A typology was established for more than 5000 ceramic artifacts at Dolni Věstonice, Czechoslovakia. Conjectured methods of manufacture were confirmed by radiography. The compositions and mineralogy of the artifacts were identical to those of the local soil, loess. A firing temperature range of 500° to 800°C was measured and compared with those of hearths and kilns. The mechanism of sintering was impurity-initiated, liquid-phase sintering. Many fracture sections show evidence of thermal shock, although thermal expansion of the loess is low. The making, firing, and sometimes exploding of the figurines may have been the prime function of the ceramics at this site rather than being manufactured as permanent, portable objects.
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