due to the small size of the excavation, only dominant rim forms (Figure 5.1) were excavated from this trench. A clear transition in rim forms was observed in the Test Square, with A2 concave rims, present in higher quantities than the A1 everted rims. This trend was also observed in the lower layers of Trench 1 (Figure 5.5). Generally, the A2 rim forms comprised the same proportion of the assemblage in each 10 cm spit. Class B was also important in the earlier sequence in both Trench 1 and the Test Square, especially below 220 cm in the latter. Class C only occurred from 200 to 230 cm in the Test Square. The wavy rimmed D1 forms were present in all of the Test Square layers in notable quantities, except in the basal layer 250–260 cm, while the D2 serrated rims were absent in the Test Square. There were few cà ràng class E sherds present in the Test Square, only from 200 to 220 cm (Figure 5.11, Figure 5.12).

Fig.5.11.tif

Figure 5.11. Proportion of rim form classes A1, A2, B, C, D1, D2 and E by depth, Test Square.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.12.tif

Figure 5.12. Proportion of rim forms by depth, Test Square.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

1997 excavation basal layers

The 1997 excavation layers 3–4 and 3–5 clarify the sequence of rim forms (Figure 5.1) at the inception of occupation at An Sơn. The restricted bowls with unthickened rims (B1b) dominated these lowest layers, along with some A1a and A2a rims. Greater variety appeared in the 1997 layer 3–4, which revealed a dominance of the wavy rim vessels (D1), especially the narrow wave variety (D1b). The other rim forms observed in this layer, in order of frequency, were A2a, A1a, B1a, A2b, C3a, A2c, A1f, B2a and C1b. B1b rim sherds were not present in layer 3–4, so perhaps they were replaced by the thickened rim variety, B1a (Figure 5.13).

Fig.5.13.tif

Figure 5.13. Proportion of rim forms by layer, 1997 excavation, base layers. Only rim forms present in layers 3–4 and 3–5 are shown.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Summary: Sequence of rim forms at An Sơn

Each class of rim form showed transitions throughout the An Sơn sequence. The lowest layers were characterised by a higher proportion of A2 versus A1 forms. This is apparent in the assemblage from 200–260 cm in the Test Square, and layer 8 in Trench 1. The transition to a higher proportion of A1 forms, specifically A1a, occurred between layers 7 and 8 in Trench 1. Conversely, the assemblage of Trench 2 exhibited a higher proportion of A1 in its basal layer 15, while A2 was only in higher proportions in layers 6 and 12. This further supports the observation that the area of Trench 2 was not in use during the earliest occupation at An Sơn.

Class B forms were important in the earlier layers at An Sơn, and reveal a transition from B1b to B1a forms in the 1997 layers 3–5 to 3–4. The thickened rim of B1a was introduced during layer 3–4 and was common in the lower layers of Trenches 1 and 2 and the Test Square, where B1b ceased to be present. The class C ceramic forms diversified mid-sequence, but they were rare in the base layers and more common in Trench 1 layers 1 to 5.

Class D rim forms underwent some of the clearest morphological transitions through the An Sơn sequence. The early to middle layers were characterised by the D1 form with a wavy rim and round base, and the later sequence was characterised by a lack of D1, which was replaced by the D2 form with a serrated rim and conical-shaped base. The initial settlement at An Sơn is unlikely to have included class D, as they were absent in the lowest spit of the 2009 Test Square, at 250–260 cm, and the 1997 layer 3–5. Form D1 first appeared in layer 3–4 of the 1997 excavation. D2 were rare in 2009 Trench 1 and only occurred in layers 1 to 5, but were dominant in Trench 2 layer 3. The transition between the characteristic D1 and D2 forms was rapid with a period of experimentation when waves were transformed into serrations at the rim. This transition in rim form is shown in Figure 10.1 and is further discussed in terms of chronology and ceramic markers, and innovative behaviours amongst potters in Chapter 10.

