Implement Petrology Conference: Stone Artefacts as Material and Symbolic markers in Cultural Landscapes: an International Perspective, York Museum 6 – 11 September 2007


Stone tools are one of the most durable forms of evidence that we have for the study of the prehistoric past. This conference explored the various ways in which this material is currently approached, analysed, and interpreted. The contributions reflected a genuine diversity in current approaches, with papers on petrology and geochemistry, on ethnoarchaeology, use wear, technological and contextual studies and explorations of the symbolism and social dimensions of stone in the past.

Conference themes included:

  • The extraction and working of stone
  • The circulation, use, deposition and the meanings of stone artefacts.
  • The relationships between stone artefacts and monuments
  • Stone tools, symbolism and social identity

The abstracts of oral presentations, posters, and stand-alone Poster-PowerPoints can be found below. The proceedings are described here.


Mineralogical Analysis of Stone Implements: An Overview Of Current Technologies

Jens C. Andersen and Gavyn K. Rollinson, Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

Developments in instrumental techniques, digital photography, computerisation, and automation over the last decades have profoundly changed the way that petrological data are collected and processed. These changes vastly enhance the quantity and quality of data available for petrological interpretations and provide excellent opportunities for detailed studies that would previously not have been possible. Petrology of stone implements is a discipline with inherent limitations. Microscopy and analysis require sample preparation, which is inevitably destructive to archaeological artefacts. This severely limits the availability of representative samples. Furthermore, information on potential sources is frequently scarce, and it is difficult to establish the extent of natural variability within and between stone sources and artefacts. The consequent challenge for the petrologist is to make valid and comparable interpretations from such limited material. Information on mineral abundances and interrelations form a major part of a petrological study. Such data can now be collected by fully automated energy-dispersive scanning electron microscopes (ED-SEM): the QEMSCAN system by Intellection, the MLA system by JKTech. Major advantages are that the mineralogy can be documented quantitatively in much greater detail and with much greater precision than previously (30,000 analyses per hour for the QEMSCAN in contrast to typically 300 analyses collected by point counting). Furthermore, quantitative information can be gathered on mineral relations, grain shapes, grain size distributions, trace minerals and other petrologically important variables. Mineral compositional variations (major and minor elements) are ideal tracers for stone artefacts, as sampling errors are easy to eliminate. Mineral compositions are traditionally obtained by electron microprobe, which is still unrivalled in terms of spatial resolution (1-2 µm). Wavelength-dispersive spectrometers, computer control and automation are now routinely employed to maximise spectral resolution and sensitivity as well as resolve complex mineral spectra. A fully automated system can easily provide 50-200 quality mineral analyses on an overnight run. Trace elements and isotopes in minerals are currently measured with a variety of specialist techniques, notably proton-induced x-ray emission (PIXE) and laser ablation ICP-MS. The techniques have great potential because of their excellent sensitivity, although they suffer from temporal variations during analysis and a lack of suitable standard reference materials. Bulk (whole-rock) analysis by x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and ICP-MS remain the quick and cost-effective way of collecting geochemical signatures of stone implements. In particular, the advances in hand-held ED-XRF instrumentation has great promise for compositional data collection in the field. Although these methods provide valuable data, they are particularly sensitive to sampling errors. Furthermore, results must be interpreted in the context of the mineralogy of the material analysed.

The Felsite Industrial Complex of North Roe, Shetland – A Neolithic Axe And Knife Factory

Torben B Ballin, Lithic Research, Stirlingshire

This paper concerns the Neolithic felsite quarrying operations in North Roe, one of the most inhospitable parts of Shetland. The area is characterized by a multitude of tailing piles and workshops, where stone was either extracted or shaped into rough-outs for axes and so-called “Shetland knives”. The stone waste is associated with small oval shelters, possibly for the Neolithic quarries. The paper characterizes the Felsite Industrial Complex as a whole, as well as its component parts, and the organization of felsite extraction and felsite circulation will be dealt with.

Tree Felling in The Service of the New Neolithic Ethos: The Dual Role Of Stone Axes In The Establishment Of Farming Communities In The Levant

Ran Barkai, Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Studies, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.

Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers were roaming around the Levantine landscape for generations, while keeping distinct codes of behaviour and using diverse tool-kits devoid of tree-felling tools. The first tool oriented towards cutting trees, the stone axe, joined the tool-kit at the earliest stage of the formation of Neolithic life ways. These life ways were based on intensive exploitation of the environment, contravention of the balance between Man and Nature, and the evolution of a complex social structure. The study of Neolithic axes indicates continuous technological and functional transitions, reflecting a tendency towards constant improvement and intensification. This continuum of changes and acceptance of changing technologies, supported by archaeological evidence and ethnographic studies, emphasizes the centrality of the axe a working tool, a symbol, and an ideological icon. Stone axes were perceived as tools of efficiency, a characteristic greatly admired during the Neolithic. The Neolithic socio-economic system supported and encouraged the rapid improvements in stone axes leading towards an efficient use of natural resources and the intensification of human production in the service of the new Neolithic ethos. This presentation will discuss the characteristics of Levantine Neolithic axes and the way these tools reflect the new Neolithic perceptions leading towards the creation of the well known ‘world-of-progress’ and changing the face of the earth.

Biographies of Stone And Landscape: Lithic Scatters

Clive Bond, Department of Archaeology, The University of Winchester.

Lithic scatters are complex palimpsests. The artefacts recovered, cores, waste and tools, when interpreted in their landscape context often appear to constitute multiple episodes of activity. These seasonal and cyclical episodes represent different lengths of duration or function. In this paper are assemblages presented, mostly of flint, with hones and/or whetstones of greenstone and sandstone from central Somerset, UK. Arguably, these assemblages demonstrate the intrinsic cultural value of the stone worked, discarded and a long term attachment to each locale: revisits over generations. Keyed into changing perceptions of artefacts and landscape was the creation of a biography of place. Therefore, the working, use and intentional discard of stone artefacts over millennia acted as a symbolic marker for successive generations within this wet/dry land topography. Stone artefacts when discarded acted as a resource for cultural memory fixing social identity in this landscape of memory.

Raw Material

Richard Bradley (Keynote address), University of Reading.

When we consider stone axes, our first thoughts often involve their mechanical performance. The same applies to the choice of stones for building monuments or to the locations of early mines and quarries. But different societies may place other values on what we, as archaeologists, think of as ‘raw materials’ and that very term needs to be handled with care. This paper will consider some of the choices made by prehistoric people when they formed artefacts out of stone, and certain of the ways in which their preferences seem to have been shaped by culture considerations that go beyond the conventional limits of technology. The stone artefacts that we study certainly formed part of an ancient ‘material culture’, but can their creation and use also shed light on the importance of ‘cultural materials’? It is a difficult question, but it is one that extends well beyond the limits of the Stone Age.

Tracing The Diffusion Of A Late Neolithic Skilled Production: Petrographical And Geochemical Characterization Of Cenozoic Flints From North-Western Mediterranean

C. Bressy , W. Abouchami , Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Mainz, Germany.

The Late Neolithic (circa 3.300 to 2.300 B.C.) in Europe is characterized among others by the diffusion over great distances of long flint blades (up to 35 cm) produced in specialized workshops. We focused on one of those workshops, located in the Largue Valley (Haute-Provence, South-East France), which exploited exceptional outcrops of Oligocene banded brown flints. Using this specific raw material as fingerprint, we aimed at deciphering blade diffusion modalities and the span of this trade network. A combined petrographic, trace element and isotopic study was undertaken at the Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie of Mainz (Germany) on Largue Valley geological samples. Petrography of the Largue Valley reveals a large variability of facies which offer the opportunity to identify several areas of raw material exploitation. However specific micropalaeontological content allows us to discriminate Largue Valley flints from those of other Oligocene basins of Southern France. However at a larger scale, facies convergences exist between Largue and Ebre Valley flints which were also exploited for the production of long blades involved in large scale diffusion networks. Geochemistry provides discriminating patterns for Largue valley flints with in particular high Nb (2-15 ppm) and Zr (4-32 ppm) contents compared to the other Cenozoic flints analysed from Southern France and Northern Spain. The analysis, with the same approaches, of archaeological blades from Provence and Languedoc (Southern France), Catalonia (Spain) and Neuchâtel (Switzerland) shows that Largue Valley skilled productions have been exported over 400 km from their raw material sources. Our results infer directly on intercultural relationships amongst Southern Europe Late Neolithic groups.

Native American Mineral Resource Exploitation In The New York Metropolitan Area, Usa

Margaret C. Brewer, Philip C. LaPorta, LaPorta and Associates, L.L.C., USA.

Native Americans were afforded diverse mineral resources in the New York metropolitan area: the Precambrian terrain (Hudson Highlands physiographic province) provides small quantities of mica, red ochre, and graphite; the Cambrian-Ordovician terrain (Ridge and Valley terrine) contains nodular cherts and galena; the Ordovician-age Taconic highlands province produce quartz veins, silver, and lead ores; nodular cherts and argillite are present in Silurian-Devonian foreland basin regions; and the Mesozoic rocks of the Piedmont province hold native copper, basalt, diorite, and hornfels. These mineral resources were quarried during different times through prehistory. The archaeological record reveals that the earliest inhabitants (Paleoindian at 13,000-9,000 BP) were intimate with the mineral resources of the Outer Piedmont physiographic province. Lithic resource exploitation within the Ridge and Valley province intensified during the Archaic period (9,000-3.500 B.P.). Terminal Archaic and Transitional periods (3,500-3,000 B.P.) see a revisitation to the Paleoindian and Early Archaic exploited resources in the Inner Piedmont. By the Woodland period (3,000-400 B.P.), inhabitants appear to have an understanding of mineral resources across all provinces. The cultural chronology of the area requires a model of prehistoric land utilization over a 12,000-year continuum

Erratics And Recycled Stone In Prehistoric Britain And Beyond: Scholarly Irrelevancies Or Fundamental Utilities?

Stephen Briggs

Nineteenth-century Britain saw the birth of archaeology and geology. Both were rapidly subdivided; the idea of prehistory only being accepted after c 1860, while from the 1820s glaciation was a key problem for pre-Darwinian scientists to fathom. Once glaciation became fact, a popular movement developed to collect and identify erratics, in Britain from c 1870-1914. Vast numbers of erratics were also identified or collected throughout Europe, with particular interest paid to Scandinavian and Alpine rock-types. Current views on glacial direction and extent are still largely based on this work because collecting and identifying re-cycled stone long since ceased to be fashionable. Other earth processes can also re-cycle stone long distances in quantity. In Europe, the Bunter pebble-beds at the base of the Triassic are a good example. Their content in Britain probably has a bearing on the origins of ‘Cornish greenstone axes’. Early artefact petrographic identifications studies drew heavily on the evidence of re-cycled stone, at a time when prehistoric peoples were seen as scavengers. With the establishment of routine implement petrography came the (more attractive) notion of trade, but because it was very difficult to interpret some distributions in commercial terms, more sophisticated theories of behaviour developed. And as theory expanded to include the social and spiritual motivation of primitive peoples, the potential value re-cycled stone was eventually lost sight of. Indeed, some prehistorians nowadays argue that prehistoric peoples ignored accessible usable materials in favour of those brought from distant sources because of the carry different ‘identities’. Thus, this aspect of prehistory has passed from an evidence-based empirical study to occupy a firm place in post-Modernist academe. Whereas the petrographic identities of many implements are now known in great detail, no comparable quantitative or qualitative data exists for re-cycled stone such as glacial erratic. This imbalance in knowledge can only be addressed if the public is persuaded to attach greater value to collecting stray stones and museums are willing to identify them. There is no reason why the scientific skills brought to bear on artefact studies should not equally profit from studying re-cycled stone. Pursued in tandem, the two studies can only enhance both archaeological and geological knowledge and gain the confidence of a public keen to see the return of respectful debate to our branch of learning.

