An experience of the experimental use-wear analysis of tools made of pottery shards (based on the materials of the fortified settlement of Maray 4) 

Kostomarova Yu.V.




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The paper concerns the determination of the functional purpose of scraper-shaped pottery tools of the fortified settlement of Marai 4 of the initial period of the Early Bronze Age. The site is located in the territory of the Lower Ishim River basin in Kazan District of Tyumen Oblast. Its materials are dated to the 6th (7th) end of the 5th centuries BCE; culture-wise, they belong to the circle of the Zhuravlevo antiquities. The collection of the pottery scrapers of the site amounts to 78 items. Initially, the majority of them were interpreted as scrapers for fleshing. However, a series of features gave rise to doubts, and the problem of the functional purpose of the scraper-like implements from Maray 4 remained open. In order to elaborate and correct the conclusions, in 20192022 the author conducted experiments on the use of pottery shards in the process of skin treatment, wood scraping, abrasive treatment of copper and bronze, in pottery making at the stage of smoothing, compacting and sleeking the walls of pottery containers. The purpose of this paper is to present the results of the experimental use-wear study of the scraper-like pottery artefacts from the Early Iron Age sites of Maray 4. The investigation is based upon the use of the experimental use-wear method, which involves the study of the traces of wear on the surface of implements, and their functional attribution. The use-wear analysis and microphotography of the traces of wear were carried out with the aid of a pancratic microscope MC-2 Z00M with a magnification from 10× to 40×with a Canon EOS-1100 camera. The performed studies allowed refining the previously conjectured hypothesis on the functional purpose of the scraper-shaped tools from Maray 4 and reaching the conclusion that most of them were used for smoothing and compacting the surface of pottery vessels. This conclusion is supported by the preliminary view of V.V. Ilyushina based upon the comparison of available reference experimental samples of surface treatment of clay vessels with pottery tools with the vessels from the site.

Keywords: Lower Ishim river areas, the beginning stage of the Iron Age, the Maray 4 site, the usewear analysis, the ceramic scrapers.


Acknowledgements. I am grateful to S.N. Skochina for the opportunity to use the results of the experimental work and V.V. Iliushina for the preliminary opinion on the surface treatment of dishes from the fortified settlement of Maray 4.

Funding. The work was carried out within the framework of state assignments: project No. 121041600045-8.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 29.09.2021

Article is published: 15.12.2022


Kostomarova Yu.V., Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Chervishevskiy trakt, 13, Tyumen, 625008, Russian Federation, E-mail:,