Class E forms were rare in the earliest layers, with no cà ràng sherds from 200–260 cm in the Test Square. However, there was a change in the shapes of cà ràng projections in Trench 1, where square-shaped projections (E2a) were in higher proportions in the lower to mid layers, and rounded projections (E2b) in greater proportions in the middle to upper layers. In Trench 2, class E sherds were most commonly identified in layers 3, 7, 8 and 15, i.e. mid-sequence, with both square and round projections present. Very few cà ràng sherds were identified in layers 1 and 2 of Trench 2.

Table 5.8 presents the sequence of rim forms from the An Sơn 2009 excavation season, based on the above observations, and in particular the stratigraphic sequence of rim forms in Trench 1.

Table 5.8. part A Sequence of rim forms, Trench 1. Forms A1g, A1i-r, B1b, B3a, and D1b were not present in Trench 1. Key: rim form image = first appearance of form in Trench 1, – rim form present in layer, - - diminishing proportion of rim form, blacked out areas = none of the rim form in layer.

Table%205.8a.tif

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.8. part B Sequence of rim forms, Trench 1. Forms A1g, A1i-r, B1b, B3a, and D1b were not present in Trench 1. Key: rim form image = first appearance of form in Trench 1, – rim form present in layer, - - diminishing proportion of rim form, blacked out areas = none of the rim form in layer.

Table%205.8b.tif

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Complete vessels

The complete or reconstructed vessels predominantly originated from burial contexts in the 2009 excavation. Given the small number of burials exposed in 2009, the number of complete vessels is accordingly small. While the complete vessels correspond to the rim forms shown in the categorisation in Figure 5.1, these vessels give further information about the body and base forms (Figure 5.14).

Mortuary vessels

A total of sixteen mortuary vessels were excavated in 2009, with one burial containing nine vessels. The burials at An Sơn most consistently included at least one class D vessel, which varied between the wavy and serrated forms (Figure 5.15). The burials that did not include a class D vessel were interred either with an A1a rim form vessel with a small, globular body, or with no vessels at all. Infant burials rarely included ceramic vessels (see Chapter 4). While there was some consistency in the selection of a class D vessel for burial, no other forms were obviously manufactured to be mortuary vessels. The one burial with many vessels included a variety of rim form classes: A1, A2, C and D, with the A2a vessel highly decorated with incised and impressed designs (09AS Trench 1 burial 2 (vessel #1) in Figure 5.14, Figure 5.16). Another burial included a unique vessel form in addition to D1a vessels (09AS Trench 2 burial 3 (vessel #1) in Figure 5.14).

Occupational vessels

The few complete vessels from occupational contexts were derived predominantly from the refuse disposal of damaged pots in Trench 1. These dense deposition layers consisted mostly of small sherds, but there were also a few reconstructable vessels. These included some large, decorated, probably ritualistic vessels (e.g. 09AS Trench 1 A6 layer 5 spit 6–7 in Figure 5.14, Figure 5.16), as well as more common utilitarian vessels that match the rim forms in Figure 5.1.

Fig.5.14.tif

Figure 5.14. Complete ceramic vessel forms at An Sơn.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.15.tif

Figure 5.15. Complete class D vessels, wavy and serrated rims.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.16.tif

Figure 5.16. Complete decorated vessels with detail images of incised and impressed motifs (not to scale).

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Surface treatment and decoration

While modes of decoration varied considerably, decorated sherds were generally uncommon across the entire assemblage. The greatest quantity of decorated sherds came from Trench 1. Recorded decorative methods and/or surface treatments included coarse cordmarking, comb incision/paddle impression, burnishing, incision, red painting, punctate stamping, roulette stamping, appliqué, and white lime infill (examples shown in Figure 5.17). The term ‘roulette stamping’ is applied here to describe impressions that have been rolled onto the ceramic surface with a stamp tool. Nishimura and Nguyễn (2002) have stated these impressions were created by a ‘rocker stamp’, but with closer examination this seems unlikely due to the lack of overlap and gaps in the panels of impressions and the presence of continuously rolled motifs. ‘Punctate stamping’ describes repeated impression using the end of a toothed tool.

