ArticlePDF Available

The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished objects from Valencina de la Concepción (Seville, Spain)

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Rock crystal appears relatively frequently in Late Prehistoric Iberian sites, especially in the form of micro-blades and knapping debris. With some exceptions, however, these finds have seldom been looked into in any detail, and therefore little is known about the technology involved in the use of this material, its social and economic relevance or its symbolic significance. In this paper we examine a collection of rock crystal artefacts recently found at Valencina de la Concepción (Seville, Spain), one of the largest 3rd millennium BC sites in Western Europe. Among the objects included in this study are a long dagger blade, twenty-five arrowheads and a core, all of which form the most technically sophisticated and esthetically impressive collection of rock crystal material culture ever found in Prehistoric Iberia. Through the analysis of the procedures and techniques applied in the production of these objects, the chemical characterisation of the raw materials through Raman spectroscopy and RTI image processing and the careful assessment of the archaeological contexts in which they were found, this paper makes a robust contribution towards the study of the role of rock crystal in Copper Age technology and society. Recent research suggest that Valencina was a major node in the circulation of exotic materials such as ivory, amber, cinnabar or flint in Copper Age Iberia, which provides a very good background to assess the relevance of rock crystal as a traded commodity. In addition we discuss the role of rock crystal as a marker of status in large megalithic monuments, as well as its possible symbolic connotations.
Content may be subject to copyright.
The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill
and distinguished objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville,
Spain)
Antonio Morgado
a
, Jos
e Antonio Lozano
b
, Leonardo García Sanju
an
c
,
*
,
Miriam Lucia
~
nez Trivi
~
no
c
, Carlos P. Odriozola
c
, Daniel Lamarca Irisarri
b
,
Alvaro Fern
andez Flores
c
a
University of Granada, Spain
b
Spanish Higher Research Council, Spain
c
University of Seville, Spain
article info
Article history:
Available online xxx
Keywords:
Iberia
Copper Age
Lithic technology
Rock crystal
Megalithic monuments
abstract
Rock crystal appears relatively frequently in Late Prehistoric Iberian sites, especially in the form of
micro-blades and knapping debris. With some exceptions, however, these nds have seldom been
looked into in any detail, and therefore little is known about the technology involved in the use of this
mater ial, it s social and economic relevance or its symbolic signicance. In this paper we examine a
collection of rock crystal artefacts recently found at Valencina de la Concepci
on (Sev ille, Spain), one of
the largest 3rd millennium BC sites in Western Eu rope. Among the objec ts included in this study are a
long dagger blade, twenty-ve arrowheads and a core, all of which form th e most technically sophis-
ticated and esthetically impressive collection of rock crystal material culture ever found in Prehistoric
Iberia. Through the analysis of the procedures and techniques ap plied in the production of these ob-
jects, the chemical characterisation of the raw materials through Raman spectroscopy and RTI image
proce ssing and the careful assessment of the archaeological contexts in which they were found, th is
paper makes a robus t contribution towards the study of the role of rock crystal in Copper Age tech-
nology and society. Recent research suggest that Valencina was a major node in the circulation of exotic
mater ials such as ivory, amber, cinnabar or int in Copper Age Iberia, which provides a very good
background to assess the relevance of rock crystal as a traded commodity. In addition we discuss the
role of rock crystal as a marker of status in large megalithic monuments, as well as its possible symbolic
connotations.
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
In prehistoric Europe, lithic utensils were largely made from
varieties of cryptocrystalline sedimentary rock or other rocks
with conchoidal frac ture. Knapping of minerals such as rock
crystal was less prevalent, due to their anisotropic structure. The
term rock crystal is applied to a monocristal which is as variety
of macro-c rystalline quartz characterised by its hyaline appear-
ance and ordered atomic structure, which determines specic
knapping methods, following its in ternal structure (Crabtree,
1968:10e11; Novikov and Radililovsky, 1990; Mourre, 1994;
Inizan et al., 1999:19e23). In some European region s the
exploitation of rock crystal may have been caused by the dearth
of int (Aubry and Igreja, 2009), although it has been observed
that its exploitation could also be explained by its physical
properties and symbolic value (Reher and Frison, 1991; Taçon,
1991; Sachanbi
nski et al., 2008). The limitations inherent to the
manufacture of rock crystal objects in comparison with objects
made from other raw materials are reected in the reduced size
of the knapped objects, their low level of standardisation and the
particular features of the chaîne op
eratoire involved e including
the frequent use of uncontro lled knapping on an anvil (Pe
~
na and
Wadley, 2014). Nonetheless, a technique for worki ng with rock
crystal which overcame the aforementioned limitations was
developed du ring Late Prehistory in certain European regions.
This was the case of the south-west of the Iberian Peninsula in the
third millennium BCE.
* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: lgarcia@us.es (L. García Sanju
an).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Quaternary International
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/quaint
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
1040-6182/© 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e18
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
Fig. 1. Distribution of sites with objects of quartz and rock crystal of southern Spanish Late Prehistory.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e182
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
Not as much research into the use of rock crystal in Iberian Late
Prehistory has been carried out as into other exotic materials, such
as variscite, ivory and amber. Since the 1980s a handful of articles
(for example F
abregas Valcarce, 1983; F
abregas Valcarce and
Rodríguez Rell
an, 2008; Forteza Gonz
alez et al., 2008) as well as
numerous references in excavation reports and studies of lithic
technology have noted the importance of this raw material. How-
ever, it was not until a recent synthesis was published (Costa
Caram
e et al., 2011) that we began to acquire a general idea of its
importance in the fourth and third millennia BCE, a period in which
it was valued particularly highly and would seem to have been very
socially signicant. According to this synthesis, in the Spanish
southwest (regions of western Andalusia and Extremadura - a
territory with an area of 129,902 km
2
) rock crystal items have been
found in 33 different structures, mostly megalithic monuments
(Table 1, Fig. 1). Some items came from tombs of the same ne-
cropolis. For a further ve sites, items more vaguely described as
quartz crystals (and others) are mentioned that could allude to
rock crystal (Costa Caram
e et al., 2011). The vast majority of these
structures only contained one or two objects, with a few excep-
tions, such as the dolmens of Lanchas I (Valencia de Alc
antara,
C
aceres), El Corchero (also in Valencia de Alc
antara), and Ontiveros
(Valencina de la Concepci
on, Seville), in which 15, 12 and 16 arrow
heads were found respectively, as well as the Cuesta de Los
Almendrillos megalith (Ardite, M
alaga), from which 10 micro-
blades were collected. From a functional viewpoint, rock crystal
appears in these contexts either in its natural form, with very little
or no processing (which is the case with nodules, monocrystals and
prisms), as arrowheads or, more commonly, as micro-blades and
small extraction cores (Costa Caram
e et al., 2011: 261). The only
exceptions to this general rule are two perforated beads from Los
Millares (Almería) and two more from Las Lanchas I and Datas II
megaliths respectively (both belonging to the megalithic site of
Valencia de Alc
antara, in C
aceres). This suggests that in Iberian Late
Prehistory there were well dened patterns for selecting raw ma-
terials according to the use or function they would be given. Stones
such as variscite and amber seem to have been exclusively used to
make body ornaments, whereas rock crystal was predominantly
used to manufacture arrowheads and micro-blades, although
quartz monocrystals and prisms were used in their natural state,
perhaps as personal, apotropaic objects (such as amulets or
charms). In the Palacio III megalithic funerary complex (Almad
en
de la Plata, Seville), a set of monocrystals, prisms and nodules of
various types of quartz, which had not been (or hardly had been)
processed, were identied: they were interpreted as amulets,
talismans, charms or even heirlooms (Forteza Gonz
alez et al.,
2008). The only piece of rock crystal in the Palacio III burial com-
plex was a micro-blade (Forteza Gonz
alez et al., 2008).
