What Is A Date Bracket?; La Tène Pottery; Star Carr

What Is A Date Bracket?

A date bracket gives a date from which an artefact may belong, for example, an item found in Roman Britain may date from the Roman period there between AD 43 and AD 410. With further analysis, a closer date may be found, but initially the date bracket is between these two dates.

The terms used for date brackets are Terminus post quem and Terminus ante quem.

Terminus post quem (TPQ)

  • Latin – limit after which
  • This is the earliest date that an artefact may be dated to.

Terminus ante quem (TAQ)

  • Latin – Limit before which
  • This is the latest date that an artefact may be dated to.

These terms can be used when dating artefacts, but also for certain events, in or around a certain time, as well as peoples lives when exact dates are unknown.


Archaeology Wow!! –  La Tène Pottery

La Tène Pottery is named after a style of pottery that is associated with a European Iron Age site at La Tène near Neuenburgersee, Switzerland. A site containing elaborate metalwork, burials and distinctive pottery was first discovered by Hansli Kopp in 1857 and dated to between 450 BC – 1st century AD.

Desborough Mirror ©Wiki Commons
Desborough Mirror
©Wiki Commons

La Tène developed from the Hallstatt Culture and is known for its distinctive metalworking designs in gold, iron and bronze.  The designs spread through Europe, into Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Southern Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Romania. At later dates the metalwork and pottery were also found in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Northern Spain, and Burgundy, moved around through trade and exchange networks.

La Tène Pottery ©Sue Carter after Trustees, British Museum
La Tène Pottery
©Sue Carter after Trustees, British Museum

La Tène pottery is distinctive for its angular profile, as above. Common pottery included globular jars with omphalos bases, pedestaled urns and foot ring jars. The pottery was produced on a wheel which enabled a more uniform design.

The pottery was used for many purposes, and their designs and distinctive features make them stand out from others at the time. Art style was clearly evident demonstrating an increase in the decoration of goods being made, plus more care and attention to the finished product.


  • British Museum. 1925. Guide To Early Iron Age Antiquities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Gibson. A. M. 1997. Prehistoric Pottery for the Archaeologist. London: A&C Black.
  • Desborough Mirror – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Romano-Celtic_mirror_(Desborough).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Romano-Celtic_mirror_(Desborough).jpg


Archaeological Site Guide – Star Carr, Yorkshire, England

Star Carr is a Mesolithic site in North Yorkshire in England, and considered the most important Mesolithic site in Britain. It dates from 9,500 BC and shows how early settlers in Britain exploited the resources available to them.

Star Car Barbed Antler ©Wiki Commons
Star Car Barbed Antler
©Wiki Commons

The site had a rich material culture, including barbed weapons for hunting and harpoons – 192 barbed antler and bone points have been found. Pierced and worked antler masks have been uncovered which are thought to have been used for ceremonies and that a community of people inhabited the site, beleived to be around 4-5 families. With the abundance of weapons it is beleived that hunting played an important part in the community life.

Star Carr Mask ©Wiki Commons
Star Carr Mask
©Wiki Commons

The site was next to a lake and due to the wet ground many artefacts have been well preserved. An oar has been found which shows that the people used some sort of watercraft on the lake. A 6m long wooden platform made of split and worked timbers has been uncovered along the original lake side showing that the people were taming their environment and making use of their resources. Evidence also shows that they burned some of the lake reeds showing further evidence of control.

Stone tools were manufactured at the site and flint scatters have been found. These could have been used for weapons, but also for harvesting the rolls of Birch stems and brushwood rolls that have been uncovered. Paddles, handles and pinewood have also been found that would have been harvested too, with the pinewood being bought in from another area as it did not grow near the site.

Personal items of stone and amber beads have also been found showing that the occupants liked to wear jewelry, and the remains of a dog gives a clue to the early domestication of dogs in Britain.

An amazing site which has given us so much information about the first settlers of Britain!


  • Clark. G.195.Excavations at Star Carr: An Early Mesolithic Site at Seamer Near Scarborough, Yorkshire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bailey. G., & Spikins. P. 2008. Mesolithic Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Star Car Barbed Antler – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Star_Carr_spear_tips_01.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Star_Carr_spear_tips_01.jpg
  • Star Carr Mask – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Star_Carr_headdress_cropped.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Star_Carr_headdress_cropped.JPG


Great Books to Read…….


Great Web Pages to Look At…….

 Activity –  

2 Comments on “What Is A Date Bracket?; La Tène Pottery; Star Carr

  1. Pingback: Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #3 | Doug's Archaeology

  2. Pingback: Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #2 | Doug's Archaeology

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