Roulette stamping was far more common than punctate stamping at An Sơn, and there was great variety in the motifs. Southeast Asian researchers are most familiar with the Indian rouletted wares and their importance for trade across the region later in prehistory. The An Sơn ceramic motifs share similarities with the Arikamedu ceramics from southern India that date to much later, from the second to first century BC (see Begley 1986: Figure 4; Wheeler, Ghosh and Deva 1946: plate XXVA). These motifs are not isolated to India and roulette impressions using knotted cord are also present in Africa (Soper 1985). Recent research at Nabta Playa in the Nubian Desert of Egypt has indicated that early ceramics were impressed with a wheel-stamp, dated to c. 9000 BP. Ceramic roulette disks were identified at Nabta Playa that had chipping on the outer edge and it has been proposed that the outer edge of these disks was rolled on the ceramic surface to create the impressions (Jórdeczka et al. 2011).

For the analysis of decoration and surface treatments, the categories of cordmarking, comb incision/paddle linear impression and burnishing were only recorded when in combination with another decorative mode, since at least one of these features appeared on most of the sherds in the assemblage. Very few decorated sherds were identified outside of Trench 1 in the 2009 excavation, therefore only this excavation trench and the basal layers of the 1997 excavation are included in this section.

Fig.5.17.tif

Figure 5.17. Modes of decoration at An Sơn.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Trench 1

There were 491 decorated sherds from the 2009 Trench 1 included in this analysis. A high proportion of sherds had a single mode of surface treatment/decoration on rim sherds in the earliest layers, whereas combination motifs on body sherds dominated the later layers (Figure 5.18, Figure 5.19). The majority of the decorated sherds were tempered with fine or mixed-grade sands. In the earliest layers, a higher proportion of the decorated sherds were tempered with coarse sand (Figure 5.20).

Coarse cordmarking was only present in the earliest layers. Horizontal line incision was identified throughout the sequence, but vertical line incision was less frequent and occurred in higher proportions in the earlier layers. Triangular-shaped incision was more numerous mid-sequence. Criss-cross incision was in higher proportions in the earlier layers, but was generally rare. Other geometric (curvilinear and diamond-shaped) incision was identified mid-sequence and in layer 8. Wavy incision was present throughout the sequence, except in layer 1, but zigzag incision was only present in the middle and lower layers. Concentric circle incision was infrequent throughout the sequence.

Red paint was rarely identified, but was present in low quantities throughout the sequence, although absent in layer 8. Coarse punctate stamping was in higher proportions in layer 8. Other kinds of punctate stamping were generally rare, and most stamping was created by rouletting, which was present throughout the layers. The different kinds of roulette stamps are discussed further in Chapter 7. Other modes of decoration were rare at An Sơn, and comb incision/paddle linear impression, cordmarking and burnishing were present throughout the sequence in association with other decorative modes (Figure 5.21). Examples of these modes of decoration are shown in Figure 5.17.

Fig.5.18.tif

Figure 5.18. Quantity of sherds with a single decorative mode or a combination of multiple decorative modes by layer, Trench 1.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.19.tif

Figure 5.19. Quantity of sherds with surface treatments on each portion of the vessel by layer, Trench 1.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.20.tif

Figure 5.20. Quantity of sherds with each macroscopically observed temper group by layer, Trench 1.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.21.tif

Figure 5.21. Proportion of each surface treatment/decoration by layer, Trench 1.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

1997 excavation basal layers

Once again, the lowest layers of the 1997 excavation were included to expand the sequence identified in 2009 Trench 1 to include the earliest known layers at An Sơn. The total number of decorated sherds examined from the basal layers of the 1997 excavation was 95: 43 from layer 3–4 and 52 from layer 3–5.

In layers 3–4 and 3–5, a higher proportion of the decorated sherds had a single mode of decoration in layers 3–4 and 3–5 than was observed in the 2009 Trench 1 (Figure 5.22). The majority of the decorated sherds from layer 3–5 were foot rim, while mostly pedestals, and body portions occurred in layer 3–4 (Figure 5.23). None of the decorated sherds were tempered with fibre in layers 3–4 or 3–5. Almost all of the decorated sherds from layer 3–5 were tempered with fine sand, while the sherds of layer 3–4 were tempered with mixed-sized sand grains (Figure 5.24).