Movements Inside Stones: Form-Function Dynamics Analysis From Ethno Archaeological Lithic Contacts: Exploring Methodologies

Ivan Briz Godino, Department of Archaeology, University of York.

From our theoretical approach (Marx, 1978 and 1992; Marx and Hobsbawm, 1964), we need to develop methodologies in order to identify properly the social dimension of the archaeological record. This social dimension, although not exclusively has, essentially, an economic entity. Therefore, from this approach we can withdraw the typological and historical-cultural traditions followed for the analysis of the lithic assemblages. These, can be analyzed as economical objects where the socio-economical conditions of a human group are reflected (Briz et al., 2005). As an economical object, they are the subject where the implemented forms of both production and consumption have been associated. When tools have been used, this correlation between production and consumption will be reflected in the dynamics of the correlation between form and function, in the frame of an archaeological unit considered significative at the social level. In the present case (Briz, 2002, 2004 and i.p.), it is the site Tunel VII, which corresponds to an ethnoarchaeological research (Estévez et al., i.p.) about the Yámana fisher-hunter-gatherer society of Tierra del Fuego.

Lithics And Social Life: Approaches to Artefacts And Social Dynamics. (Applications of Distinctive Research Methodologies To A Mesolithic Assemblage From March Hill, Central Pennines)

Ivan Briz1, Myrian A. lvarez2 and Penny Spikins1, 1 Department of Archaeology, University of York., 2 Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas-CONICET (Argentina).

Different cultural and research traditions have led to distinctively different approaches to lithics analysis and interpretations of inter-site spatial patterning in early prehistoric sites. An integration of such different approaches can often give new ‘ways of seeing’ artefact assemblages and distribution patterns and valuable insights into past activities. Here we present the preliminary results of a project integrating detailed analytical techniques focused on processes of production and consumption and social dynamics in ethnarchaeological contexts in Tierra del Fuego with existing detailed lithics analysis at a high definition Mesolithic sites in the Central Pennines. Such methods taken from Argentina (Alvarez) and Spain (Briz) that were developed in ethnoarchaeological contexts employed detailed edge morphological analysis and use wear. When applied to site A at March Hill, these techniques yielded interesting new insights about activities at the site, and provided a test case for such techniques in an high definition archaeological assemblage.

Reconsidering the Function Of Stone Grave Goods In Early Bronze Age Britain

David Bukach1, John Hunter1, Ann Woodward1, Phil Potts2, Peter Webb2, John Watson2, Rob Ixer3, Fiona Roe. 1 Birmingham University. 2 Open University. 3 University of Leicester

The exotic grave goods from burials of the ‘Wessex Culture’ in Early Bronze Age Britain are well known and have inspired influential social and economic hypotheses, invoking the existence of chiefs, warriors, merchants and high-ranking pastoralists. These traditional interpretations are now being queried, especially through a renewed interest in the archaeology of ancient religious activity. A major Leverhulme project is cataloguing relevant Beaker and Early Bronze Age burial assemblages and investigating their significance. Results from this analysis, which incorporates an examination of use wear, fragmentation and provenance (using portable XRF techniques and non-invasive petrography) of stone objects found in selected Beaker and Early Bronze Age barrow graves in England, will be presented. Artefact types include Beaker bracers and grooved whetstones, and perforated whetstones of Early Bronze Age date. This data will be used to test the hypothesis that many these artefacts were originally designed for use as components of ritual costume or as equipment for use in religious acts and ceremonies rather than as expressions of chiefly power.

Reconciling the Symbolic And Economic Dimensions Of Lithic Raw Material Use: Examples From Prehistoric Northeast North America

Adrian L. Burke. Département d’anthropologie, Université de Montréal.

Archaeologists use powerful tools such as geochemistry and petrography to study the movement of stone tools, specifically the raw materials they are made of, across great distances in the past. Notwithstanding formalist versus substantivist debates, it is apparent that during certain periods in the prehistory of North America, specific lithic raw materials and tools were exchanged over large distances primarily for functional-utilitarian reasons or primarily for social-political reasons. I present archaeological examples including contextual data which indicate that some of the siliceous rocks used for chipped tools could and did in fact carry or embody meaning far beyond their place of origin and manufacture. Stone tools, including the quotidian scrapers and bifaces, are often found in ritual contexts that point to the fact that they carried symbolic significance. Rather than try to tease apart which is more important, the symbolic (ritual) or the economic (functional) aspects, I explore the concept that these materials regularly circulated within and between aboriginal North American societies fulfilling both of these roles. Interpretations are based on the multiple meanings that these objects can embody. I use ethnohistoric and ethnographic data critically to flesh out some of these interpretations regarding specific raw materials based on there geological-geographical place of origin as well as their specific qualities (texture, colour, lustre, translucency, and sound?).

Mynydd Rhiw: A Neolithic Stone Extraction Site In Northwest Wales

Steve Burrow, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Cardiff.

Evidence for Neolithic quarrying on Mynydd Rhiw was first identified and excavated in the late 1960s when a small number of pits were identified and excavated. A handful of axes produced from this stone have been found across Wales and bordering counties, up to 160km from the source. In 2005 further evidence for stone extraction was recognized along a 500m length of hill-side. This paper will detail the results of survey and excavation on this mew site and consider the implications for these discoveries for our understanding of the Neolithic in the area.

Life Amongst The Rubbish: Middening And Conspicuous Consumption At Durrington Walls

Benjamin Tun-Yee Chan

Recent excavations at Durrington Walls have revealed a series of archaeological remains unparalleled in Southern Britain. The most artefact-rich part of the site lies just outside the eastern entrance to the henge where a series of five houses were discovered flanking the Durrington Avenue. These houses were surrounded by a large midden comprised of a massive quantity of animal bone, pottery and worked flint. The number of articulated animal bones within the midden is suggestive of large-scale and “wasteful” feasting episodes. This paper will present the preliminary analysis of the worked stone from the midden. Consideration will be given to the extent to which, like the animal bone, the worked stone reflects an emphasis on feasting episodes. The nature of the assemblage, the character of its deposition and its relationship to the adjacent houses will also be highlighted. Durrington Walls represents a site of massive consumption: consumption of labour, wood, meat, pottery and worked stone. The material from the midden will be understood in these terms, as an act of massive, final and conspicuous consumption.

Flint and Tuff In Prehistoric Cumbria

P J Cherry, Implement Petrology Group

Field surveys have revealed a substantial number of lithic scatters on the SW Cumbrian coastal plain and the eastern limestone uplands of Cumbria. The raw materials used for toolmaking in the two areas show interesting contrasts, including: Predominant use of Irish Sea beach pebble flint in SW Cumbria during Late Mesolithic and Neolithic, with minimal importation of chalk flints from Yorkshire and (possibly) Antrim during the Neolithic. In eastern Cumbria, raw materials in the Late Mesolithic were predominantly local cherts but with a significant element of pebble flint and chalk flint from Yorkshire. By the Neolithic, Yorkshire chalk flint had become the dominant raw material. In both locations, pebbles of fine grained volcanic tuff akin to Group VI were being used as a substitute for flint by communities using Late Mesolithic technologies, although there is no evidence for exploitation at source during the Late Mesolithic. Thus in eastern Yorkshire, Late Mesolithic communities can be demonstrated to have been using volcanic tuff at the same time as they were obtaining flint from Yorkshire. A substantial number of flakes of volcanic tuff arising from the use or reworking of stone implements has been found in eastern Cumbria. These provide evidence for different types of stone implements in actual use.

Drawing Short Straws?

Tom Clare, Implement Petrology Group

This paper explores the idea that the movement of axes away from their source of procurement, such as those of Group VI, reflects in part an invisible trade in perishable goods. In particular it hypothesises that the pattern of movement began in the early Neolithic with the means of dispersal of those exotic goods required to establish farming. The implications of this for existing models of the Neolithic are explored and it is suggested that in order to further understanding of both the ‘trade’ in stone axes and the Neolithic in general what is needed is a systematic programme of petrological sourcing of pottery.

The Effect Of Heat Treatment On Pebble Flint From Southwest Scotland

Diana Coles

In 2004 David Clark wrote of the concentrations of arrowheads found at a number of sand dune sites in Scotland that ‘at present we have no narratives that seek to explain, or even acknowledge this situation.’ This paper seeks, through an exploration of the manufacturing processes involved in producing a particular arrowhead from Luce Sands, Wigtownshire, to provide some of the detail to allow the construction of a wider narrative. While heat treatment cannot be proven to have been an integral part of the manufacturing process of fine quality flint artefacts it is undeniably true that: the process is relatively simple and does not require much expenditure of effort; it would seem probable that it would have been discovered accidentally, and it is extremely effective. Furthermore, there is, at present, no alternative explanation for the method by which obdurate pebble flint was rendered compliant enough to produce the many fine arrowheads that have been recovered from the sands. If heat treatments were being used, the flint users of Luce Sands would have had access to a source of attractive and highly workable material from which to produce highly accomplished examples of the knapper’s craft.

Iaxe – The Irish Stone Axe Database

Gabriel Cooney, Stephen Mandal and Emmett O’Keeffe

The Irish Stone Axe Project (ISAP) was set up in the early 1990s. The specific objective of this research project was a survey of all stone axes with an Irish provenance, incorporating the detailed petrological analysis of a significant sample. The project has accumulated data on over 21,000 axes. The database was developed using 4th Dimension, a relational database development tool and consists of three related elements; morphological, contextual locational and curatorial information, illustrations and photographs and petrological information. Taking advantage of the web capabilities of the 4th Dimension database engine and with funding from the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) a web front end is being developed for the ISAP database to create an online database which will be available on the web from autumn 2008. The process of creating the online version of the database has also provided the opportunity to critically review the progress of the project. In this paper the contribution of ISAP to stone axe studies will be outlined and it will be suggested that considerable research potential and value could follow from establishing web-based linkages between national databases.

Everybody Must Get Stones…

Timothy Darvill, School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, UK.

It is now widely recognized that monument building in the fourth and third millennia BC often involved transporting selected blocks of preferred stone many kilometres over difficult terrain. Some structures incorporated blocks from several different sources brought together as an ensemblage in much the same way perhaps that assemblages of flint and stone axes reflect both local and distant sources. This paper explores alternative models accounting for the selection of stones, contrasting those that foreground symbolic attachments and imposed meanings with those that focus on the intrinsic qualities of particular types of stone and its source. The assemblage of different stone types that accumulated at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, over a period of more than a thousand years is used as a case study.

From Implements To Outcrop

Amy Davis, Vin Davis, and Mik Markham, Implement Petrology Committee

Traditionally, the sourcing of prehistoric stone tools in Britain has been done most successfully by comparing the petrological and geochemical characteristics of individual stone tools with rock and debitage from known prehistoric quarry sites and stone tool production sites. However, this is a very rare occurrence because only a very small proportion of stone tools in Britain have a secure archaeological provenance which includes prehistoric quarries or production sites. Substantial numbers of stone tools in the British corpus are chance finds, which lack a secure archaeological context. Through a case study of Carrock Fell and the Implement Petrology Group XXXIV, the paper presents a model for using geological, petrographic and geochemical evidence to identify the probable source of gabbro rock used to manufacture stone axes and shaft-hole implements, and their dispersal across northern England. Techniques for gathering, combining and analysing a range of scientific and statistical data, and interpreting the results alongside archaeological and topographical evidence, are provided and discussed. The model is transferable to other similar contexts where sources of implement rock are sought from apparently random distributions of stone tools.