Table 1
Objects of quartz and rock crystal of southern Spanish Late Prehistory. Source: Modied from Costa Caram
e et al. (2011).
Site Artefacts (count) Reference
4the3rd Millennia BCE
Alberite (Villamartín, C
adiz) Prism (1) of rock cristal Ramos Mu
~
noz and Giles Pacheco, 1996
La Esparragosa (Chiclana de la Frontera, C
adiz) Prism (1) of Jacinto de Compostela quartz Domínguez-Bella et al., 2008: 222
El Juncal (Ubrique, C
adiz) Core (1) of rock cristal Guti
errez L
opez, 2007: 296
Paraje de Monte Bajo, Tomb E3 (Alcal
a de los
Gazules, C
adiz)
Blades (4) of rock crystal Lazarich Gonz
alez et al., 2010: 199
Cabezo de la Palma (San Bartolom
e, Huelva) Core (1) of rock crystal Pi
~
n
on Varela, 2004
Cortijo El Mimbre, Dolmen 3 (Alpandeire,
M
alaga)
Cores (2) and arrow heads (2) of rock crystal Garrido Luque et al., 1984: 143
Cuesta de los Almendrillos (Ardite, M
alaga) Blades (10) of rock crystal Fern
andez Ruiz and M
arquez Romero, 2004
El Pozuelo, Dolmen 1 (Zalamea la Real, Huelva) Cores (2) and pendant (1) of rock crystal Cerd
an M
arquez et al., 1975
El Pozuelo, Dolmen 5 (Zalamea la Real, Huelva) Cores (4) of rock crystal Cerd
an M
arquez et al., 1975
El Pozuelo, Dolmen 7 (Zalamea la Real, Huelva) Cores (3) of rock crystal Cerd
an M
arquez et al., 1975
Hidalgo (Sanlúcar de Barrameda, C
adiz) Core (1) of rock crystal Carriazo y Arroquia, 1975
La Encina (Valverde del Camino, Huelva) Blade (1) and core (1) of rock crystal Cabrero García, 1978
La Pijotilla, Tomb 3 (Badajoz) Blade (1) of rock crystal Polvorinos del Río et al., 2002
Lanchas I (Valencia de Alc
antara, C
aceres) Arrow heads of rock crystal (15) and white quartz
(16) and bead (1) of rock crystal
Bueno Ramírez, 1988:35e52
Huerta de las Monjas (Valencia de Alc
antara,
C
aceres)
Arrow heads of rock crystal (1) and white quartz
(1); microlith (1), ake (1), core (6), micro-scrapper
(1), micro-blades (2), segment (1), debris (4), quern
(1) prisms (3) of white and hyaline quartz.
Bueno Ramírez, 1988:61e77
El Corchero (Valencia de Alc
antara, C
aceres) Arrow heads (12) of rock crystal; microliths of rock
crystal (2) and white quartz (1)
Bueno Ramírez, 1988:78e84
El Palancar (Valencia de Alc
antara, C
aceres) Arrow heads of rock crystal (1) and white quartz (2) Bueno Ramírez, 1988:93
Zafra II (Valencia de Alc
antara, C
aceres) Arrow heads of rock crystal (2) and white quartz
(1); cores (4) of rock crystal; micro-blade (1) of rock
crystal
Bueno Ramírez, 1988:95e111
Tapias I (Valencia de Alc
antara, C
aceres) Blades (2) and cores (2) of rock crystal; arrow heads
(2) and core (1) in white quartz
Bueno Ramírez, 1988: 114e123
Datas II (Valencia de Alc
antara, C
aceres) Arrow heads of rock crystal (2) and white quartz
(1); bead (1) in white quartz
Bueno Ramírez, 1988: 135e146
Cajir
on I (Valencia de Alc
antara, C
aceres) Ball (1) of rock crystal in a natural state and small
ake (1) of rock crystal
Bueno Ramírez, 1988: 151 y 156
La Zarcita (Santa B
arbara de Casas, Huelva) Core (1) of rock crystal Cerd
an M
arquez et al., 1975
Los Gabrieles, Dolmen 6 (Valverde del Camino,
Huelva)
Blade (1) and core (1) of rock crystal Cabrero García, 1978
Los Gabrieles, Dolmen 4 (Valverde del Camino,
Huelva)
1 quartz crystal Linares Catela, 2009: 220
Los Hurones (Ubrique, C
adiz) Quartz monocrystal (1) Hurtado P
erez, 2009
:79
Los Millares, Tomb 37 (Santa Fe de Mondujar,
Almería)
Bead (1) of quartz Almagro Basch and Arribas Palau, 1963: 124
(continued on next page)
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e18 3
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
The empirical evidence regarding the provenance of the rock
crystal and quartz found in these megalithic monuments is very
scarce. We can mention the analysis of the magnicent smoky
quartz monocrystal found in the dolmen of Alberite (Villamartín,
C
adiz), for which a non-local origin connected with the pegmatite
rock deposits located in the igneous massifs of the Spanish Central
System was suggested (Domínguez-Bella and Morata C
espedes,
1995: 141). In the Palacio III megalithic complex, the mono-
crystals found in the tholos (ornaments 4 and 5) were both classi-
ed as belonging to the milky variety, which is translucent (i.e. not
transparent and with white colour), and interpreted as relatively
rare specimens that were difcult to obtain. This would mean they
were likely to have been traded at a supra-local level, but a concrete
place of origin could not be established. Additionally, of the pieces
from the Iron Age collection found in the gallery dolmen of the
Palacio III megalithic complex, the prase quartz crystal (piece no.2)
is an extraordinarily exotic specimen (even exceptional from a
crystallographic perspective) and therefore, in all probability,
would have been a highly prized and valuable object due to its
rarity. Locations at Llerena or Malpartida de la Serena (Badajoz), or
even certain mining areas in the south-east of C
ordoba were sug-
gested as potential places of origin for these items (Forteza
Gonz
alez et al., 2008:148e149; Murillo-Barroso et al., 2015a:
328e329).