The majority of the decorated sherds from layer 3–5 had horizontal incision, while a number were decorated with wavy incision, roulette stamping, vertical/diagonal incision, and punctate stamping. A number of sherds were cord-marked and burnished in association with other modes of decoration. However, a different mode of decoration was observed on some rim sherds: cordmarking in horizontal rows on the external surface. This mode of decoration was unique to layer 3–5. Modes of decoration became more varied by layer 3–4, with many of the decorated sherds painted or having horizontal incision. The other represented modes of decoration were coarse cordmarking, vertical/diagonal incision, wavy incision, roulette stamping, and appliqué. Burnishing and comb incision/paddle linear impression were also identified in association with some other modes of decoration (Figure 5.25). Examples of these modes of decorations are shown in Figure 5.17.

Fig.5.22.tif

Figure 5.22. Quantity of sherds with a single decorative mode or a combination of multiple decorative modes by layer, 1997 excavation, layers 3–4 and 3–5.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.23.tif

Figure 5.23. Quantity of sherds with surface treatments on each portion of the vessel by layer, 1997 excavation, layers 3–4 and 3–5.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.24.new.tif

Figure 5.24. Quantity of sherds with each macroscopically observed temper group by layer, 1997 excavation, layers 3–4 and 3–5.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.25.tif

Figure 5.25. Proportion of each surface treatment/decoration by layer, 1997 excavation, layers 3–4 and 3–5.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Summary: Sequence of surface treatment and decoration

Table 5.9 presents the sequence of surface treatment and decoration from the An Sơn 2009 excavation season. It is based particularly on the stratigraphic sequence of Trench 1. The highest number of decorated sherds appeared mid-sequence in Trench 1, layers 5 and 5/6, where most of these sherds were sand tempered. The basic sequence over time shows that the earliest decorative modes were punctate stamped, particularly coarse punctate, and coarse cord-marked. Horizontal incision, vertical/diagonal incision, criss-cross incision, wavy incision, and roulette stamping were also present in the lowest layers, layer 8 in 2009 Trench 1 and layers 3–5 and 3–4 in the 1997 excavation. These modes of decoration were closely followed by red paint and appliqué in layer 3–4 of the 1997 excavation. Red paint was present in higher quantities in layers 4 to 7 in Trench 1, wavy and zigzag incision in layers 3 to 8, concentric circle incision in layers 5 to 6, lime infill in layers 4 to 6, and triangle incisions in layers 1 to 5. Punctate stamping was present in Trench 1 from layers 3 to 5/6, while roulette stamping was present throughout the sequence.

Table 5.9. Sequence of surface treatment and decoration at An Sơn, all 2009 excavation trenches. See examples of decorative modes in Figure 5.17. Key: – decorative mode present in layer, + highest proportion of decorative mode, - - diminishing proportion of decorative mode, blacked out areas = none of the decorative mode in layer.

Table%205.9.tif

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Spatial distribution of rim forms

The spatial distributions of the rim forms in Trench 1, squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2, are compared here with those in Trench 2. Trenches 1 and 2 were located close together, but presented rather different evidence for usage. While Trench 1 contained a straightforward sequence of dumping layers off the main mound, Trench 2 consisted of many small lenses and layers with a decidedly horizontal distribution, with dense midden deposits in some layers. The two trenches are described, and a comparison and discussion of spatial distribution follows.

Trench 1: Squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2

The layers represented in squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 were recorded in the northern wall of Trench 1. They are labelled 1 to 8 from the surface downwards (Figure 5.26), and are characterised in Table 5.10 according to soil matrices, the presence of ceramic rim forms (Figure 5.1 and Figure 5.6), and other items of material culture.

Fig.5.26.new01.tif

Figure 5.26. Stratigraphy of the north wall, Trench 1, squares A1, B1, C1.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Table 5.10. Characterisation of soil matrices, ceramic rim forms (in Figure 5.1) and material culture in each layer, Trench 1, squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2.