The Petrology Of The Wong Tei Tung Stone Tool Manufacturing Site, Sham Chung, Hong Kong Sar, China

Vin Davis and Rob Ixer

The Wong Tei Tung archaeological site was discovered in 2003. There are two periods, an early period dating to around 40,000 years bp, and a later period dating to around 7,000 years bp. Initially, reported research found few traits of the Wong Tei Tung assemblage to be similar to Southeast Asia lithics, especially the short axe and Sumatralith cores. It has been reported that the Wong Tei Tung assemblage is a lithic cluster of certain “techno-complex” implements rather than an archaeological culture; it offers a glimpse of lithic manufacturing in adaptation to its particular coastal environment. The published evidence points to a production of stone tools that considerably exceeded immediate local need. It is likely, therefore, that products from the site were distributed widely across the Pearl River Delta area and beyond. The poster generally describes the geological setting of the site; provides new petrographic descriptions using data from thin sections and geochemical analyses; and makes tentative comparisons with similar archaeological stone tool manufacturing sites in Britain.

Is There Anything To Say About The Local Exploitation Of Flint/Chert Sources? Some Thoughts From The Early Prehistory Of Northern Israel (800,000-6,000 Bp)

Christophe Delage

The study of lithic raw material sourcing and procurement patterns has mostly focused on exotic/non-local rocks as the most exciting dimension to provide information about prehistoric societies. It is very true that local rocks constitute the major bulk (often more than 90 %) of lithic assemblages, and this pattern is documented consistently from one site to another, and one period to the next. Moreover, these patterns usually reflect the lithic availability of local landscapes. Yet it would be a mistake to interpret these features, as they are regularly found in the literature, indeterministic and opportunistic terms. As I will argue in this presentation, based on case studies from the Acheulian to the Neolithic (Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Hayonim Cave and Terrace, Eynan, Munhata) in the Near East, the exploitation of local siliceous rocks may provide more varied and complex evidence for knowledge of the landscape and natural resources, cultural choices of specific rocks for particular purposes, and ultimately the social organization. Data offered by the study of lithic assemblages are not unambiguous but combined with other lines of evidence they may help draw a better picture of past human societies, including hunter-gatherers and farmers.

El Jadramil (Arcos De La Frontera, Cadiz, Spain). A New Site Of Underground Prehistoric Mining In Europe

Salvador Domínguez Bella. Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra, Facultad de Ciencias. Universidad de Cádiz.

In the Southwest Spain, this archaeological site of El Jadramil (Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz) presents a great number of vertical cylindrical pits and horizontal subterranean galleries. A new interpretation of this site, with an estimated chronology of the Bronze Age (III-II millenniums B.C.), is presented in this work, in relation with extractive rock processes by means of underground mining. This site shows an interesting archaeological register from agricultural societies and a possible mining exploitation of local raw materials. An aerial prospecting of the site and a geoarchaeological preliminary study of these mining structures were carried out, and a geological approximation at the possible raw material extracted from this site and the technological utilization of this raw material was discussed.

Siliceous Raw Materials In The Lithic Industry Of The Palaeolithic From The North African Shore Of The Gibraltar Strait

S. Domínguez Bella; A. Maate2; R. Morán; J. Ramos1; D, Bernal1 and S. Chamorro3

Department of Earth Sciences, Universidad de Cádiz, Puerto Real, Cádiz, SPAIN.

1 Department of Geography and History, Archaeology Area, Universidad de Cádiz, Cádiz, SPAIN. 2 Department of Geology, Faculté des Sciences, Université Abdelmalek Essaâdi.Tétouan, MAROC. 3 Instituto de Estudios Ceutíes, Ceuta, SPAIN.

In this work between UCA and UAE different geoarchaeological and archaeometrical techniques have been applied for the study of the mineral raw materials in Prehistory of the Strait of Gibraltar. The first data on the typologies, mineralogical and petrological features of different fronts from siliceous raw materials coming from geologic outcrops in the north of Morocco and the south of the province of Cadiz (Spain) are exposed. These analytical ones are being also applied to the study of the lithic tools-industries in the Palaeolithic of the Benzú Rockshelter (Ceuta), an important archaeological deposit with chronologies between >250 Ka and 70 Ka, with a technology that we can define as Mousterian. By means of regional geologic studies, mineralogical studies by means of optical microscopy with thin sections, X-ray diffraction and X-ray Fluorescence, are characterizing the different lithic raw materials coming from the geologic surroundings and the archaeological materials. The Palaeolithic lithic industry of levels 1-4 of the Benzú Rockshelter presents a predominance of siliceous lithologies, with presence of compact sandstones and several types of flint and radiolarites. The comparison with geologic materials of the regional surroundings, in an area around the 70 km. to the north and the south of the Gibraltar Strait, shows in the South border a fundamentally local origin for the lithic resources. The comparison of this registry with the mineral raw materials of the North shore of the strait constitutes a task in accomplishment course and raises-creates the interesting problem of the passage-cross of the Strait by the old human populations.

“They Wrought Almost Any Material That Came In Their Way”: Mesolithic Flint Alternatives In The West Of Ireland

Killian Driscoll, University College Dublin, Ireland.

The title’s quote comes from Knowles’ 1889 paper on his fieldwork, where he collected lithics made from various raw materials. He commented on the difficulty of identifying such lithics and the consequent biases produced in the archaeological record. However, these comments were effectively overlooked, and flint continued until recently to be perceived as the premier lithic raw material: the Antrim flint deposits were regarded as the lynchpin of Irish prehistory, and, when noted, other materials were seen as substitutes rather than proper materials in their own right. This paper will outline the results of research undertaken on the social archaeology of the Mesolithic in the west of Ireland, and discuss how the ‘flint gaze’ has shaped our understandings of prehistory. The paper’s main focus will be on the social implications of the variety of lithic raw materials that were used at that time – materials that included chert, siltstone, greywacke, quartz, slate, flint, tuffs, and rhyolite, as well as other types used in the manufacture of stone axes.

Quartz Technology In Early Prehistoric Ireland: Current Research

Killian Driscoll, University College Dublin, Ireland.

This PhD research project aims to understand the use of quartz as a raw material in the early prehistoric period in Ireland. Archaeologists have invariably ignored quartz as a raw material due to its perceived difficulty in analysis. The basis of the PhD will be the development, through experimental knapping, of an analytical framework for quartz working in Ireland and testing of this framework by a detailed analysis of a Later Mesolithic quartz scatter from Belderrig, Co. Mayo, currently being excavated by Graeme Warren, UCD, as well as a second case study to be decided.

Reinterpreting North American Native Exchange Patterns Through Mineralogical Analysis

Thomas E. Emerson1, Randall E. Hughes2, Sarah U. Wisseman1. 1 University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, 2 Illinois State Geological Survey.

The native peoples of North America’s midcontinent have utilized pipestones (e.g. flint clays and argillites), often from spatially discrete and mineralogically distinct quarries, to carve pipes, statuettes, gorgets, and other ornamental and ritual items for 3000 years. Our decade long mineralogical analysis of pipestone quarries has enabled us to completely transform the understanding of native pipestone use based on earlier macroscopic identifications. In this presentation we concentrate on the archaeological implications of our PIMA TM-SP (portable infrared mineral analyzer) analyses of pipestones for understanding quarry selection and the directionality of raw material and artefact movements in native exchange. Our case studies focus on pipestone use in the much-touted Cahokia Mississippian prestige exchange network (A.D. 1100-1300) and the equally famous Hopewell Interaction sphere (150 B.C. to A.D 300). In each instance, mineralogical analyses has literally turned earlier interpretations on their heads and forced significant redefinitions of exchange patterns.

A Shift In Emphasis In Wessex: The Incidence Of Neolithic Ground Axes

David Field, English Heritage, Cambridge.

While central southern England is well known for its extant Neolithic monuments and for the fine artefacts recovered from some of its Bronze Age barrows, Neolithic artefacts from the region have received relatively little attention. This might be considered surprising, as the area not only witnessed some of the earliest investigations into the source of materials, notably the Stonehenge bluestones, but it also harbours some of the earliest dated ground axes in the country. This paper will examine the occurrence and distribution of ground axes found in Wessex and compare it with other artefact types, but more importantly comparison with the location of extant monuments allows a rather different view of Wessex to emerge. The paper will consider the influence of local resources; of flint mines such as those at Durrington, Easton Down and Porton Down in Wiltshire; and the extent and processes by which axes of non-local materials may have been introduced and dispersed across the landscape.

Aspects Of The Petrology And Geochemistry Of Greenstones: With Special Reference To Sw England And Wales

Peter Floyd, School of Earth Sciences and Geography, Keele University.

The use of texture, petrology and geochemistry of Neolithic greenstone hand axes, to determine provenance, is well established. However, as many UK greenstones are essentially meta-dolerites (mildly metamorphosed medium-grained basic rocks) it is often necessary to consider the type and degree of alteration superimposed on the primary igneous mineralogy to establish different petrological groups of axes. In particular, alteration and texture can be highly variable in any one large outcrop that might have been used for the manufacture of axes. Similarly, geochemical fingerprinting of axes and subsequent comparison with known outcrops will only be successful if sufficient chemical data is available from any suspected source region when the full range of natural variation has been ascertained.

Stone Bangle Production In Mali, Africa

Ann Garin-Carmagnani1, Yvan Pailler, 1 University of Montpellier

In order to understand the manufacture of stone bangles in Neolithic France, we visited the Hombori region of Mali, to study the last surviving generation of makers of stone bangles there. From our field observations and from many interviews with various artisans, we obtained a considerable amount of information about a tradition of manufacture that has, until recently, been largely unknown. The details gathered cover every stage of the manufacturing process, from the way in which outcrops of the raw material are selected, to the manner in which the calcareous stone is worked in the manufacture of the bracelets. We documented the various phases involved in the chaîne opératoire and the ways in which the finished products are dispersed from their place of manufacture. Much still remains to be discovered, notably about the past history of bangle manufacture in Hombori, and the ways in which the finished bracelets were perceived by the people who acquired and used them. Nevertheless, we have been able to develop models that help us to understand the societies in post-Linearbandkeramik Europe that adopted the practice of wearing stone bracelets.

Axe Production And Exchange In The Seine Valley

François GILIGNY1, Françoise BOSTYN2, Adrienne LO CARMINE, Nicolas LE MAUX, Harold LETHROSNE, Cécile RIQUIER. 1UMR «Archéologies et Sciences de l’Antiquité», Maison de l’archéologie et de l’ethnologie, Nanterre, 2INRAP et UMR «Archéologies et Sciences de l’Antiquité».

This study is part of an ongoing research project on the archaeology of the Paris basin, carried out by the CNRS unit «Archéologies et sciences de l’antiquité», based at the Maison de l’Archéologie et de l’Ethnologie, Nanterre. The broad aim of the project is to study territories, exchange and communication networks within this unique geographical and historical entity, from the Palaeolithic up to modern times. The particular aim here is to examine territories and the role of lithic raw material extraction and production sites in the Seine basin during the Neolithic. While producer sites are indeed central to the diffusion process, they are not necessarily located in the geographical centre of a territory, and their distribution should be analysed in relation to other sites such as settlements, burials and places of communal assembly. A flint mine at Flins-sur-Seine, nearby Paris, was recognized with mine shafts revealed by aerial photography. A programme of field walking and geophysical survey was initiated, revealing that the surface area with knapping waste covers 15 ha and the mine shafts between 3 and 5 ha. Surface finds include a range of waste and abandoned items reflecting all the technical stages of axe manufacture, apart from polished objects. Further knapping sites producing axe blades are known in the region. Cartographical work on the repartition of polished axe blades, manufactured and in-process has been carried out to appreciate the extent of the products on a regional basis. This analysis is based on an examination of more than 3000 axes. Most of them are surface finds, but some in archaeological contexts can be dated and suggest a chronological framework. The presence of non-local igneous and metamorphic axes indicates that stone axes are originating from both the Armorican massif and the Alps. The Seine valley can well be seen as a circulation and exchange route, serving as a geographical interchange for the diffusion of Armorican and Alpine axes.