In view of the relative frequency with which quartz and rock
crystal appear in southern Iberian (collective) funerary contexts of
the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE, their disappearance from such
contexts (both individual and collective), in the Early Bronze Age
(from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE), is truly striking. It
would seem that, between the end of the 3rd and the beginning of
the 2nd millennia BCE the use of this raw material as grave goods
was almost entirely abandoned.
This article is intended as a contribution into the research
of rock crystal use among t he communities of Copper Age
southern Iberia. The starting point for this study is a remarkable
set of unpublished objects from the Chalcolithic site of Valencina
de la Concepci
on (Seville). Among these are a dagger blade,
10 arrowheads and a cor e found in two major megalithic mon-
uments, plus ot her smaller items found in non-megalithic
structures. Because of their size and technical characteristics,
both the dagger blade and the core are unique specimens in
the archaeologic al record of Late Prehistoric Iberia. Their techno-
morphological, geochemical and contextual analysi s throws
new light on the use and social signicance of rock crystal,
a subject on which little research had been previously carried
out.
2. Contexts and methods
2.1. Contexts
The settlement of Valencina de la Concepci
on-Castilleja de
Guzm
an (henceforth Valencina), is located in the lower Gua-
dalquivir valley, within the metropolitan area of Seville. Valencina
is one of the largest (around 450 ha) and most signicant sites for
the study of Copper Age Iberia. In the last few years, various pub-
lications have given international dissemination to the research
being carried out in this site, providing new ideas and valuable data
related to key aspects of third millennium BCE Iberian societies,
such as economic production, craft specialisation, metallurgy, cir-
culation of exotic raw materials (in some cases from outside Iberia),
burial practices, social complexity, etc. e see for example Nocete
Calvo et al., 2008; Costa Caram
e et al., 2010; Rogerio Candelera
et al., 2013; García Sanju
an, 2013; García Sanju
an and Murillo-
Barroso, 2013; García Sanju
an et al., 2013; Nocete Calvo et al.,
2013; C
aceres Puro et al., 2014; Murillo-Barroso et al., 2015b; etc. To
date, no systematic study of Valencina's rock crystal nds had been
carried out.
According to the data compiled for this paper (Table 2, Fig. 2),
rock crystal has been found in 8 different sectors of the site:
Ontiveros, PP4-Montelirio, Montelirio tholos, La Huera, La Cima, IES
and Trabajadores and García Lorca streets. The ndings come from
the three great megalithic monuments (Ontiveros, Montelirio and
Structure 10.042e10.049 from the PP4-Montelirio sector), a hypo-
geum (La Huera), three burial pits (Structures 10.015-21-61 and
10.043 in PP4-Montelirio), three non-funerary pits (IES, La Cima
and Trabajadores street) and various other negative non-funerary
structures (García Lorca street). In addition to this, two of the
nds are from particularly poorly documented stratigraphic units
of the PP4-Montelirio sector which were not connected to any
recognisable architecture of deposit (UE-919 and UE-345). In all
non-megalithic contexts, identied objects consist of small blades
and lithic debris, but in the three large megalithic structures
mentioned, much more sophisticated artefacts were found,
including arrow heads (16 in Ontiveros and 10 in the Montelirio
tholos), a dagger blade (Structure 10.049 of the PP4-Montelirio
sector) and a large core with extractions (Montelirio tholos). It is
these last pieces, all found in excavations carried out in recent years
and as yet unpublished, which this article focuses on. In view of this
distribution, rock crystal appears to have been found throughout
the entire site, although all the most sophisticated nished arte-
facts (arrow heads and dagger blade) have been found in its
southern sector, where most (but not all) of the major megalithic
Table 1 (continued )
Site Artefacts (count) Reference
Los Millares, Tomb 63 (Santa Fe de Mondujar,
Almería)
Beads (4) of quartz Almagro Basch and Arribas Palau, 1963: 118
Los Millares, Tomb 3 (Santa Fe de Mondújar,
Almería)
Beads (2) of rock crystal Almagro Gorbea and Arribas Palau, 1963: 116
Martín Gil (Zalamea la Real, Huelva) Arrowheads (1) of rock crystal Cerd
an M
arquez et al., 1975
Palacio III, Hoard (Almad
en de la Plata, Sevilla) Monocrystals (2) of quartz and bead (1) of carnelian Forteza Gonz
alez et al., 2008
Palacio III, Tholos (Almad
en de la Plata, Sevilla) Monocrystals (2) and nodules (3) of quartz and
blade (1) of rock crystal
Forteza Gonz
alez et al., 2008
Puerto de los Huertos (El Berrocal, Huelva) Prisms (3) of rock crystal Linares Catela and García Sanju
an, 2010: 142
Soto II (Trigueros, Huelva) Fragments (2) of rock crystal De Balbín Behrmann and Bueno Ramírez, 1996
Suerte del Bizco (Santa B
arbara de Casas,
Huelva)
Undetermined (1) of rock crystal Pi
~
n
on Varela, 2004
2nd Millennium BCE
Monte Berrueco (Medina Sidonia, C
adiz) Quartz crystals (several, not specied) Escacena Carrasco & De Frutos Reyes, 1981: 171
e172
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e184
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
structures appear. Put together, all these objects provide valuable
new data for the study of rock crystal as an exotic raw material in
Chalcolithic Iberia from a techno-morphological, geochemical and
contextual point of view. Fig. 3 shows an image of the set of items
from the Montelirio tholos and PP4-Montelirio sector, together with
the arrow heads discovered in Ontiveros.