Layer

Soil matrix description

Ceramic rim forms present (see Figure 5.1)

Material culture present

1

mid-brown with very little cultural material

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b, A1c, A1d, A1e, A1f, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2
  • • arestricted vessels: B1a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C2a, C2b
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D2a
  • • cà ràng projections: E2b
  • • unpolished and polished stone flakes
  • • stone adze fragments
  • • well-worn unshouldered stone adzes

2

dark brown with two lenses of a dark brown to black colour and cultural material

Layer not present in A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 squares

Layer not present in A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 squares

3

light brown with dense pottery

Layer not present in A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 squares

Layer not present in A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 squares

4

orange to brown with cultural material

Layer not present in A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 squares

Layer not present in A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 squares

5

red to brown with a lot of cultural material

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b, A1c, A1d, A1e, A1f, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a, A2b, A2c
  • • restricted vessels: B1a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1b, C2b, C3a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D2a
  • • cà ràng rims and projections: E1a, E2a, E2b
  • • ceramic roundels
  • • clay pellets
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • whetstones
  • • unpolished and polished stone flakes
  • • stone adze fragments
  • • shouldered stone adzes
  • • unshouldered stone adzes
  • • reflaked shouldered stone adzes and axes
  • • broken unshouldered and shouldered stone adzes

6

light brown with cultural material

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b, A1c, A1d, A1e, A1f, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a and A2b
  • • restricted vessels: B1a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C2b, C3a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D2a
  • • cà ràng rims and projections: E1a, E, E2b
  • • ceramic roundels
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • sandstones
  • • whetstones
  • • polished stone flakes
  • • shouldered stone axes
  • • broken shouldered stone adzes

7

light brown with cultural material

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b, A1c, A1e, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a, A2b, A2c
  • • restricted vessels: B1a, B2a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C2b, C3a
  • • a large number of wavy rimmed unrestricted vessels (D1a), as well as some serrated rimmed vessels (D2a)
  • • cà ràng rims and projections: E1a, E2a
  • • sandstone
  • • polished stone flakes
  • • broken shouldered stone adzes

8

grey to brown with very little cultural material

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b
  • • concave rims: A2a, A2c
  • • restricted vessels: B1a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C2a
  • • wavy rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a

None

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Trench 2

Previously, sherd quantities have been plotted according to 10 cm spits for Trench 2 (Figure 5.7 and Figure 5.8). In this section, the cultural layers within Trench 2, labelled from 1 to 15 from the surface downwards (Figure 4.4), are characterised in Table 5.11, according to soil matrices, ceramic rim forms (Figures 5.1 and 5.27), and other items of material culture. Layers 11, 13 and 14 contained very little cultural material and are not included.

Table 5.11. Characterisation of soil matrices, ceramic rim forms (in Figure 5.1) and material culture in each layer, Trench 2.

Layer

Soil matrix description

Ceramic rim forms present (see Figure 5.1)

Material culture present

1

dark grey

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1e, A1f, A1g, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a
  • • restricted vessels: B3a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C2a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1b, D2a
  • • cà ràng rims: E1a
  • • clay pellets
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • gastropod shells

2

yellow to brown

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1c, A1e, A1f, A1g, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a
  • • restricted vessels: B3a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C3a
  • • serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D2a
  • • cà ràng rims and projections: E1a, E2a, E2b
  • • clay pellets
  • • shell beads
  • • stone flakes
  • • stone adze fragments, broken shouldered stone adzes
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • gastropod shells

3

light brown

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b, A1c, A1e, A1f, A1g, A1h, A1ic
  • • oncave rims: A2a, A2c
  • • restricted vessels: B1a, B2a, B3a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C2a, C3a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D1b, but more D2a
  • • cà ràng rims and projections: E1a, E2a, E2b
  • • ceramic roundels
  • • clay pellets
  • • shell beads
  • • unpolished and polished stone flakes
  • • stone implement with a ground hole in the centre (Figure 4.67)
  • • baked clay lumpsgastropod shells

4

dark red to brown

  • • everted rims: A1a (but notably not in squares E3, E4 and E5), A1b, A1c, A1f, A1g, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a (but notably not in squares E3, E4 and E5), A2c
  • • restricted vessels: B1a, B2a, B3a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C2a, C3a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D1b, but more D2a
  • • cà ràng rims and projections: E1a, E2a
  • • clay pellets
  • • shell beads
  • • unpolished stone flakes
  • • whetstones
  • • a large polished stone arrowhead
  • • shouldered stone adzes
  • • unshouldered stone adzes
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • gastropod shells

