In the Neolithic and early Chalcolithic, human beings began to practise farming and animal husbandry, but they also invented new materials. A case in point is ceramic, obtained from clay. This material was used to form vessels that turned out to be very hard and durable once fired, and unique once decorated.
The various vessels made in this period have different shapes, each intended to serve a specific purpose. For example, pots have a wide mouth that made it easy to add and stir solid or liquid foods. Bottles have a narrow neck that channels fluid and keeps it from spilling when poured. They could also be hung and carried easily thanks to their pierced handles. The hemispherical shape of bowls was perfect for holding, serving and eating food. But humans also made more complex vessels such as the bell beaker, with its distinctive flared design and ornate decoration. In fact, this type of beaker had a very special purpose, as one of the wares used in ritual banquets and ceremonies.
Many of these pottery pieces have more or less complex decoration. The three round plaques on display illustrate some of the typical Neolithic decorative techniques. The first plaque was decorated by applying bits of clay—nipples, lugs or cords—to the surface of the vessel. The second features impressed decoration made by pressing fingers or shell edges into the clay while it was still soft. The third plaque has incised decoration made with a stylus or comb.