The Montelirio tholos was excavated between 2007 and 2010,
and with the exception of a preliminary report (Fern
andez Flores
and Aycar Luengo, 2013) and some results of the anthropological
study (Fontanals-Coll et al., 2015 ) remains basically unpublished. It
is a great megalithic construction with a 39 m corridor leading to a
main chamber which is 4.75 m in diameter from which, through a
short 1.9 m-long corridor, a secondary chamber, 2.7 m in diameter,
is accessible (Fig. 4A). The whole construction, which extends over
43.75 m in total, is made of large slabs of slate, which were also
used for the corridors' sides as well as the chambers and the main
corridor's roong. The corbelled roong of the two chambers was
built with sun-dried mud. A total minimum number of 25 in-
dividuals has been identied within the construction (20 in the
large chamber, two in the small one and three in the corridor).
Inside Montelirio, an extraordinary set of sumptuous grave goods
was found, the most notable of which is an unspecied number of
shrouds or clothes made of tens of thousands of perforated beads
and decorated with amber beads, but including also other
Fig. 2. Distribution of sectors with rock crystal objects at Valencina.
Table 2
Objects of rock crystal found at Valencina de la Concepci
on, sorted by Sector.
Sector Context Artefacts (count) Previous references
Ontiveros Megalith (Funerary) Arrow heads (16) Carriazo y Arroquia, 1962
García Lorca Street Pits (Non-Funerary) Debris and small fragments (15) J. M Vargas Jim
enez, Pers. Comm.
La Huera (Sevilla) Hypogeum (Funerary) Cores (2) M
endez Izquierdo, 2013: 305e306
PP4-Montelirio UE-345 Debris (1) This paper
PP4-Montelirio UE-919 Debris (1) This paper
PP4-Montelirio Structure 10015-21-61. Pit (Funerary) Small blade (1) debris (2) This paper
PP4-Montelirio Structure 10043. Pit (Funerary) Small blade (1) This paper
PP4-Montelirio Megalith (structure 10.049, upper level)
(Funerary)
Dagger blade (1) García Sanju
an et al., 2013
Montelirio Megalith (tholos) (Funerary) Arrow heads (10), small blades (4)
and core (1)
This paper
Trabajadores Street Pit (UE-92) (Non-Funerary) Debris and small akes (Not specied) L
opez Aldana and Pajuelo Pando, 2013: 159; Pajuelo Pando,
Pers. Comm.
La Cima Pit (Non-Funerary) Cores, small blades and debris (18) Ruiz Moreno, 1991: 462
IES Pit (Non-Funerary) Debris and small fragments (51) Schuhmacher et al., 2013: 499; J. M Vargas Jim
enez,
Pers. Comm.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e18 5
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
remarkable objects such as int arrow heads with long lateral
appendices, four fragments of gold blades, ivory objects, etc.
(Fern
andez Flores and Aycar Luengo, 2013).
The 10 arrow heads, 4 blades and the rock crystal core of the
Montelirio tholos (units 318 and 328) correspond to two altered
levels (319 and 340 respectively), found at the back of the main
chamber. The large number of rock crystal arrow heads and other
materials found in the western zone (at the back of the chamber) is
in stark contrast to the absence of these items in the rest of the
chamber. The accumulation of arrowheads right in the north-
western zone, next to the main chamber's access corridor
(numbering at least 17 among rock crystal and other materials),
suggest an offering similar to those discovered in the main corridor,
where the arrowheads, although made of lower quality materials,
were found in large groups associated with an altar and other of-
ferings (plants). The core and the blades had been deposited in the
central section of this same arch, coinciding with the area in which
a set of clay baetyls appeared. However, signs of alterations in this
area mean that their original position was more difcult to estab-
lish than in the previous case.
The PP4-Montelirio sector was excavated in 2007 and 2008.
In January 2011 the Research Group ATLAS from the University
of Seville began to study the mater ials deposited in the Archae-
ology Museum of Seville (100 boxes in total) . Thus fa r, this study
has focused mainly on Structure 10.042e10.049 from which
various technically sophisticated ivory objects (García Sanju
an
et al., 2013; Lucia
~
nez Trivi
~
no et al., 2014), cinnabar pigment
remains (Rogerio Candelera et al., 2013), a piece of amber
believed to be a int dagger's pommel (Murillo- Barroso and
García Sanju
an, 2013) and human remains (Robles Carrasco and
Díaz-Zorita Bonilla, 2013) have been studied. Already published
studies also include all of the sector's faunal remains (Liesau et al.,
2014) as well as a large gold blade found in Structure 10.029
(Murillo-Barroso et al., 2015b).
Structure 10042e10049 is a two-chambered megalithic con-
struction. This construction has an outer access corridor 13 m in
length and 0.7 m in width (maximum), made from 57 slate slabs (29
on its northern side, 28 on the southern); at the end of this corridor
is the rst chamber, with a circular plan of 2.57 m in diameter,
which was found disturbed by later activity. In the space between
the access corridor and the rst chamber, skeletal remains of four
individuals were identied as well as some grave goods, including
more than 2000 beads covered in red pigment, fragments of a red
clay gurine, more than 80 0 sherds of pottery (some of them
intrusive wheel-thrown ones), fragments of 12 arrowheads, 3 blade
fragments, some lithic chipping debris, very fragmented ivory ob-
jects, etc.
Beyond the rst chamber, a second corridor of 2.52 m (length)
by 0.51 m (width) and formed from 15 slate slabs (7 on the north
side and 8 on the south) separates the rst and the second burial
chambers. This second chamber, found in a much better state of
preservation than the
rst, has a maximum diameter of 2.1 m and is
formed from 23 slabs of slate (Fig. 4B). The excavation inside the
second chamber led to the identication of two stratigraphically-
independent deposits separated by a set of 22 slate slabs laid hor-
izontally which may be interpreted as some sort of seal between
the lower and upper depositional levels, although perhaps they
were originated from the collapse of some structure (this hypoth-
esis is, however, far more unlikely).
