Neolithic Stamps: Cultural Patterns, Processes and Potencies
Decorated clay stamps carrying a culturally filtered range of abstract designs are one of the most visually striking but problematic categories of portable art found at Neolithic and Copper Age sites in western Asia and southern Europe. This article proposes a revised account of their production, consumption and changing values across space and time, by emphasizing their biographies, human relations and cultural embeddedness. They were sometimes worn as amulets, but primarily designed to be hand-held printing and impressing tools, used to reproduce copies of powerful graphic images on the surface of other cultural materials. It is argued that their potent signatures repeatedly attached, revealed and reproduced significant cultural concepts and relations across different people and practices and across the material and supernatural worlds.(Received December 7 2006)
(Revised February 19 2007)
Key Words: clay stamps; Neolithic art; cultural symbolism.