A. Gopher and R. Barkai. Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University.

Recent discoveries in the Near East indicate flint mining from primary geological sources as early as the Middle Pleistocene through the Early Bronze Age. One of the most characteristic expressions of this mining activity is stone tailing piles created during mining consisting of rock waste. In not a few cases workshop waste (debitage and debris) of flint knapping is found on top and around these piles. The paper discusses the formation of these piles in relation to the organization of mining. In the same context we speculate on the significance of the decision to knap the extracted flint on top of the (limestone) tailing piles. Another aspect dealt with is the location of flint extraction-reduction complexes, the visibility of tailing piles and areas scarred by the mining and the possibility that these features were markers not only of a geographical landscape but also of a social landscape.

‘The Multicoloured Knife Has Gone Forth…’: Colour, Luminosity And The Ideological Significance Of Flint In Dynastic Egypt

Carolyn Graves-Brown, Egypt Centre, Swansea University.

Text, archaeology and iconography make clear that flint was not only used for utilitarian tools and weapons well into the Egyptian Bronze Age but also that it had h3 ideological significance. Here I explore flint’s ideological significance relating to colour and luminosity and hypothesise that flint was ousted by metal as a funerary material because of the relative qualities of the luminosity of the two substances. The shininess of flint was valued and equated with the celestial and solar qualities of the Otherworld, particularly pertinent in the rejuvenating environment of the grave. However, once the metal was commonly available it was perfect as a facilitator of rebirth – the golden colour of the flesh of the gods and the silver of their bones. Flint simply could not compete in this respect, though continued in the realm of the ‘profane’ and in the literature as the ideal weapon of the gods.

Obsidian And Social Relationships At Domuztepe: Problems And Benefits Of Provenancing A Large Assemblage Of Artifacts

Elizabeth Healey and Stuart Campbell, School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, The University of Manchester.

Obsidian artefacts from Domuztepe (a large late Neolithic site in the Kahramanmaras plain in SE Turkey belonging to the Halaf culture and dated to c6000-5500 cal BC) account for about 18%, or some 10,000 artefacts, of the chipped stone assemblage. Obsidian is one of the few non-local materials at Domuztepe and as well as being used to make tools it is also used to make items of jewellery, mirrors, bowls and axe-like objects. We know from the geochemical analysis of a relatively small number of artefacts that the obsidian was imported from eight different and widely separated sources in Central, NE and SE Anatolia. These sources are between 200 and 900 km distant from Domuztepe. All these factors suggest that obsidian was valued not only as a raw material for tool manufacture but also as a material from which to make luxury items. As an exotic material is also likely to have a key role in forging and maintaining social and economic relationships both within the site and more widely. Understanding of the origins of the obsidians and the form in which they were obtained, worked and used context by context is key to this. However, difficulties arise with provenancing such a large assemblage not least because conventional geo-chemical methods are unfeasibly expensive. One of our approaches has been to group all the obsidian artefacts by their physical characteristics during routine analysis in the field laboratory and to export a sub-set from each group for testing using conventional geo-chemical analysis (LA-ICP-MS) to see whether they could be correlated with the source data. Already in a pilot study we have found a h3 statistical correlation which has allowed us to assign the bulk of the material to different sources with a h3 degree of confidence (85% for some obsidians and higher for others). Further, techno-typological studies have also shown that some obsidians reach Domuztepe at different stages in the cha îne opératoire and that certain attributes could be attributed to specific obsidians. Our research is on-going but as this paper will demonstrate it is anticipated that the information gained from studying the whole assemblage in this way will enable us to contextualize the origins and use of obsidian spatially and chronologically and provide valuable insights for the study the nature of relationships both within and outside the community at Domuztepe at a time of developing social complexity.

Ceremony And Carpentry – Stone Axes In An East Yorkshire Lowland Landscape

P. Halkon

Survey and research undertaken of a 20x30km study area in the Foulness Valley, East Yorkshire, which includes part of the Vale of York lowlands and The Western Yorkshire Wolds, has resulted in the location of over 70 polished stone and flint axeheads. Compared to the Great Wold Valley to the north, this region it not yet well known for its Neolithic archaeology. Examination of many of these tools suggests heavy use and re-working, yet a number, the most impressive in terms of workmanship and aesthetics, remain in pristine condition. Are the latter examples of structured deposition in wet places or simply accidental losses? This contribution aims to discuss the significance of the distribution of these tools and consider possible explanations for their condition, in terms of what is known about the Neolithic landscape of this region. Recent palaoenvironmental investigation shows that in the Neolithic the Foulness Valley was a mosaic of heavily wooded areas and wetland dominated in the south by a tidal estuarine inlet of the River Humber, contrasting with the rolling chalk hills of the Yorkshire Wolds to the north and east. The inlet and its associated waterways may have provided a means of communication and exchange for some of the axeheads.

The Functional And Symbolic Value Of Grinding Stone Tools From The Late Bandkeramik In North-Western Europe

C. Hamon

The arrival of late Linearbandkeramik populations in north-western Europe (Hainaut, Hesbaye and the Paris Basin) was accompanied by a change in the functional and symbolic practices related to grinding stone tools. Contrary to former Linearbandkeramik practices, grinding tools are no more objects of long distance exchange or circulation and are made quasi systematically on local sandstones of pretty high quality or on local granites on the western or southern periphery of the sedimentary Paris Basin (Normandy, Yonne). Nonetheless, these choices have not modified the “chaine opératoire” of shaping of grinding tools. This can be interpreted more in terms of perpetuation or conservation of the technical / cultural traditions than in terms of functional constraints. Despite the use of local resources, grinding stone tools have kept their symbolic value in the late Linearbandkeramik of western Europe. Two main phenomena demonstrate the symbolic status of these grinding tools: firstly, the voluntary, if not systematic, breaking of grinding tools before their abandonment or rejection of grinding stone tools hoards, known in the Linearbandkeramik but also in the Villeneuve-Saint-Germain-Blicquy culture ; and secondly, a change in the funerary habits, when grinding tools were no more deposited in graves. But beside these practices, one could argue that the function requirements of cereal processing gave a symbolic value to grinding stones. Considering several ethnographical examples, a wide symbolism is associated to back-and-forth grinding tools. Cereal processing is first related to food preparation, feeding and dietary. Then, grinding stones are generally considered as a feminine attribute, as this task is mostly assumed by women in a great majority of traditional populations. Finally, and concerning more particularly Neolithic contexts, grinding tools have been chosen to symbolize an agricultural way of life, and perhaps characterise and identity early Neolithic populations.

Yorkshire Quern Case Study – Petrology, Quarries And Sources, Manufacture And Use, Dispersal, Deposition

D. Heslop

No Abstract submitted.

Identifying Implement Source Quarries With Mineralogical Analysis

Randall E. Hughes1, Sarah U. Wisseman2, Thomas E. Emerson2. 1 Illinois State Geological Survey, 2 University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Our work since 1989 has shown that mineralogical characterization is the best initial method to identify the source of stone implements and to suggest more expensive testing (e.g., NAA). Discoveries using the PIMATM-SP (portable infrared mineral analyzer) at a Nevada gold mine made possible the rapid and totally non-destructive identification of source quarries for several hundred North American (NA) pipestone artefacts and quarry samples. Recently, we extended these studies to higher-grade metamorphic samples of Appalachian steatites (soapstones) and a set of British, Chinese, and French implement stones. The poster illustrates the method and summarizes 1) past use of X-ray diffraction, sequential acid dissolution, and ICP chemistry, 2) nearly 100% discrimination by PIMA of NA pipestone source quarries, 3) expanded use of an L*a*b* colour meter, and 4) limitations of the PIMA for metamorphic (or burned) rocks that lack hydroxyl and carbonate bonds.

“Ancestral Geology”: Lithic Power And Shrine Franchising In Northern Ghana

Timothy Insoll1, Rachel MacLean1, and Benjamin Kankpeyeng2. 1University of Manchester. 2University of Ghana, Legon

Ongoing surveys and excavations in shrines associated with the Tallensi ethnic group in the Tongo Hills of Northern Ghana have indicated that lithics are used and re-used for various purposes. These include medicinal and ancestral shrines that are formed of portable lithic objects such as schist ‘grinders/pounders’ and quartz spheres for which anthropogenic origins are claimed, though these can perhaps be questioned and natural geological attributions suggested instead. Origins notwithstanding, these lithic artefacts are regarded as highly potent and prohibitions surround their handling and removal. Clusters of standing stones and stone arrangements have also been recorded in a larger earth shrine, Nyoo. These seem to function in relation to both earth and ancestral cults but may also be more directly implicated via geological associations in denoting lineage and/or clan association and status. Lithics are also utilised in processes of shrine franchising. Stone of known provenance and association being the material used to activate the all-powerful Yaane shrine in new locations for example. All these uses of lithics in the Tongo Hills have potential resonance for interpreting aspects of material culture patterning in European prehistory. This will also briefly be discussed.

Waiting By The River: Stonehenge And The Severn Estuary

R.A.Ixer, Department of Geology. University of Leicester.

Within much of the current literature, the transhipment of the Welsh igneous bluestones from the Preseli Hills to Stonehenge via the Bristol Channel is presented as more than speculation. Indeed, discarded bluestones ‘found’ in Milford Haven harbour and on the island of Steepholme are cited as proof of this route and more confirmatory evidence has been provided by the provenancing of the Altar Stone (a non-Preseli sandstone that is ‘unique’ within the bluestones of the monument) to outcrops on the South Wales coastline, suggesting its collection along the way. However, detailed petrographical analysis of the Steepholme ‘bluestones’ shows them to be metamorphic amphibolites with no correspondence to any lithology found at Stonehenge. Their presence on Steepholme is natural rather than anthropogenic. In addition, ongoing comparisons between the lithology/petrography of the Altar Stone and coastal sandstone outcrops from South Wales have failed to find any match. The transporting mechanism and route for the bluestones of Stonehenge from their source to monument remain as fluid as the Severn itself.

The Geology and Petrology Of The Mynydd Rhiw Archaeological Site, N Wales

Heather Jackson, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

The Neolithic axe factory at Mynydd Rhiw, Llŕn, which provides the source for axes of Group XXI axes, was first excavated in 1958, but recent survey and excavation has identified additional areas of quarrying. Group XXI is a petrologically heterogenous group which shares many characteristics with similar rocks from elsewhere in Wales. This paper locates the axe factory in a geological context by characterising the outcrops of silicified tuff used for Group XXI axes at Mynydd Rhiw using surface XRD, SEM and thin section petrology. The surface XRD, SEM and petrological profiles of artefacts recovered from the excavations in 1958, and in 2006, are compared to establish whether any variation between the two quarrying areas can be distinguished. These profiles are also compared with samples collected during the geological survey of the hillside in order to locate potential areas of additional exploitation.

Landscape and Archaeometry Of Olmec Greenstone Artifacts In Early Mesoamerica: Quarrying, Production, And Consumption

Olaf Jaime-Riveron, Thomas Calligaro, and Dolores Tenorio. University of Kentucky/Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France, UMR 171 du CNRS/Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Nucleares.