5

light brown to red

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1c, A1e, A1f, A1g, A1h, A1i, A1i-r
  • • concave rims: A2a (but notably not in squares E3, E4 and E5), A2c
  • • restricted vessels: B3a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C3a wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D1b, D2a
  • • cà ràng rims and projections: E1a, E2a, E2b
  • • clay pellets
  • • shell beads
  • • unpolished and polished stone flakes
  • • unshouldered stone adzes
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • gastropod shells

6

light brown to dark beige

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1c, A1e, A1f, A1i, A1i-r
  • • concave rims: A2a, A2b
  • • restricted vessels: B1a, B2a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C3a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D1b, D2a
  • • cà ràng rims and projection sherds: E1a, E2a, E2b
  • • clay pellets
  • • unpolished and polished stone flakes
  • • broken shouldered stone adzes
  • • concretions
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • gastropod shells

7

red to light brown

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b, A1c, A1e, A1f, A1g, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a, A2c
  • • restricted vessels: B2a, B3a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C3a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D1b, D2a
  • • cà ràng rim and projection sherds: E1a, E2a, E2b
  • • clay pellets
  • • a ceramic bead
  • • concretions
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • gastropod shells

8

light brown

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b, A1c, A1e, A1f, A1g, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a, A2c
  • • restricted vessels: B1a, B2a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C2a, C2b, C3a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D1b, D2a
  • • cà ràng rims and projections: E1a, E2a
  • • unpolished and polished stone flakes
  • • broken shouldered stone adzes
  • • concretions
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • gastropod shells

9

beige

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b, A1c, A1e, A1f, A1g, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a, A2c
  • • restricted vessels: B1a, B2a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C3a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D1b, D2a
  • • cà ràng rims and projections: E1a, E2a, E2b
  • • clay pellets
  • • polished stone flakes
  • • baked clay lumps
  • • gastropod shells

10

orange to brown

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1c, A1e, A1f, A1g, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a, A2b
  • • restricted vessels: B1a, B2a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a
  • • wavy and serrated rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a, D2a
  • • cà ràng rims: E1a
  • • unpolished and polished stone flakes
  • • stone adze fragments
  • • notably less baked clay lumps
  • • gastropod shells

11

black with very little contents

everted rims: A1f

minor baked clay and shell contents

12

mid brown to red

everted rims: A1a, A1f

minor baked clay and shell contents

13

beige shallow and short lens with little to cultural material

No cultural material

No cultural material

14

black shallow and short lens with little to no cultural material

No cultural material

No cultural material

15

light grey to beige

  • • everted rims: A1a, A1b, A1c, A1e, A1f, A1g, A1h, A1i
  • • concave rims: A2a
  • • restricted vessels: B1a, B2a
  • • unrestricted vessels: C1a, C1b, C2a, C3a
  • • wavy rimmed unrestricted vessels: D1a
  • • cà ràng rims and projection sherds: E1a, E2b

None

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Fig.5.27.tif

Figure 5.27. Proportion of rim forms by layer, Trench 2. No rim sherds were recovered from layers 11, 13 and 14.

Source: C. Sarjeant.

Discussion of the spatial distribution of ceramic forms

The aim of the comparison between Trenches 1 and 2 was to determine the usage of different spaces on site and the chronology of Trench 2 compared to the more extensive sequence of Trench 1. Comparative pie charts of the proportions of each rim form for Trenches 1 and 2 are presented in Figure 5.28.

