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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Cardium Pottery
  • Neolithic
  • Mediterranean
  • Holocene
  • sea level rise
  • sequence stratigraphy

Index Terms

  • 1165 Geochronology: Sedimentary geochronology
  • 4902 Paleoceanography: Anthropogenic effects
  • 1105 Geochronology: Quaternary geochronology
  • 1641 Global Change: Sea level change



The Influence of Transgressive Paleogeography on the Development and Decline of Cardium Pottery Culture (Mediterranean Neolithic)

A. Amorosi

Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e Geologico-Ambientali, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

A. Morelli

Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e Geologico-Ambientali, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Cardium Pottery is a decorative style which developed in the Mediterranean area during the Early Neolithic. The distinctive feature of Cardium Pottery Culture is the imprinting of the clay with the shell of the mollusc Cardium edule. Owing to its rapid expansion and relatively short duration (from a few centuries to about one millennium), this culture represents a powerful archeological marker for the Neolithic of the Mediterranean area. Despite the key role played by this archeological facies, the reasons for its appearance and disappearance are strongly debated in archeological circles and still far from a solution. Through the combination of stratigraphic and sedimentological data from the subsurface of modern Mediterranean coastal plains, this study puts a geological perspective into Cardium Pottery Culture, suggesting early to mid-Holocene changes in paleogeography across the Mediterranean as factors that influenced its origin, development, and (possibly) demise. Integration of radiocarbon and cultural ages shows that Cardium Pottery Culture grew during the early Holocene in concomitance with the widespread development of brackish environments within transgressive, barrier-lagoon-estuary systems, in which huge amounts of shells were made available. The landward migration of the shoreline, which occurred in response to the Holocene sea level rise, likely induced the progressive penetration of this culture toward more internal regions. The decline of Cardial Culture, among other (sociocultural) factors, was possibly favored by lagoon infilling in response to generalized mid-Holocene coastal progradation, which very rapidly made Cardium shells unavailable for ceramic decoration.

Citation: Amorosi, A., and A. Morelli (2012), The influence of transgressive paleogeography on the development and decline of Cardium Pottery Culture (Mediterranean Neolithic), in Climates, Landscapes, and Civilizations, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 198, edited by L. Giosan et al., 171–176, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2012GM001205.


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