In this paper we will present recent results of our analysis of the operative sequence of production and consumption of Olmec greenstone artefacts. We will show what kinds of techniques were used by the Olmecs in order to manufacture stone tools, the quarries where they extracted the raw materials, and the offerings in which they buried their tools. We will show an interdisciplinary approach that I have implemented in order to track the provenience of the rock materials and the stages of the production of these artefacts. This project uses implement petrography, energy dispersive spectrum (EDS), neutron activation analysis (NAA), and PIXE.

Graig Lwyd (Group Vii) Lithic Assemblages From The Excavations At Bryn Cegin, Llandygai, Gwynedd

Jane Kenny and John Williams

This paper has drawn attention to a unique sequence of flaked debitage at Bryn Cegin which describes the conscious exfoliation of carefully and laboriously executed ground and polished axes of Graig Lwyd source rock over a protracted time span spanning the whole of the Neolithic period in Wales. It has drawn attention to the same phenomenon being practiced in other parts of Britain establishing it as one of a number of specialised acts involving the burial of stone and flint axes. It is argued that Graig Lwyd polished axes, un-flaked nuclei, and axe making debitage was brought from the area of the type source to Bryn Cegin, where it was systematically disaggregated and the resultant flaked assemblage buried in a series of pits. The act of disaggregation appears not to have been undertaken for any domestic/utilitarian purpose, but may be considered as an example of the ritual fragmentation of a highly valued commodity, a phenomenon that has been identified elsewhere in the Neolithic of Britain. It was suggested in the introduction that this act could and should be interpreted as if it was a simple task to enter into the mindset of the prehistoric inhabitants of Bryn Cegin. Whether this act is interpreted as one of woeful vandalistic destruction, or as a smashing orgy in bucolic merriment, or is an act to establish social and economic control, or is an expression of social competition a la the potlatch phenomenon of the west coast of North America, or is a ritual act of neutralising the power of the artefact, or is a subtle rite of passage, whatever interpretation – toss your coin and take your pick, but take heed of the latest ‘in’ theory in the corridors of learning – there is no doubt as to the sanctity of the fragmented debitage to the Neolithic supplicants of Bryn Cegin.

The Lifecycle Of Hammerstones And The Organic Nature Of Quarry Activity

Philip C. LaPorta. LaPorta and Associates, L.L.C.

This paper discusses the symbolic implications of the morphological evolution of hammerstones through the ritual cycle of mining activities. Hammerstones morphologically begin the mining cycle as an oval, egg-shaped, aerodynamic form that is the result of glacial activity. Through ore-processing, they are continually re-tooled, resulting in a gradual diminution in volume and weight coinciding with intermittent failures along accentuated bedding and joint surfaces within the instrument. Eventually hammerstones return to the oval egg-shaped form, though smaller. This final form is no longer functional as a mining instrument. The final episodes of quarry activity involve a regeneration ritual where small heat-treated, finely-flaked, circular and half moon-shaped hammerstones are placed back into the empty legs of the ore-body. Drawing from research conducted on first tectonic cycle prehistoric mines in New Jersey and New York and ethnographic research on hand-operated quarries in India, the paper argues that prehistoric quarrying is an extractive process of harvesting ripened ores; therefore, in essence, quarrying is ritualistically akin to fertility rites.


Philip C. LaPorta1, Scott A. Minchak1, 2, and Margaret C. Brewer1. 1 LaPorta and Associates, L.L.C. 2 Texas A&M University.

The three major tectonic cycles in eastern North America abound in chert-bearing lithologies that were quarried through prehistoric times. Distinct chains of operation (numbers of quarry tools, instruments and final product) have been associated with each of the tectonic cycles. Task subdivision in quarries of the first tectonic cycle is characterized by four zones of activity. The chain of operation for stone tool production within these four zones is 20-24 steps long. Stone tools are associated with approximately 30 mining instrument types. Quarry layout, productivity, and task subdivision at second tectonic cycle quarries is characterized according to three zones of activity. The chain of operation contains 10-12 steps, in which the production of stone tools is associated with 11-12 quarry tool types. Quarries in the second cycle are fewer in number, but quarry design is simpler and more intense. Third tectonic cycle task subdivision is approximately 2-3 steps and extraction technology includes a very limited number of quarry tool types.

Craft Specialisation and Social Change: A Focus On Jade-Stone Production In The Lower Yangtze Between 4000 And 2000 Bc: The Interaction Between The Craft Production And Social Change

Q Ling. University of Peking.

No abstract submitted.

Extracting The Social From The Stone: New Discoveries From An Irish Mesolithic Wetland Context

Aimée Little, School of Archaeology, University College Dublin.

University College Dublin and the geology department of the Natural History Museum of Ireland has recently made a series of important discoveries that would suggest Ireland’s earliest quarry has been identified. Detailed analyses of seemingly generic-looking assemblages of festooned chert from the northern Midlands indicates that people inhabiting a series of inter-connected lakes during the Mesolithic were quarrying, reducing, moving, working and depositing material in distinctive ways throughout the landscape. This paper will draw on the results from these analyses in conjunction with results of the quarry survey to highlight the importance of investing time and energy into understanding fine-scale differences in raw materials during the Mesolithic. Critically, this research is demonstrating that the Irish Mesolithic holds archaeologically recognisable evidence of varied approaches to stone extraction and reduction, that can be utilised to overturn what has been a fairly static image of hunter-gatherers, by providing a new, more energetic, and socially engaging discourse on the activities carried out at particular nodes in the landscape.

Neolithic Polished Stone Axes And Hafting Systems: Technical Use And Social Function (5th And 3rd Millennia Bc, Jura)

Yolaine Maigrot, ArScAn – UMR 7041 – CNRS – (MAE, Nanterre, France).

This paper is dedicated to the presentation of polished stone axes hafting systems (wooden hafts and antler sleeves) evolution in France and Switzerland during the Neolithic between the 5th and the 3rd millennia BC. Technical aspects (making processes and use) will be discussed too. This analysis is established from the excavation data which come from dwelling sites in these regions, and more precisely from lakeside settlements: Chalain and Clairvaux (Jura, France). The manufacture and distribution of these artefacts is a very important economic and technological process that unified sedentary communities during the transition from the Early to the Middle Formative of Mesoamerica in the Olmec area. The interaction between the Southern Gulf Coast and the Mexican Central Highlands (Oaxaca-Puebla) shape one of the earliest civilizations in Mexico.

Technology Of Michelsberg Arrowheads From The Aisne Valley: A Cultural Marker?

Laurence Manolakakis

A recently discovered Michelsberg burial monument at Beaurieux “la Plaine” (Aisne) produced a total of 19 flint arrowheads from closed contexts. They provide an interesting addition to finds from settlements and enclosures in the Aisne valley. The corpus of early Michelsberg arrowheads from this region now stands at around 100. Leaf-shaped arrowheads such as these have generally been examined from a typological approach, with a view to defining chrono-cultural characteristics. A technological approach, on the other hand, provides new and pertinent information previously undetected by the typological studies. Observation of traces left by manufacturing techniques on the arrowheads reveals that a specific method was used, raising the question of its cultural and chronological significance.

Veneration And Spiritual Pleading Through Stone – Observations And Musings On Current Practice In Rural Turkmenistan

Glenys McLaren

Although the population of Turkmenistan is essentially Moslem, older traditions co-exist. Medical services are poor, infant mortality and maternal mortality and morbidity are higher than in the West, and superstition is rife. Barrenness is considered a female failing. Women of child-bearing age are under great pressure to be fertile, and make spiritual pleas at venerated sites when pregnancy fails to occur or an infant is lost. There is veneration not only of shrines and revered burial sites but also of ancient sites and old dead trees. Many offerings are in the form of stone or fossils, with continued re-use and deposition of ancient materials. Cloth strips and miniature cradles bearing “babies” are left in association with stones in pleas for child-bearing. Some stones are handled in special ways. One large stone was used for masturbation in the hope of fecundity. The legend of Paraw Bibi incorporates many of the beliefs and features related to rock that occur across many cultures and are common to folklore of old. Resonances of the same thought processes and behaviour patterns could have occurred as long ago as the Upper Palaeolithic.

Microwear On Assemblages From Lithic Extraction And Production Areas: A Test Study Of Clovis Blades From The Gault Site, Central Texas, Usa

Scott Minchak. Texas A&M University, USA; LaPorta and Associates, L.L.C., USA.

Differentiating non-lithic production activities in quarries and workshops is problematical when making inferences about past behaviour at quarries. William Henry Holmes once hypothesized that quarries were exclusive for extraction and gross lithic processing. Kirk Bryan postulated that quarry products were usable tools and that quarries also served as “factories” for working other materials. One way to test these hypotheses is a microwear analysis on quarry products and by-products. Texas A&M University excavations at the Gault quarry/workshop site uncovered Clovis (ca. 13,000-12,000 B.P.) artefacts that include almost 500 blade and blade fragments. Microwear analysis shows that: (1) only 3% of the Clovis blades were used at the Gault site; and (2) most blades that exhibit use-wear show little polish, suggesting ephemeral use and exportation of blades from the site. While not definitive of other quarries, this study illustrates broader implications for microwear analyses for quarries and workshops.

The “Ancient Stone Implements Of Yorkshire”: Recovery And Context In The Landscape

Terry Manby

In regional terms Yorkshire provides a wide range of landscape environments; there is a complexity of closely proximate uplands and lowlands, providing a range of soil types modified by altitude and climate, that provide contrasting opportunities for prehistoric activity and subsequent archaeological recovery of art factual evidence. Recorded artefact recovery since the 18th Century was the product of agricultural and building activities that intensified in favoured areas following the enclosures of arable landscapes. Much of this material has only parish provenances; sited material first came from the 19th Century barrow openings, the 20th Century excavations of occupational associations provide specific site recording along with the field survey moorland walking projects. A series of case studies will review the character of flint and some stone artefacts associated with Neolithic and Bronze Age occupational and burial contexts; consider geological sources exploited, the use and re-usage of the prehistoric axe material, and the interpretation of the much greater quantities of surface recovered artefacts derived from the wider landscape environments.

The Devil’s In The Detail – Group I And Ia Axes Under The Microscope

Mik Markham, Implement Petrology Group.

Petrological analysis of 136 IPG Group I and Ia axe thin sections using a polarising microscope over a period of a few days revealed minor mineralogical differences that enabled the examined set to be divided into 19 sub-groups. Whilst the mineralogy was broadly that of regionally metamorphosed medium to coarse grained basic igneous rock, the variances suggest the axes were probably sourced from more than one greenstone outcrop. Comparison of these sub-groups to samples collected from the Lands End peninsula using a quantitative analysis procedure supports the hypothesis that the source of IPC Group I is from an unknown exposure(s) between Penzance and Mousehole, but also indicates the possibility of a north coast origin, between St Ives and Kenidjack, with the best match found being between IPG Group Ia and the greenstone exposure at Gurnards Head.

The Bronze Age Use Of Dolerite On The Welsh Border

David Mullin, University of Reading.

The exploration of the use of stone for its particular material properties has tended to focus on Neolithic monuments and material culture, especially stone axes. In the area around Clee Hill, in the Welsh Marches, the distinctive local dolerite was exploited throughout the Bronze Age, both for the construction of burial monuments and, later, as a tempering agent within pottery. Dolerite appears to have been utilised in preference to other materials and other kinds of stone which occur widely across the region and may have held special significance, perhaps related not only to the properties of the stone itself but also to the wider landscape of the Clee Hills. This paper will discuss significance of the procurement, utilisation and disposal of dolerite and the pottery to which it was added and the ways in which these might relate to the creation and maintenance of identities within communities living in this part of the Welsh borderland.

