The most ancient ceramics found in Alsace date from the early Neolithic period, around 5500 BC. Several types of these pieces, with rounded bottoms, have survived: large storage vases, usually undecorated, intermediate vases used to prepare soups and porridges, and finally thinner and smaller vases used to serve food. The larger recipients are fitted with one or two rows of small handles: grains were stored in these vases, which were hung above the ground, in order to protect these supplies against small rodents. The tumblers, made of very fine black clay, were typically decorated with an incised design before firing, in this case a dotted wavy line decoration all around the belly of the piece. Because of the widespread use of this motif, the earliest Neolithic civilisation in central Europe is referred to as the Linear Pottery culture, which flourished from 5500 to 4900 BC.