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Archaeology & History

5,000-year-old fingerprint found on Orkney

By T.K. Randall
April 23, 2021 · Comment icon 2 comments

Excavations have been underway at the site since 2003. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Stevekeiretsu
Archaeologists have unearthed a pottery shard that still bears the fingerprint of the person who made it.
The fascinating find was made at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Archaeology Institute's flagship excavation site at Ness of Brodgar on Scotland's Orkney Islands.

Several modern techniques were used to identify the print including Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) which involves taking multiple photographs using different controlled light sources.

The resulting images were then combined to produce a 3D computer model of the artefact.
"Working on such a high-status site as the Ness of Brodgar, with its beautiful buildings and stunning range of artefacts, it can be all too easy to forget about the people behind this incredible complex," said excavation director Nick Card.

"But this discovery really does bring these people back into focus."

It is hoped that an analysis of the print will ultimately reveal the age and gender of the potter.

Source: BBC News | Comments (2)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Still Waters 2 years ago
Updated: Prehistoric pottery fingerprints 'left by two men' Archaeologists believe fingerprints left on a piece of Neolithic pottery belonged to two young men. A single print was first discovered in April on the fragment of a clay vessel unearthed at Orkney's Ness of Brodgar archaeological site. Further analysis identified two more prints, but only two of the three fingerprints had enough detail for archaeologists to study properly. They think one was aged between 13 and 20 and the other 15 and 22.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Still Waters 2 years ago
Another update: Fingerprints point to 5,000-year-old Orkney pottery class Archaeologists believe fingerprints on fragments of clay found in Orkney were left by experienced potters and their young apprentice 5,000 years ago. Experts have newly identified a print left by a 13-year-old boy. Previously finger marks left by a young male, possibly the same boy, and two adult men were discovered on fragments of pottery at Orkney's Ness of Brodgar. Archaeologists suggest the prints were left as experienced potters showed novices how to shape a piece of clay. [More]

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