Gems And Precious Stones In Prehistory

C Nichol and A Morrison, Yorkshire Museum.

No Abstract submitted

Questioning The Preference For Primary And Secondary Raw Material Use In The Neolithic In Northwest Turkey In The Production Of Polished Stone Tools

Onur Ozbek, University of Canakkale, Turkey.

New excavations and field surveys as well as specific studies on stone tools have broadened our knowledge in the last decade on the technology of the Neolithic populations in North-western Turkey. The Neolithic sites like Hocacesme, Asagipinar, Ilipinar, Aktopreklik, Kaynarca and Hamayliterla delivered an important number of polished stone tools manufactured in particular from metamorphic rocks. An investigation of the choice for the primary and secondary deposits in the production of those tools may help us to understand the reasons for long distance acquisition or why only some types of tools were preferred to be manufactured from nearby secondary deposits. As metamorphic rock, in particular, is the most commonly preferred raw material in the polished lithic assemblage of Neolithic sites in this region, we consider that the subsistence and economy may heavily depend on this type of material especially when these types of tools are needed. The detailed examination of the physical features of these finished or unfinished (blank) tools reflect the information on their procurement strategies. Especially our analysis on Hocacesme, Asagipinar, Aktopreklik, Kaynarca and Hamayliterla Neolithic sites with the help of some basic statistical presentations put forward substantial information on the daily life of the Neolithic societies.

The Production, Distribution And Significance Of All-Over Polished Flint Axes In Great Britain

Yvan Pailler

Nearly 30 years ago, the question of the significance and origin of all-over-polished flint axeheads was posed by C. N. Moore, and since then, no definitive answer has been provided. What sets these axeheads apart is not only their exceptional size but, above all, their symmetry and their glass-like polish. Without a doubt, these very rare objects had been imbued with a special social significance. Several studies, mostly focusing on Scottish finds, have helped to advance our knowledge of this class of axehead; but we still lack definitive answers concerning the origin of these artefacts and the origin of the flint from which they have been made. Because of their apparent links with Scandinavian thin-butted flint axeheads, Alan Saville has suggested that these may have originated in Denmark. However, my own recent examination of a roughout for one such axehead from Craggie Farm, Nairn, in north-east Scotland casts serious doubt on this hypothesis. Close examination of the traces of manufacture on this roughout has revealed evidence for a different chaîne opératoire from that used to manufacture Danish thin-butted axeheads. An examination of Mike Pitts’ extensive archive of British axeheads in Swindon has allowed me to recognised further unfinished examples of these axeheads. In an echo of the model used to characterise the use of Alpine rocks (i.e. jadeite, eclogite etc.) for producing workaday and ‘socially valorised’ axeheads, we can put forward the following hypothesis: all-over-polished flint axeheads were manufactured in south-east England and were used there mostly for utilitarian use for felling trees and shaping timber. The minority that travelled long distances from this source area was transformed into socially-valorised artefacts. The question of the chronology of all-over-polished flint axeheads remains problematic but the floruit of the use of socially-valorised axeheads in general in Britain and Ireland (e.g. Malone type axeheads, Cumbrian Clubs, Bridlington axeheads) can arguably be related to the appearance of Alpine axeheads – the original and classic socially-valorised artefacts – during the first quarter of the fourth millennium BC. The arrival of these exotic axeheads was soon followed by the localised manufacture of copies, using local stone: various copies of Durrington-type Alpine axeheads have recently been identified. It may be that these other forms of special axehead, including all-over-polished flint axeheads, represent a response to, and diversification of, this concept of socially-valorised axeheads.


Yves Perdaen

From the start of the Mesolithic until its very end, quartzite was used widely in the Mesolithic of the Low Countries. In the Early Mesolithic two varieties were in use: a fine grained variety called Wommersom quartzite and a coarser grained variety called Tienen quartzite. Their use seems to begin at the same time, around 9500 uncal. BP. But the duration of their use differs significantly. After a short boost at the beginning of the Boreal, the use of Tienen quartzite declines rapidly. However, the Wommersom quartzite becomes increasingly popular and remains so until the Final Mesolithic, around 5000 uncal. BP. Throughout this period of almost 4 millennia, there are numerous indications pointing towards the cultural or ethnic significance of quartzite. First of all, there is the clear association between quartzite variety and microlith assemblage types. In the Early Mesolithic Tienen quartzite is preferred for the production of triangles and points with a retouched base while the use of Wommersom quartzite is restricted to the manufacturing of crescents. This preference for microlith production further increases in the Middle and Late Mesolithic. By then Wommersom quartzite is used almost exclusively for the production of points with flat retouch, backed bladelets and later on for trapezes. A second indicator is found in the knapping technology, which changes through time and differs significantly among assemblage types. As a matter of fact, the method used to knap Wommersom quartzite differs from both flint and Tienen quartzite. Furthermore, peaks in the use of Tienen and Wommersom quartzite also seem to coincide with shifts in territory signifying its function as a territorial marker. A last important observation is the complete disappearance of quartzite at the start of the Neolithic. Neolithic people clearly had little or no interest in the quartzite varieties used by Mesolithic man, further strengthening the cultural significance it had in the society of indigenous hunter-gatherers.


Paul R. Preston. Donald Baden Powell Quaternary Research Centre, Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford.

Using chipped stone data derived from the analyses of trans-Pennine Mesolithic assemblages and Clark’s 1954 Star Carr assemblage: this paper will examine the influence of lithic technology within the mobility strategies of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in Northern England. It will explore the possible association between persistent places as resource locals in the landscape and their influence on raw material consumption and tool manufacture. Key to this study is the introduction (into the Chaîne Opératoire model of lithics analyses) of the notion of ‘Equipotentiality’ which is derived from the biological term exaption. This new term will be defined and explored in relation to hunter-gatherer mobility strategies along with other processes such as retooling or re-sharpening. A model for equipotential tool use at both site and landscape levels, together with its influence on hunter-gatherer mobility strategies is proposed.

Eclogite Ou Jadeitite : Les Deux Couleurs Des Transferts De Haches Alpines En Europe Occidentale

Pierre PÉTREQUIN1, Serge CASSEN2, Michel ERRERA3, Estelle GAUTHIER1, Lutz KLASSEN4, Anne-Marie PÉTREQUIN5, Alison SHERIDAN6, Michel ROSSY7.1Laboratoire de Chrono-écologie, Besançon, France. 2Laboratoire de Préhistoire et de Protohistoire de l’Ouest de la France, Nantes, France. 3 Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale, Tervuren, Belgique. 4Moesgard Museum, HØjbjerg, Danemark. 5 Centre de Recherche Archéologique de la Vallée de l’Ain, Gray, France. 6 National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland. 7 Département des Sciences de la Terre, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France.

The systematic petrographic determination of the largest Neolithic stone axeheads made of Alpine rock (703 examples) has allowed us to discern a territorial division within Europe between the distribution of axeheads made of jadeite (light green) and of eclogite/omphacitite (dark green). This division resulted from the operation of two successive systems of exploitation of these raw materials in the Italian Alps, as follows: During the first half of the 5th millennium BC, the sources of eclogite – a material that is less rare than jadeite – were exploited preferentially, especially those on Mont-Viso (Piedmonte), by the people who lived locally in the valleys, on good agricultural land; During the second half of the 5th millennium BC, thanks to moves in northern Europe to seek new ways of expressing power and prestige, people sought out the exceptionally rare, light-green jadeites. Blocks of jadeite from Mont Viso and from Monte Beigua were sometimes transported as far as 200 kilometres as the crow flies, allowing them to be worked on the north-west fringe of the Alps – that is, in the direction facing the new ‘consumers’ of these luxury goods.

La détermination pétrographique systématique des plus grandes haches d’origine alpine (703 ex) ont permis de montrer une division territoriale de l’Europe entre jadéitite (vert clair) et éclogite/omphacitite (vert foncé) qui résulterait de la succession de deux systémes d’exploitation des matiéres premiéres dans les Alpes italiennes: – pendant la premiére moitié du Ve millénaire, les gîtes d’éclogite (une matiére premiére moins rare que la jadéitite) ont été exploitées en priorité, en particulier au Mont-Viso (Piémont), par des communautés qui vivaient en vallée, sur de bonnes terres á céréales; – pendant la deuxiéme moitié du Ve millénaire, avec la recherche de nouvelles valeurs d’affichage social dans le nord de l’Europe, ce sont les jadéitites claires (exceptionnellement rares) qui ont été recherchées : des blocs de jadéitite du Mont Viso et du Mont Beigua étaient parfois transportés sur deux cents kilométres á vol d’oiseau pour être travaillés sur le versant nord-ouest des Alpes, c’est-á-dire du côté des nouveaux consommateurs.

The Use Of Portable Xrf Analysis In Provenancing Lithic Artefacts

P.J. Potts, P.C. Webb and J.S. Watson. The Open University.

PXRF analysis can provide quantitative geochemical data for a range of elements in lithic artefacts and of particular value for provenancing studies. Understanding both the limitations and the benefits of the technique are essential in making valid and successful use of such data. Non-ideal measuring surfaces in terms of shape and composition (through contamination or weathering) inevitably degrade data, but suitable precautions and correction procedures can minimize such effects. Quantitative geochemical data can provide criteria for distinguishing compositions of lithics that cannot be separated readily by other techniques, and improve the rigour by which attributions can be made to potential sources. Although XRF data can be diagnostic, insufficient data are held in databases of potential sources, so the method currently requires a broad understanding of the geochemistry of rocks and is best used in conjunction with other diagnostic tools. New analytical developments have considerable potential but are not without dangers.


Roberto Risch1, David Gomez Gras2, Nicole Bovin3, Adam Brumm3 and Michael Petraglia3. 1Departament de Prehistória, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona. 2Departament de Geología, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona. 3Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge.

A 15-30 m wide dolerite dyke on the northernmost of the complex of granite hills in the Sanganakallu-Kupgal area became one of the main sources of raw material for the production of stone axes in southern India. At least three large hill settlements (several hectares each) were established in the area immediately surrounding the dyke, and one of them appears to have gradually developed into a large scale production centre. Quarrying and axe flaking started around 1900 cal BCE, during the so called Ashmound period, and reached its maximum development between 1400-1200 cal BCE, when a large region of the south Deccan plateau might have been supplied with finished and half-finished products from Sanganakallu. Systematic archaeological excavation and survey carried out during the last 5 years in the Sanganakallu-Kupgal area, including the dyke quarry itself, and has yielded thousands of production flakes, blanks and macro-lithic tools related to the flaking, pecking and polishing of the axes. The ongoing study of these materials permits us for the first time to gain insight into the organisation of production in this area from a temporal and spatial perspective. In view of the social and economic transformations taking place in the Deccan during the second half of the 2nd millennium BC, some key questions concern the relationship between intensification of production and the social division of labour achieved between the different working areas and settlements.


Roberto Risch. Departament de Prehistória, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona.