The lower depositional level of the second chamber contained
the articulated inhumation of a young male individual aged be-
tween 17 and 25 (Robles Carrasco and Díaz-Zorita Bonilla, 2013 :
377) lying in the foetal position, in connection with a large set of
grave goods, including: an undecorated elephant tusk (laid above
the head), one almond-rim type plate, a set of 23 int blades, one
int halberd with an amber pommel (already mentioned above) as
well as numerous ivory objects (for a study of some of them see
García Sanju
an et al., 2013). Red pigment made from cinnabar had
been sprayed all over this individual and the objects surrounding
him. In the upper depositional level of the second chamber the
nds comprised ve ceramic pots (two complete plates e one with
red pigment e and two half plates, one of them also with red
stains), 38 whole int blades and 16 fragments of other blades, one
int arrow head, numerous ivory objects (most of them decorated
and quite fragmented, between them a palette and the terminal
extreme of a tusk, both decorated), 90 beads, and an ostrich egg
(which has now disappeared) as well as the remarkable rock crystal
dagger blade studied in this paper.
The Ontiveros dolmen, 1 km to the southwest of Montelirio and
PP4-Montelirio, was partially excavated between the end of 1948
and the beginning of 1949 (Carriazo y Arroquia, 1962: 211-212).
The monument's precise morphology is as yet unknown as it was
found underneath an occupied dwelling so it could not be fully
excavated. The excavator explored 10 m of the outer part of the
Fig. 3. Objects studied in this paper. A: Ontiveros arrowheads; B: Montelirio tholos arrowheads; C: PP4-Montelirio dagger blade (Structure 10.049); D: Montelirio tholos core; E:
PP4-Montelirio knapping debris (from UE-345 on the left and UE-919 on the right); F: PP4-Montelirio micro-blades (from Structure 10.015 on the left and Structure 10.043 on the
right); G: Montelirio tholos microblades. Photograph: Miguel
Angel Blanco de la Rubia.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e186
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
Fig. 4. Plans of the main features discussed in the text, showing the location of the rock crystal artefacts: A) Montelirio tholos; B) PP4-Montelirio Sector Structure 10.049. Drawings:
Alvaro Fern
andez Flores and Jos
e Peinado Cucarella.
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e18 7
corridor as well as the atrium, which was semi-circular in plan and
delimited by slabs of slate, like the corridor. Some of the slabs were
reported to have been covered by a layer of intense red pigment.
The nds reported include six small fragments of hand-thrown
pottery, one blade and one point of int, as well as 23 arrow-
heads including 10 made of limestone, 7 made in int and 16
made in rock crystal. The int arrowheads show long lateral
appendices very much like the ones found in the Montelirio tholos.
Evidence of Roman building activity in the form of bricks and tiles
was found inside the corridor. In this paper we use the 15 rock
crystal arrow heads found in Ontiveros and currently kept in the
Archaeology Museum of Seville as a base for comparison with those
of the Montelirio tholos.
2.2. Methods
Characterisation analysis was carried out using confocal micro-
Raman spectroscopy (Smith and Clark, 2004; Edwards and
Chalmers, 2005). This vibrational technique provides information
on the molecular structure of both organic and inorganic materials.
A beam of monochromatic light generates inelastic scattering of the
light upon impact with the material being studied, providing signs
of small changes in frequency specic to the chemical structure of
the body and independent from the incident light's frequency. The
items studied using confocal Raman spectroscopy were the core
and a one arrowhead from the Montelirio tholos and the dagger
from Structure 10.042e10.049 of the PP4-Montelirio. None of the
other arrowheads were studied due to conservation issues.
A labRAMHR spectrometer (Jobin-yvon, Horiba) tted with an
optical microscope with 10 and 50 lenses (Olympus, Japan) was
used. A green laser (532 nm) was used and the Raman signal was
captured by a CCD detector (1064 256 pixels) and kept cool using
a Peltier device. The data were processed using LabSpec Sof tware
(Horiba, Japan).
In order to obtain Raman spectra, samples up to 5 mm in length
were placed on a sample holder. The mapping of the inclusions
corresponding to the core and the dagger were carried out in 1
m
m
steps along both the X and the Y axes. The relationship of the in-
tensity between the 467 cm
1
wave, characteristic of the quartz,
and the 1575 cm
1
waves in the dagger's case and 2930 cm
1
in the
core's were measured in each spectrum, since they were the in-
clusions' characteristics (graphite, and kerogen respectively). Sub-
sequently, depending on this relationship, a colour is assigned at
this juncture, which will ultimately unite those adjacent to create
the map. Black colours thus exclusively indicate the presence of
quartz, whilst the appositions are marked by blues and reds.
The technological analysis focused on determining knapping
methods through diacritical examination (Dauvois, 1976: 195;
Baena Preysler and Cuartero Monteagudo, 2006) as well as stan-
dard diagnostic criteria (Pelegrin, 200 0, 20 02) to reconstruct the
chaîne op
eratoire (Pelegrin et al., 1988; Sellet, 1993; Shott, 2003). A
Leika 2000 binocular microscope and macro-photographic image
captures have been used to recognise certain knapping marks. In
addition, in order to further examine the marks left on the objects
by the manufacturing process the dagger blade was recorded by
Reectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), which is a digital image
processing method that enables surfaces that have been worked on
to be accurately examined.
RTI uses the transformation of the reectance properties of any
surface through contrast enhancement to improve the perception
of its micro-topography by using Polynomial Texture Maps
(Malzbender et al., 2000, 2001), which are image-based represen-
tations of functions of two independent parameters (lu and lv),
contained in every pixel, specifying how the green, red and blue
bands (RGB) vary according to the direction of a light source.
Polynomial Texture Maps can be obtained through multiple pho-
tographs of a xed object from a xed camera with varying lighting
directions. The combination of Polynomial Texture Mapping and
RTI provides real-time rendering, interactive visualization of
changing lighting conditions and performance of enhancements of
the captured reectance functions, revealing the most subtle de-
tails of a surface. Compared to other methods of image processing,
RTI does not involve 3D geometry, which makes it very affordable
in terms of costs and processing time (Mudge et al., 2006).