Trench 1 displayed a distinct chronological sequence of changing ceramic forms for An Sơn. The forms from Trench 1, squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2, showed a progression similar to that presented for Trench 1 in general. All of the everted rim forms were present in the upper and middle layers, except for A1g and A1i-r. The concave rim forms were present throughout the sequence, except for the basal layer 8. A2b was only present in layers 5, 6 and 7, and A2c was absent from layers 1, 6 and 8. The everted rim classes A1 and A2 comprised the majority of the assemblage of these six Trench 1 squares. With the exception of B2a in layer 7, forms B2 and B3 were absent from these six squares, . C1a was present throughout the sequence, except in layers 5 and 8, while C1b was also present throughout the sequence, except in the basal layer 8. C2a was absent in layers 1 and 8, C2b was present throughout the sequence except in layer 8, and C3 forms were present mid-sequence in layers 5, 6 and 7. In terms of the cà ràng projections, the square-shaped projections (E2a) were absent in the upper layer 1 and the rounded projections (E2b) were absent from layer 7. D2 forms were generally rare in Trench 1 in comparison to D1 forms. The cà ràng forms, class E, were rare in Trench 1.

Trench 2 contained a wide spread of ceramic rim forms. There was a much higher proportion of cà ràng class E sherds, C3a inverted rimmed restricted vessels, and D2a serrated rim sherds in Trench 2 compared to Trench 1. The everted rippled A1i-r rims were present in layers 5, 6 and 7. A1d was absent from Trench 2. B1 forms were present in layers 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 15. B2 forms were rare in Trench 2, while B3 forms were only present in layers 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7. Form C1a was present in all layers, except those with few remains, and C1b was present in all layers except 9 and 10. C2 forms were rare in Trench 2 and were only present in layer 8. The rounded-shaped projections of cà ràng class E vessels were absent from layer 15, and the square projections were absent from layer 4.

Other material culture at An Sơn Trench 1 indicated a use of shouldered stone adzes earlier in the sequence that were later replaced by unshouldered adzes. The transition evidently occurred in Trench 1 layer 5, in which both shouldered and unshouldered adzes were recovered (see Figure 4.53 and Figure 4.54). Ceramic roundels, clay pellets, baked clay lumps, and sandstones and whetstones for maintaining stone tools were only observed mid-sequence in Trench 1, layers 5 and 6. The intensity of occupation at An Sơn was evident in layers 5 and 6 with an increase in the variety of material culture in these layers of Trench 1.

The higher proportion of cà ràng sherds and black, ashy deposited lenses in Trench 2 compared to Trench 1 was suggestive of cooking activities. Additionally a greater quantity of fired clay lumps in Trench 2 (see Chapter 4) suggests that they were related to cooking, perhaps for heat retention in earth ovens. The higher proportion of class B restricted bowls in Trench 2 compared to Trench 1 may also suggest a relationship between these vessels and cooking. Ceramic vessels tempered with plant materials are more resilient to thermal shock in cooking practices. The silica in rice husks, which is frequently used as a temper in the ceramic vessels from An Sơn, survives in environments of high firing and increases the ability of a ceramic vessel to survive repeated heating in cooking processes (Tomber, Cartwright and Gupta 2011). Many of the frequently occurring vessels in Trench 2 were fibre tempered, namely the cà ràng class E, B1a, B3a, C1a and C1b forms. As already shown, a larger number of sand-tempered rather than fibre-tempered sherds were recovered from Trench 2. However, these were largely restricted to the A1a and A2a forms, which were very common forms at the site in general.

A stone item with a ground circle in the centre may have been used to light a fire in Trench 2 (found in square C5, layer 3). Clay pellets, shell beads, gastropod shells and stone flakes were found throughout the layers of Trench 2, while concretions were only present in layers 6, 7 and 8, indicating that burning of shell and/or animal remains took place within these layers. Ceramic roundels were present in higher quantities in Trench 1 compared to Trench 2, indicating a possible spatial separation in their use and discard. In Trench 2 there was a higher proportion of shouldered adzes than unshouldered adzes. The presence of some unshouldered adzes indicates that Trench 2 relates chronologically to layer 5 in Trench 1.

Since rice husk was present in the fabrics of ceramic sherds, it may be presumed that rice was cooked at An Sơn. In particular the subspecies identified to Oryza sativa japonica by Katsunori Tanaka from the Research Institute of Humanity and Nature, Japan. The faunal remains indicate that fish (snakehead, swamp eel and climbing perch), pig and dog were cooked in Trench 2, as well as pond, box and water turtles. However, in general, only small numbers of wild mammals and reptiles were recovered from An Sơn, and were probably a small component of the diet in comparison to domestic dog and pig (Piper et al. 2012).