During the last two decades a growing body of petrographic analysis of stone tools has been presented by different research projects in Italy, France and Spain. This information has allowed defining spatial and temporal patterns related to the use of different raw materials from the 6th to the 2nd millennia. Otherwise, it has proved much more difficult to untangle the social and economic structures behind these patterns. This question requires to move beyond the dominant petrographic focus and to pay greater attention to the environmental, as well as social dimensions of axe production, distribution and consumption. Geo-archaeological studies, combining petrographic, geomorphological, sedimentological and paleotechnological analyses, were undertaken in southeast and northeast Spain in order to gain a better insight into the procurement strategies and the organisation of the production of stone axes. The next step has been to approach the social value of these extraction and production areas as expressed through the consumption of other goods participating in distribution networks. From the Alps until Sierra Nevada a series of such networks can be identified, which seem to have warranted the supply of polished stone tools in each region. Parallel to this organisation, a long distance exchange system developed and became the target of political control by certain male groups in some regions and at particular times, although its importance in economic terms remained limited. The situation in the western Mediterranean further shows that there is no positive relation between the intensity of the exchange relations and the emergence of centralised political structures. Rather, expanded exchange seems to have acted as a mechanism to strengthen social bonds in societies where we observe an increasing division of tasks at the economic sphere. In general, the western Mediterranean shows that similar distribution patterns can respond to very different social and political situations. Only when these patterns are regarded as a link between production and consumption does their social meaning become manifest.

The Role Of The Stone In Neolithic Steles And Passage Tomb Art : Case-Studies And Methods Of Representation In Ireland And Brittany

Guillaume Robin1 and Serge Cassen2. 1 PhD student, Laboratoire de Préhistoire, Université de Nantes, 2 CNRS (UMR 6566), Laboratoire de Préhistoire, Université de Nantes.

In the engraved art on Neolithic steles and passage tombs, the role of the stone is not restricted to that of simple support, more or less constraining. As in Paleolithic cave art, Neolithic people tried to benefit from the irregularities and specificities of the stone slabs in order to integrate them like true components of their graphic representations. These irregularities could inspire, be used as starting point, as they could be used opportunely in a pre-established graphic project and symbolic system. The stone had a particular role, as well as the carved motifs, in the graphic art of the Neolithic steles and passage tombs. Some Breton and Irish representative examples of this symbolic function will be proposed. Some three-dimensional techniques of modeling will also be presented, these methods of representation seeming relevant for this type of problems.

Bits And Pieces: Early Bronze Age Stone Bracers From Ireland

Fiona Roe and Ann Woodward

Large numbers of bracers from Ireland were illustrated and published by Peter Harbison in 1976. In association with the preparation of a similar corpus of the bracer material from England (as part of a Birmingham University Leverhulme project on Early Bronze Age grave goods), 32 Irish bracers housed at the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, have been re-examined. Consideration of lithology showed that far more of the bracers were made from red jasper than was evident from Harbison’s publication. Other rocks employed were mainly grey-brown in colour and included a few examples of porcellanite from the Group IX Neolithic axe factory sites. Detailed study of fragmentation and traces of manufacture showed that more than half of the bracers had been broken in antiquity, and then reworked for use as pendants. The paper will examine all these aspects, and will compare the results with the different patterns of rock type, colour and fragmentation found in England and Scotland.

Lithic Raw Material Economy Of Some Late Upper Palaeolithic Assemblages From North Algiers

L. Sari, Doctorante au Laboratoire de Préhistoire et Technologie. Université de Paris X, Nanterre Cedex, France.

The analysed lithic assemblages are from an open area sites, belonging to the Iberomarusian, a Late Upper Palaeolithic culture. They are notably concentrated near the Djebel Bou- Arous in the north eastern littoral of Algiers, which is known by the absence of Primary siliceous outcrops. The methodology of study is based on a technoeconomic approach, which bring new information concerning the mineral potentialities of surrounding, and the different knapping techniques applied to the prehistoric lithic raw material. Paleoflows were formed during progressive displacement of wadi Isser thrown towards the sea since Pleistocene. These paleoflows revealed precious information about the natural resources of the palaeoenvironment, and support many useful indications for the research of lithic raw material outcrops, in particular those of siliceous rocks. The origin of the artefacts was confirmed by the identification of both geological and archaeological examined lithic raw materials, supported by petrographic and geochemical analyses. Techno-economic study put in evidence the strategies used in the provisioning of a non local brown flint. This raw material selected for its homogenous texture and its dimension qualities was transported in semi product forms to the prehistoric sites. Moreover, this brown flint knows a more elaborate laminar knapping than flints of alluvial origin.


Michael Saso, Peli University of Beijing, and Director of the Sino-Asian Institute.

The paper presents evidence drawn from different ethnographic, anthropological and archaeological perspectives, including myth and legend, monuments, artefacts and natural landscape phenomena, to suggest an archaeological structure the significant of which is found everywhere. Stone carving sites, burials, ancient dwelling structures and artefacts from at least the Oracle Bone Period in China (1700 bc) fit this pattern The challenge is to discover whether Neolithic or earlier sites might not also fit into the structural model of protecting the worshipper (in the northern hemisphere) from, for example, the cold winds from the northeast. Geomancy, from its beginnings demanded that the NE be carefully protected. Central to the archaeological structure proposed in the paper is the Magic Square of Nine, the significance of which is explored from a range of cultural and religious perspectives. The paper sets out a framework for investigating possible links between beliefs which have their origins in antiquity and aspects of stone tool procurement, manufacture, use and deposition.

Stone Artefacts As Unitary Social And Physical Markers In Dartmoor’s Later Prehistoric Landscapes

Lorraine Seymour, University of Sheffield.

This paper considers the relationship between stone artefacts and monuments in explaining the formation of agricultural landscapes. Drawing upon the stone littered uplands of Dartmoor, arguably the finest Bronze Age agricultural complex in Europe, it argues that current explanations of agricultural adoption are limited. Approaches are distorted by a restrictive perspective that artificially separates artefactual from monumental remains (Fleming 1988, Johnston 2005). Many hundred Neolithic and Bronze Age lithic scatters have been recovered from across Dartmoor, its surrounding lowland and coastal environs. Yet, contemporary research is bound to the ceremonial and field-settlement structures so visibly marking its surface today. This isolates the appearance of these constructions from a great deal of activity that surrounded and would have been related to their formation. The social, temporal and regional depth to Dartmoor’s later prehistoric development is suppressed. Moreover, recent reconstruction of this landscape transformation remains segmented and only partially complete (Johnston 2005). The development has been bracketed within agricultural practice understood through models of intensification and long been marked by the land’s division into fields (Boserup 1965; Brück, Johnston and Wickstead 2003, 1). However recent work has enforced the salience of more unitary social connections between visibly distinct categories of material (La Tour 1995; Hind 2000; Ingold 2000). Local communities would have understood experiential relationships between the tool kits, buildings and boundaries caught up in daily and long term activities. The farming practice would have been understood and experienced as only part of the more extensive, hybrid and dynamic projects of livelihood in which the Moor’s early communities engaged (Ingold 2000b). Lithic, monumental and agricultural materials are interdependent components of composite technological regimes that communities weaved towards their keep. We need closer integration of stone artefacts with stone monuments in reconstructing the later prehistoric development of this agricultural landscape. Stone tools are the most ubiquitous category of later prehistoric data-set. They form the dominant component of the Neolithic record, their production continues throughout the Bronze Age and they offer a resource that can be considered at a landscape scale. Using case studies from Dartmoor and its surrounding environs the paper traces historically situated changes in the regimes that both stone artefacts and monuments were caught up in. This will more completely reconstruct the physical and social transformations that the Moor’s communities underwent during later prehistory. It involved a fundamental transition in human-environmental relations that cannot be simply be characterised as development in agricultural intensification but maybe by the degree of environmental intervention. (Text references supplied)

The Stone Tool Industry of Hac Sa, Macau, China

Roy Sit Kai Sin1 and Vin Davis2. 1 Macau Museum, PR China. 2 Implement Petrology Group.

The poster presents information about the range of stone implements excavated from this sand dune site in Southeast China and the petrograpical range of utilised rock types. A number of roughout, ground and polished stone axes and adzes found locally are considered in relation to the wider distributions of these implement types across the Pearl River Delta Region. Particular attention is focused on evidence for the manufacture technology of stone, jade and quartz rings. The apparently selective exploitation of quartz, which occurs locally as veins within the granite outcrops, for tool and ring manufacture, and its relationship to mineralogical and textural characteristics is considered.

Stone Procurement And Rock-Art At The West Bank Of Aswan, Egypt

Per Storemyr1, Elizabeth Bloxam2, Tom Heldal1 and Adel Kelany3. 1Geological Survey of Norway, 2University College London, 3Supreme Council of Antiquities, Aswan

The West Bank of the Nile at Aswan in Upper Egypt is part of one of the world’s largest, most varied and most long-lived ancient quarry landscapes. Procurement of silicified sandstone can be traced from the Palaeolithic when the stone was used for tools, whereas from the Late Palaeolithic (c. 18,000 years ago) until the Roman period massive production of grinding stone took place. The New Kingdom (2nd millennium BC) represents the heyday in the use of the stone for ornamental purposes, for which an intricate, in total 20 km long, road network was constructed for stone transportation. In addition, the landscape features many non-silicified sandstone building stone quarries, mainly of Graeco-Roman age. This desert landscape, at the border between Ancient Egypt and Nubia, is also criss-crossed by ancient caravan routes. It was a major ancient hunting ground as evidenced by long stone alignments or game drives used to capture animals such as gazelle. Especially along the Nile there are many ancient burials and cemeteries. Some 200 rock-art panels, often located at high places with grand vistas have been found. They seem to range in age from the Late Palaeolithic to the Roman period, with a concentration in the Neolithic to the Nubian A-Group/Predynastic period (perhaps from the 9th to 6th millennium BC into the early 3rd millennium BC). Settlements seem to be absent, but might be located below aeolian sand and modern Nubian villages by the Nile. A large proportion of the rock-art is spatially h3ly related to probably contemporaneous grinding stone quarries. There are much weaker spatial (and temporal) relationships with caravan routes, game drives and burials. This could indicate that the rock-art is mainly connected with the procurement of grinding stone, which will be discussed from various perspectives in the paper. Generally, the West Bank landscape offers fine opportunities for investigation of connections between the making of rock-art and other activities attested in the archaeological record. Such studies have rarely been pursued in Egypt and Nubia. However, the area is at great risk from modern development projects, which are about to eradicate part of this significant landscape. Research at the West Bank of Aswan is part of the QuarryScapes project (, dedicated to the conservation of ancient stone quarry landscapes in the Eastern Mediterranean and supported by the EU 6th Framework Programme.

Ritualised Extraction

Peter Topping, English Heritage, Cambridge.

This paper will attempt to draw contrasts between the Neolithic flint mines and axe ‘factories’ in the UK to explore similarities and differences between these two forms of the extraction site. Both site types emerged around 4000BC and faded from use when the first metal objects were being introduced c.2300BC. Geologically, the axe ‘factories’ are located in the uplands of the north and west, whereas the flint mines are largely restricted to the low-lying chalk of southern England with two outlying sites on secondary gravels in north-east Scotland. The paper will review a number of pertinent themes: e.g. the role of ritualised journeys to raw material sources, locational preferences, the evidence for ritualised extraction, and the use-life and cultural role of artefacts of mined/quarried stone. It is hoped that the evidence presented will inform the debate surrounding the social contextualisation of extraction and explore the dichotomy between ritualised and functional procurement.

Rethinking Ground Stone Technology And Its Implications For The Neolithic Societies Of Northern Greece

Christina Tsoraki

Ground Stone tools are a common component of Neolithic settlements in the prehistoric Aegean. To date, their study has been restricted mainly to descriptive catalogues that fail to reconstruct the biography of these artefacts in any detail. Moreover, ground stone tools are still perceived as purely utilitarian tools with no symbolic meanings attached to their production, use and deposition. Yet, detailed contextual study of the large ground stone assemblage of over 8000 tools from the flat-extended Late Neolithic site at Makriyalos, N. Greece provides new insights into the role ground stone tools played within Neolithic societies. Analysis of variables such as raw material selection, use patterns and spatial distribution within different contexts of deposition (e.g. habitation pits, large ‘borrow pits’ containing debris from possible feasting episodes, and encircling ditches) indicate that ground stone implements also fulfilled a ‘social’ function. Through the course of their use, these tools acted as constant reminders of other elements of the landscape and the processes that brought them into being. This paper will highlight these aspects of stone tool use through the presentation of the analysis of the rich material from Makriyalos.