3. Techno-morphological analysis
3.1. Core and micro-blades
On a quantitative level, the presence of knapped rock crystal
objects in southern Iberia Peninsula is better represented by small
cores and micro-blades extracted by pressure knapping. Given its
large size, the core deposited in the Montelirio tholos (Figs. 5e7)is
therefore an extraordinary nd. The core, used for the extraction of
small blades, is supported naturally by a hexagonal rock macro-
crystal, four of whose faces are recognisable. The extractions were
prepared through faceted pressure planes, a fairly common pro-
cedure in the Neolithic to produce blades and micro-blades. How-
ever, this procedure was not commonly used for the production of
siliceous rock blades in the third millennium BCE. Several unipolar
blades were noted in the core, in a semi-enveloping front, except
for the sides and the rear section. All the extractions are parallel to
the mineral's face, meaning the core is structured like a prism from
the pressure plane. One, or at most two, sets of blades were
extracted, as the rst extractions. Therefore, the core was deposited
in the tomb before it became depleted, which further underlines its
value as a grave good.
If we analyse the biography of this object, a remarkable
conclusion is reached: its most recent exploitation was its use as a
core. One of its faces has a sawed surface (Fig. 7). The rst step to
process the quartz monocrystal was to cut a fragment using this
technique. This enabled a rectangular support to be obtained,
which would subsequently be processed to create a knapped ob-
ject. The sawing was parallel to one of the hexagonal faces. A
Fig. 5. Core from the Montelirio tholos. Photograph: Miguel
Angel Blanco de la Rubia.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e188
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
problem in the last phase of extracting the sawed fragment, carried
out through hammering, caused the monocrystal to fracture. This
led the craftsperson to abandon the task of cutting up the min-
eral, later moving on to pressure knapping to create blades on two
of its faces' planes, those that had not been sawed.
One interesting problem is how the monocrystal was sawed.
Ideally, a lithic material with two fundamental characteristics is
required to saw rock crystal. The rst of these characteristics must
be mineralogical, with greater hardness (Mohs) than hyaline
quartz, for example with minerals such as Zoisite, Epidote (6e7),
Clinozoisite (7) Staurolite, Almandine (7e7.5), Zircon, Andalusite
(7.5), Spinel (8) or Corundum (9). The second must be structural, as
penetrative foliation is required, where minerals are oriented as a
result of the high pressure the rock has been subjected to. Conse-
quently, thanks to this foliation (schistosity), the rock is more
suitable for being transformed into the thin, at tool required for
this purpose. Metamorphic rocks with these characteristics must be
produced in an area of mid-to high-grade regional metamorphism,
as micaschists or quartz schists in amphibolite or eclogite facies,
where any of the aforementioned minerals would be located. To our
knowledge, there is no record of a tool made with any of the
minerals mentioned above in southern Spain's Copper Age, but the
know-how and craftsmanship required to work with rock crystal
could well have been restricted to a small group of skilled people
rather than being widespread, which may have rendered the tools
involved very difcult to trace archaeologically.
The Montelirio core is a unique example of how Copper Age
craftspeople worked rock crystal to create standardised supports.
Two methods were used: a) Sawing to attain wider and longer
supports; b) pressure to procure blades. The Montelirio core, while
uncommon, is not the only one of its kind. Another specimen with
identical characteristics is mentioned in the region's archaeological
records, forming part of the grave goods of the now-disappeared El
Minguillo I dolmen (Cordoba) (Leisner and Leisner, 1943: 190, plate
53).
There are other knapped objects inside the Montelirio tholos
along with the core: six micro-blades (between 20 and 30 mm in
length) which are not connected to the core's products. Further-
more, there is also a ake of a core's crust from a large crystal's
plane, and 10 foliaceous arrowheads, all of which have a concave
base and long lateral appendices.
3.2. Arrow heads
Rock crystal arrowheads can now be said to be a prominent
element of the most sophisticated material culture found at
Valencina. A set of 16 of these arrowheads was found during the
excavations carried out in the Ontiveros megalithic monument
between December 1948 and February 1949 (Carriazo y Arroquia,
1962)(Fig. 8). Similar arrow heads, 10 in total, have also been
found in the Montelirio tholos (Fig. 9). All these arrowheads were
made by pressure-knapping and were of the same type: a more or
less rounded concave base with long lateral appendices and micro-
denticulated edges that were produced with an object provided
with a hard tip of barely 1 or 2 mm. The long lateral appendices of
these arrowheads are similar to those made in int, of which a
number of examples are known in the Montelirio tholos. However,
even greater skill must have been required to produce these unique
features when using rock crystal.
The width of these foliaceous points (around 20e30 mm) en-
ables us to surmise the type of support necessary to produce them,
which rules out the possibility that a laminar support was used.
However, the bifacial knapping present in this rock crystal points
was carried out using the principles of conchoidal fracture. This was
possible because the craftspeople followed the axes parallel to the
mineral's direction of growth. Foliaceous arrowheads have been
found in other megaliths in the region, such as Cortijo Mimbre
(M
alaga), Minguillo (Cordoba) and El Pozuelo (Huelva). Their ty-
pology is different, as they tend to be triangular with slightly
concave or marked bases, and they do not display the long lateral
shafts found in the Valencina ones.
3.3. Dagger blade
The rock crystal dagger blade appeared in the upper level of
Structure 10.049 of the PP4-Montelirio sector, in association with
an ivory hilt and sheath, which renders it an exceptional object in
Late Prehistoric Europe (García Sanju
an et al., 2013)(Figs. 10 and
11). The dagger was discovered in the south side of the chamber
(the left side as you enter it) very close to the chamber wall and less
than a meter from the entrance (García Sanju
an et al., 2013). The
blade is 214 mm in length, a maximum of 59 mm in width and
13 mm thick. Its morphology is not unheard of in the Iberian
Peninsula, although all the samples recorded thus far were made
from int and not rock crystal. Foliaceous bifacial macro-elements
with lateral notches separate the blade from the heel to be xed to
the ivory handle. Knapped artefacts with a similar typology are well
represented in funerary contexts in southern and western Iberia
(Leisner and Leisner, 1943; Forenbaher, 1999). However, they are
quantitatively scarce in comparison to other types of knapped lithic
tools found in Late Neolithic and Copper age burials.