The remains from Trench 1 indicate the successive dumping of cultural remains down the side of the mound. Most of these deposits overlaid the burials or the burials were cut through the layers in Trench 1. Conversely, there was a definite restricted area with cooking remains in Trench 2 and this area did not necessarily overlay the one extended burial (burial 3) in this trench. It is possible the cooking activities occurred contemporaneously with the burial or before the burial was interred, and the burial was later cut though the midden.

Fig.5.28a.tifFig.5.28b.tif

Figure 5.28. Comparison of proportions of each rim form between Trench 1 (squares A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2) (left) and Trench 2 (right).

Source: Compiled by C. Sarjeant.

Summary: The sequence and distribution of ceramics at An Sơn

In this chapter the rim forms and decorations have been categorised and sequences established for the ceramic assemblage at An Sơn (Figure 5.1, Figure 5.17, Table 5.8, Table 5.9). The sequence of rim forms (Table 5.1) in the 2009 and 1997 basal layers excavated at An Sơn showed that there was a dominance of class A2 and B forms at initial occupation. The decorated varieties of A2 forms are likely to have been introduced soon after this initial settlement, with the appearance of roulette stamped shoulder decoration. After this initial phase, the proportion of A2 vessels diminished and the assemblage was composed of A1 forms in the subsequent sequence. Form B1b was initially the most common class B vessel form at An Sơn, and was replaced by form B1a early in the sequence. Class C forms were few in the earliest occupation of the site but increased in variety and numbers mid-sequence, and were present through to the later part of the sequence. Class D forms were absent during the initial occupation, but form D1a appeared soon after and transitioned to form D2a in the mid to late part of the sequence. Class E (the cà ràng stove) was absent during initial occupation, but appeared in greater numbers mid-sequence. The square-shaped cà ràng projections (form E2a) were representative of the early- to mid-sequence, and the rounded projections (form E2b) were representative of the mid- to late-sequence. The greatest quantity of decorated sherds was observed mid sequence, at which time the variety of decoration increased, much like the number of rim form variants. The earliest decorative modes were coarse cordmarking and coarse punctate stamping. These were followed closely by the introductions of red painting, roulette stamping and various incised motifs (Table 5.9).

Complete vessels were most frequently associated with burial contexts, and thus included some ritualistic decorated vessels, although some reconstructable complete utilitarian and decorated vessels were also recovered from the dumping layers in Trench 1. The distribution of rim forms reinforce the claim that Trench 1 was representative of the entire neolithic sequence at An Sơn, except for the earliest occupation of the site, as represented by the base of the 1997 excavation and the 2009 Test Square. The dumping layers were also associated with adze flakes, and whetstones and polishing stones for the manufacture of stone adzes. Since the majority of the flakes had polished surfaces, it is interpreted that Trench 1 was a location for reworking and retouching stone adzes. A less likely scenario is that Trench 1 was used as a place to discard the debitage created from reworking activities in another area of the site. There is no evidence for manufacturing new adzes from raw materials in the site. Trench 1 was also utilised for the burial of individuals with mortuary offerings, but these interments were not necessarily in direct association with the refuse layers, and appear to have been cut through them.

While Trench 2 also included human burials, the majority of the cultural materials were related to cooking activities. These included a high proportion of sherds from class E cà ràng stove vessels in association with many baked clay lumps, concreted faunal remains and ceramic sherds. There were also areas of charcoal in Trench 2 which indicate cooking. Most of the material appeared to be late in the An Sơn sequence, with a high number of D2a sherds compared to earlier localities in the site, such as Trench 1.

This study of rim forms and surface treatment/decoration has been informative for understanding the ceramic sequence at An Sơn. The study of spatial distribution has aided in determining the functions of certain forms, in either utilitarian or ritualistic contexts. Combined with the fabric analysis that follows in Chapter 6, this chapter provides a characterisation of the ceramic assemblage for comparison between An Sơn and other sites in the region (as presented in Chapters 8 and 9).


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