Archaeologists have excavated zoomorphic feeding vessels like this at various sites in Europe. We have based our designs on two particular finds when creating these charming little replicas, one that was discovered in Vosendorf, Austria, and one unearthed at Znojmo, Czech Republic.
We took further inspiration from the various vessels featured in a paper by Dr Julie Dunne at al, University of Bristol. The research looked at burials dated to the Bronze and Iron Ages, which contained simpler feeding vessels consisting of a small bowl with a thin tube protruding off the side, similar in shape but larger than a clay pipe. However, the earliest known clay feeding vessels that ancient peoples may have used to feed infants are said to be from Neolithic Europe.
Due to their location in infant graves, and chemical analysis that indicates these early communities used them to feed milk products from ruminants, researchers believe that these vessels may have been used to feed infants. Although it is also possible Bronze Age and Iron Age peoples used them to feed the sick.
If used for supplementing a babies diet, then introducing this type of vessel to help wean a baby could mark an essential change in how our ancestors cared for their children and the number of children a family could support. By enabling a mother to stop or reduce breastfeeding of a baby or small child, it would allow her the time and energy to have another child. This change could have significantly altered the population of a community, allowing it to grow much faster.
Smoke fired Terracotta
Approx. - Height 9.5 mm, diameter 80 mm Vösendorf (Austria)
Approx. - Height 70 mm, diameter 80 mm Znojmo (Czech Republic)
Completely hand-built, from clays similar in character to those used by the original potters, this vessel has been fired in a wood fire to emulate the original's surface colouration. It has finished with beeswax polish, a material also identified in residue analysis of the originals. When there is evidence of Neolithic potters' tool use, I have replicated such tools using stone, wood, shell, bone, and antler based on original finds or information gained from marks on original artefacts.
We have fired this pot to emulate the ancient firing conditions. The original pot was fired in an open wood fire, in close contact with the fuel, a process that leaves its mark on the clay as variations in the surface colour. However, the low temperatures achieved in open firings also result in relatively weak pots, so this pot has been fired to a somewhat higher temperature to strengthen it, in a unique firing process that allows me to achieve an authentic appearance to the pot.
Health & Safety
This vessel is a Museum Quality Replica and is not intended for use. You should under no circumstances use this vessel to feed a baby or ill person (or anyone). Years of research and technology have gone into the production of modern, safe products for the care of babies and the sick. Use those instead!
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