The manufacture of the rock crystal dagger blade must have
been based on an accumulation of transmitted empirical knowl-
edge and skill taken from the production of int dagger blades as
well from know-how of rock-crystal smaller foliaceous bifacial
objects, such as Ontiveros and Montelirio arrowheads. Some of the
characteristics of the technological process involved in its produc-
tion can be deduced from the observable technical marks on the
piece (Figs. 12 and 13). From all this we can develop the following
hypothesis about the chaîne op
eratoire veried during the pro-
duction stage:
a. Obtaining the raw material. The piece's size is indicative of the
original mineral support. It was obtained from a large
Fig. 6. Core from the Montelirio tholos. Photograph: Miguel
Angel Blanco de la Rubia.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e18 9
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
monocrystal at least 220 mm in length and 60 mm in width.
Given that these single crystals are hexagonal, they would have
a similar width along all their different axes.
b. Extraction of the support. The two faces of the dagger are pol-
ished. Polishing was part of the support's preparation. The raw
material is normally reduced in its bifacial elements through
percussion. Given that in this case percussion reduction is
impossible due to the internal structure of the crystal, polishing
may have been the technique chosen to work the large support
without causing any accidents or fractures, thus reaching one of
the growth axes facilitating the subsequent knapping, which
would have been similar to conchoidal fracture. We can deduce
that reducing a hexagonal monocrystal by polishing all its six
axes, each nearly 60 mm in size, must have required a consid-
erable effort. A second option would have been to extract a
rectangular support of a similar size to that of the nished object
through sawing parallel to one of the faces. This is a procedure
that must have been used to prepare supports for arrow heads
with long lateral appendices. The technical marks show the two
faces were polished from one corner to the other descending
from left to right.
c. Shaping (Façonnage): The next task was to shape the sharp
edges of the blade and lateral notches that made it t with the
ivory handle. This was carried out by applying pressure bifa-
cially. The edges have at least begun to notably reduce in size
through knapping. These raised areas were subsequently pol-
ished in order to even out the edges before the dagger blade's
edges were formed denitively.
d. Final retouching: The last task was to retouch the edges by
micro-denticulation and to produce the lateral notches so the
handle could be attached. This task was also carried out by
applying pressure from the tip towards the base, although no
unique superimposition process on subsequent raised areas was
found.
The morpho-technology of this rock crystal dagger blade can be
seen in common lithic int products from other regions throughout
southern Iberia. They are most prevalent along Portugal's Atlantic
seaboard, particularly in the Tagus estuary, where there are tombs
such as the Casainhos dolmen (Leisner, 1965: plate 22), San Mar-
tinho de Sintra (Leisner, 1965: plate 32) and Folha das Barradas
(Leisner, 1965: plate35), among others. In the south-west of Spain,
Fig. 7. Core from the Montelirio tholos. Drawing: Mois
es Bellilty.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e1810
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
as well as in Valencina, there are similar bifacial elements, with
lateral notches, in the tholoi of La Zarcita (Cerd
an M
arquez et al.,
1975) and El Moro (Garrido Roiz and Orta García, 1967) in Huelva,
as well as the hypogea of Torre Melgarejo (C
adiz) (Gonz
alez
Rodríguez and Ramos Mu
~
noz, 1990). They can also be found in
the southeast of the peninsula in the necropolis in Los Millares
(Almería) (Leisner and Leisner, 1943: illustration 10e11). In general,
with the exception of the specimen found in La Garma (Omo
~
no,
Cantabria), a natural cave burial dating to the middle of the 3rd
millennium cal BCE (Arias Cabal et al., 1999) this is a technology
only found in southern Iberia and, more specically, in the south-
western quadrant.
4. Geochemical characterisation
Geochemical analysis through Raman has been carried out on
three of the items: the core and one arrow head fragment from the
Montelirio tholos and the dagger blade from PP4-Montelirio. Two
Fig. 8. Arrowheads from Ontiveros. Photograph: Miguel
Angel Blanco de la Rubia.
Fig. 9. Arrowheads from the Montelirio tholos. Photograph: Miguel
Angel Blanco de la Rubia.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e18 11
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
are indicative of larger rock macrocrystals. Given that a larger set of
objects was found in the Montelirio tholos, the same process has
been applied to a ake found in this tomb in order to establish
whether it could match the core found in the same tomb.
All three items analysed contain some evidence of organic
matter, from either bitumen or graphite (Figs. 14 and 15). This in-
dicates that the traceable hyaline quartz these objects were made
from is of hydrothermal origin. Given that this organic matter is
involved in the circulation process of these quartz-rich uids on
sedimentary host rocks, the quartz must have crystallised with
organic matter inside it. In this respect, it could be argued that there
are slate-based materials where the mineralisation process
occurred, ruling out the possibility that this hyaline quartz came
from pegmatitic granitic material. Consequently, we can deduce
that the source of this hyaline quartz must be restricted to an area
with an abundance of hyaline quartz mineralisation from slate-
based, lutaceous or greywacke-like materials. This line of thought
brings to mind two very different paleo-domains. The rst of these
is in the Nevado-Fil
abride territory of the Baetic System (where
there is an abundance of schists and micaschists) and the second is
in the schist-greywacke domain in the Central Iberian Zone of the
Iberian Massif. In contrast, in granite batholiths of the Central
Iberian Zone, for example the Nisa-Alburquerque batholith, there is
another series of mineralisations in pegmatites and quartz veins, in
particular wolframiteecassiterite, tin and niobiumetantalum,
lithium in aluminosilicate and phosphate form, and uranium
(Gallego, 1992; Gumiel et al., 2002).
Therefore, although the specic point of provenance of the rock
crystal dagger, arrowhead and core cannot be precisely pinpointed
at this stage, the results obtained here suggest two potential
sources, both located several hundred km away from Valencina.
The Central Iberian Zone of the Iberian Massif was suggested as a
potential source for the large monocrystal found in the Neolithic
dolmen of Alberite. On the other hand, the Baetic System is a known
source of int circulating in southern Iberia during the third mil-
lennium BCE (Afonso Marrero et al., 2011; Morgado et al., 2011),
which makes it a good candidate to be the source of at least some of
the rock crystal studied here.
5. Discussion
5.1. Singularity of the technological process
Lithic technology achieved a high mark in the southern Iberian
Copper Age (Nocete Calvo et al., 2005; Morgado et al., 2011;
Morgado and Pelegrin, 2012). Specialisation is not only reected
in the exploitation of minerals carried out by certain communities
with access to the region's best outcrops of siliceous rock (Ramos
Mill
an et al., 1997; Linares Catela et al., 1998; Morgado and
Lozano, 2011), but also by the development of complex produc-
tion systems involving specic knapping methods and techniques
(Morgado et al., 2009). This was reinforced by the use of specic
knapping tools such as copper awls (Pelegrin, 2006, 2012; Pelegrin
and Morgado, 2007). Blade technology and bifacial foliaceous
products (commonly called halberds and daggers
) represent the
benchmark of this Copper Age advanced lithic technology that with
the start on the Bronze Age would disappear almost completely.