Flint As Food For Thought: The Social Significance Of Flint For Neolithic And Bronze Age Communities In The Lower Rhine Basin

Annelou van Gijn. Laboratory for Artefact Studies, Leiden University, Netherlands.

Use wear and residue analysis of artefacts from settlements, graves and “hoards” can illuminate aspects of the biography of flint implements not otherwise observable. In this paper I will outline the changes that took place in later prehistory in the selection of raw material (the conception of the tool), the way flint objects were produced (the birth), the uses to which they were put during their life, and the treatment they received upon discard (death). It will be shown that even simple flint tools like sickles and strike-a-lights are imbued with meaning. Obvious “prestige” items like imported flint daggers have a use life hitherto unknown that sheds light on issues like social identity and cosmology.

Stone Artefacts From Blansby Park , North Yorkshire : Stimulating Interest In Science And Archaeology With New Audiences

Stella Ward1 and Andrew K. G. Jones2. 1 North Yorkshire Business and Education Partnership. 2 York Archaeological Trust and University of Bradford.

Stone objects are relatively robust familiar objects that often lie neglected in museum stores. Displayed in glass cases they do little to stimulate learning or understanding of our prehistoric past. This poster presents some innovative work with a collection of stone artefacts, mostly gathered from the topsoil at Blansby Park , Newton Dale, near Pickering North Yorkshire. Here the farmer, volunteers and students aged 8-88 have recovered a diverse assemblage of prehistoric and Roman stone artefacts. This assemblage has been catalogued, studied, mounted for portable displays and used by a variety of audiences; mostly inexperienced students at university, participants in residential summer schools and members of young archaeology clubs. These individuals usually have little or no training or interest in technical geoarchaeology. Aspects of all these investigations are made publically available through on the internet suing the living archive of the York Archaeological Trust’s Integrated Archaeological Database (IADB). This poster, and the associated interactive internet terminal running IADB, illustrate several of the innovative teaching and learning experiences techniques developed by members of the Blansby Park Project since its inception in 2000. This work has been supported by the York Archaeological Trust and the Division of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford to enable students and volunteers of all ages to explore, record and interpret the finds.

Raw Material Diversity In Irish Later Mesolithic Stone Tools: A Contribution From Belderrig, North Co. Mayo, Ireland

Graeme Warren. School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Ireland.

Ongoing excavations at a later Mesolithic and early Neolithic landscape preserved beneath blanket bog at Belderrig, North Co. Mayo is revealing an archaeological site of considerable significance. Associated with a variety of structural features, including extensive stony spreads, are a wealth of stone tools – chipped, polished and coarse. The assemblage is dominated by characteristically later Mesolithic ‘macrolithic’ forms. Quartz is the dominant raw material, and is available locally – this material forms the focus of PhD research by Killian Driscoll outlined on a poster at this conference. Other chipped stone resources include chert (possibly of two types), flint (some likely imported from Antrim), siltstone, porphyry and basalt. A Moynagh point of mica schist and three polished axes, of currently unknown material, are also present, along with psammite hammer stones and possible bevel ended pebbles. The diversity of material indicates a wide network of links within the region and beyond and can be contrasted to Neolithic assemblages in the region. The project is funded by the Royal Irish Academy.

Man The Tool Maker: Understanding Prehistoric Stone Tool Technology Through Reverse Engineering, Manufacture And Use-Wear

Dave Weddle, Implement Petrology Group

The Worksop will demonstrate a range of techniques for making tools from stone and flint. Through a hands-on approach, workshop participants will use a variety of rock types to produce a range of tool forms typical of those found in prehistoric contexts. Different aspects of stone tool making will be discussed, including: raw material sources, extraction techniques and implement forms; knapping, grinding, pecking and perforation techniques and tools; roughing out, roughouts and their possible use as flaked/quick axes; hafting and axes, their use and failure characteristics; tooling marks, finish, debitage; and time and effort invested in axe manufacture. Practical considerations of using rock from the recently discovered prehistoric quarry site at Mynydd Rhiw, North Wales will be investigated and evaluated. The Workshop will offer participants an opportunity for practical experience using different rock types and a range of manufacturing techniques. You are very welcome to bring your own rock specimens to the Workshop, for use and evaluation.

Ceci n’est pas une hache: Neolithic depositions in the northern Netherlands

Karsten Wentink

As early as the 19th century discoveries of large axes puzzled those confronted with them. The fact that most were found in waterlogged places in particular formed the basis of speculation as to the nature of these objects. In the present paper the character and significance of TRB flint axe depositions are explored. With the aid of metrical, spatial/contextual, and functional (using high-power microscopy) analysis, data patterns are explored that can shed light on the actions performed by people in the past. These empirical methods provide us with data. Functional analysis, for example, revealed that the deposited axes showed traces of a very distinctive use-life that did not involve any practical activities. The axes had moreover been covered in red ochre before they were deposited. Such patterns however can only be explained and interpreted with the aid of theory. Using sociological theory and ethnographic evidence an interpretation is presented, based on the empirically observed patterns.

Graig Lwyd (Group Vii) Lithics From Parc Bryn Cegin, Llandygai, Near Bangor, And Their Ritual And Chronological Implications

John Williams and Jane Kenny

The recently completed excavations at Bryn Cegin, Llandygai (Kenney, forthcoming) has produced a wealth of domestic and ritual assemblages that span the duration of the Neolithic period in Wales. The site occupies the brow and lower slopes of a north facing ridge and overlooks on its northern perimeter the important henge complex of Llandygai (Lynch and Musson 2004). It goes without question that the activities at the two sites were intimately interconnected. The ridge of Bryn Cegin commands an impressive vantage point in the landscape, affording on its northern front clear views to the Menai Strait and beyond to the low lying island of M ôn (Anglesey), whilst on its southern side it enjoys panoramic vistas of the mountain grandeur of Eryri (Snowdonia). Immediately to the east, and at a distance of a mere 16 kilometres, lies the severely truncated headland of Pen Penmaen, today reduced by the ravages of modern quarrying to its present diminutive form, but at a time contemporary with Bryn Cegin standing as a dominant dome shaped eminence to an original height of 472 metres. It is the outer margins of this igneous intrusion that is the source of the augite granophyre rock which in the Neolithic was exploited for the production of Graig Lwyd axes (Group VII).

An Assessment Of The Geochemical Surface/Sub-Surface Alteration Of Flint In The Post-Depositional Environment: Using Material From Grimes Graves Flint Mine, Norfolk As A Case Study

Jenny Young, University of Bradford (UK).

Trace-element analysis of floorstone, wallstone and topstone from Pit 15, Grimes Graves, Norfolk using LA-ICPMS. In antiquity, patinated flint was considered to be related to the age of the artefact, however, recent research indicates that the geochemistry of flint and the post-depositional burial environment govern the rate of patination. The current research investigates the geochemical surface/sub-surface alteration (whether visual or not) of flint in the burial environment. Flint is not a homogenous material and the objectives of the research are to assess to what extent the geochemistry of flint dictates rates of patination, how the burial environment can inhibit or accelerate surface alteration processes and, more importantly, how surface alteration may affect provenance studies. Samples from the floorstone, wallstone and topstone at Grimes Graves Neolithic flint mines in Norfolk, England have been taken. These will be subject to preliminary trace element analysis in order to establish the chemical signature of the raw material before being subject to artificial patination. This paper reports on the current research to date.

The Geometry And Symmetry Of Scottish Carved Stone Balls Explored Though Experimental Replication: Implications For Their Typology And The Study Of Proto-Mathematics. 

Andrew T. Young. University of Exeter.

The carved stone balls of Scotland and Orkney comprise one of the most perplexing assemblages of prehistoric stone artefacts. Their complex morphology is reflected by the typological scheme proposed for them by Marshall in 1977, which in the course of this research was shown to be cumbersome and defective in several respects. During experimental replication it was determined that carved stone balls are intentionally embedded with symmetries which previously have been alluded to but not properly explored. This paper discusses their manufacture and investigates possible ways in which their makers could have created these objects whose symmetries reflect those of regular polyhedra. Aspects of their design are explored and criteria suggested for the basis of a new monothetic typology. The author demonstrates that people in Neolithic Scotland were carving the hardest known substance available to them and therein codifying the Platonic solids some 1500 years before they were first described by the ancient Greeks. This has profound implications for the study of proto-mathematics and cognitive archaeology.

A Study Of The Pattern Of Exploitation At The Quarry On Mount Dagudui, Shanxi Province, Pr China

Zhai Shaodong (Shaun), University of Peking.

Mount Dagudui is situated in the Linfen Basin of South Shanxi province and is a Neolithic period site. It was discovered in 1984 and is 150,000 metres square in area. The Shanxi Institute of Archaeology excavated there in 1988 and 1989. The total area excavated is 300 metres square and revealed some lithic blanks. Therefore it was identified as a quarry. I investigated the site formation, lithic assemblage, chronology and the relationship between Mount Dagudui and other settlements in the surrounding region from the view of resource control and the development of social complexity. There are flakes, cores, tool blanks and stone hammers in the lithic assemblage. The lithic assemblage consists predominately of flakes, followed by cores and spear-shaped blanks are typical. All these lithics have been named the “Mount Dagudui style lithics” because of the unique metamorphic sandstone found here. Different ratios between flakes and cores were found in different areas of the quarry leading me to the conclusion that these areas had specific manufacturing functions. I compared lithics from other sites in Linfen from Neolithic to the Erlitou period and concluded that the Mount Dagudui quarry dates to the middle and late period of the Taosi Culture(2500-1900BC) when this region experienced most significant social changes. The most important part is the analysis of the pattern of exploration in the Dagudui quarry. Because of the unique raw material of “Mount Dagudui lithics”, I can define the distribution area of these lithics. It is about 400 km2, centered in Mount Dagudui, east to Yue Mountain, west to Fen River, South to Fu River, and North to Taosi. However, spear-shaped blanks were only found at Taosi. So it is possible that only “Mount Dagudui lithics” at Taosi were from Mount Dagudui directly, and other settlements obtained stone material through exchange with Taosi or distribution by Taosi. Finally, I reached the conclusion that elite individuals at Taosi may have gained control over Dagudui quarry and their rights on the procurement of lithic resources may have helped them to gain economic and political power in region.


Professor Zhang Chi, University of Peking.

Abstract not submitted.

The Xuejiagang Stone Tool Industry

Zhuang Lina, Department of Archaeology, National Museum of China, Beijing.

XueJiaGang Culture is associated with the latter part of Neolithic Period in southern China. Since the 1970s, we have found many cemeteries of the Xuejiagang Culture, in which stone implements make up an important and significant part of the funeral objects. The perforated stone knife, the yue axe and the adze were especially important. My analysis of the frequency and relationships between the stone raw material, the technological issues of manufacture and tool types provided a basis for distinguishing between the different production sites associated with the Xuejiagang stone industry. My paper will discuss the relationship between rock types and stone tools, and between stone artefacts from different production sites. Thin section analysis was used to identify and characterise stone used to implement manufacture. A representative selection of thin sections will be available for examination by participants during the Workshop Session.