The exploitation and knapping of rock crystal was an adaptation
of this sociocultural process. Contrary to the case of int or varis-
cite, no prehistoric rock crystal mines have been identied in the
Iberian Peninsula. As ethnographic data suggest, this raw material
could have been exploited just occasionally and opportunistically
by small groups or even individual specialists, without complex
logistical organisation (Brandl and Trnka, 2014: 124). Craft pro-
cesses for producing unique objects such as the dagger from
Valencina's Structure 10.049 and the arrow heads with long lateral
appendices from Ontiveros and Montelirio are part of the heritage
of craftsmanship in lithic work achieved by Copper Age societies.
However, the motives behind making them from hyaline quartz,
and not int, must have been very specic (perhaps connected to
some sort of symbolism being attributed to this material) and
involved a series of specic adaptations. We must depart from the
mineral structure itself in order to establish how these craftspeople
worked.
Rock crystal is structured in such a way that each silicon atom is
surrounded by and connected to four oxygen atoms, and each ox-
ygen atom is connected to two silicon atoms, which creates a
hexagonal grid. The mesh thus consists of groups of SiO
4
whose
spatial orientation is different depending on the different planes in
the crystalline structure. The oxygen silicon bond is polar and co-
valent, where the silicon atoms and oxygen are unable to move
freely within the crystal. Therefore, the hyaline quartz crystal has a
macromolecular structure, which makes it very hard. These crystal-
chemical characteristics mean the crystal cannot be hit from any
Fig. 10. Dagger blade from Structure 10.049 (PP4-Montelirio sector). Photograph:
Miguel
Angel Blanco de la Rubia.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e1812
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
crystallographic direction, since its conchoidal fracture is limited to
its internal arrangement.
Consequently, rock crystal knapping has its limitations due to its
crystalline structure, as experiments have shown (Crabtree, 1968:
10e11; Cotterell and Kamminga, 1982; Rami Soneira and Ramil
Rego, 1997; Rodet et al., 2013; Pe
~
na and Wadley, 2014). Knapping
associated with conchoidal fracture is possible parallel to the
minerals main growth axes. Pressure-extraction of akes and small
micro-blades less than 30e40 mm long should not have implied
great technical challenges. These micro-blades and small cores are
indicative of a separation with regionally developed Copper Age
blade technology whose knapping method is rooted in Neolithic
technology: a semi-enveloping extraction face with a faceted
micro-blade extraction preparation procedure carried out by
applying pressure (Morgado and Pelegrin, 2012).
However, producing foliaceous items involved a signicant
qualitative leap. There are only eight megalithic monuments in
Andalusia with these arrowheads, although four of them (Ontiveros
and Montelirio in Valencina together with Minguillo 1 and 4 in
Villanueva de C
ordoba), have nearly 90% of all the known artefacts.
The typology of arrow heads is not particularly varied: they are
triangular with a slightly concave base (Minguillo and El Pozuelo
dolmens), even those with somewhat developed concave bases, up
to the more stylised ones with very developed lateral appendices,
which are only found in Valencina.
Knapping these arrow heads with long appendices required a
sufciently long and wide rectangular support so they could be
shaped through pressure retouching. The Montelirio core enables
us to explain how this type of support was obtained, most probably
by sawing parallel to one of the large hexagonal hyaline quartz
monocrystal's faces. Sawing was used in European Late Prehistory
on hard rocks without an optimal conchoidal fracture, recognised
for cutting polished axes (Giot, 1952; Nougier and Robert, 1953;
Cordier, 1987; Kelterborn, 1991; Croutsch, 2005; Pailler, 2005).
This has also been observed in other regions in the world
(Mirambell, 1968; Melgar Tísoc and Solís Ciriaco, 2013; Melgar
Tísoc et al., 2013). This sawing procedure would have enabled an
appropriate support to be obtained, which could be used for the
subsequent pressure knapping task to shape the arrow heads with
long shafts. Future experimental work will enable us to test the role
of sawing in the making of these artefacts.
To date, the dagger from the PP4-Montelirio sector constitutes
the greatest expression of hyaline quartz bifacial knapping known
in Western Europe. It follows the typical Copper Age patterns in the
Fig. 11. Dagger blade from Structure 10.049 (PP4-Montelirio sector). Drawing: Mois
es Bellilty.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e18 13
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
bifacial knapping of macro-foliaceous items made from siliceous
rocks, though adapted to the monocrystal's structure. The raw
material was a large macrocrystal of more than 200 mm in length.
We cannot categorically conrm whether the support was extrac-
ted in a similar way to produce the arrowheads, i.e. through sawing.
However, it is apparent that both sides were polished in one di-
rection, descending from one corner to the other, which could be a
sign of this technique. What is certain is that both sides were pol-
ished in preparation, followed by at least three stages, involving
sculpture, polish and pressure sculpture of both sides. In short, at
the very least various phases of work were carried out, combining
different techniques which involved a considerable amount of skill
and work e complemented with the equally extraordinary skills
involved in the making of the ivory handle of this dagger.
Therefore, we can conrm that the knapping of foliaceous
bifacial items constituted a qualitative leap in working with rock
crystal. This implies that some individuals acquired a rare skill and
savoir-faire that was passed down over time. This culminated in the
craft specialisation of rock crystal work, with these objects bringing
together the techno-economic characteristics of the concept: a rare
raw material, a technical process involving an initiation and pro-
longed learning process and an end use beyond the practical use or
the domestic context (Rosen,1989; Roux and Pelegrin, 1989; Costin,
1991, 2001; Freidel, 1998; Pelegrin, 2007; Kerner, 2010). The dagger
blade from PP4-Montelirio in Valencina de la Concepci
on is the best
example of this and enables us to further understand the social
structure of these communities and the use of such objects as
valuable belongings (Osborne, 2004; Gallay, 2010).
5.2. Social dimension and symbolism
As well as emphasising the high level of technical skill achieved
by the lithic knappers of Copper Age southern Iberia, this study
enables the social and symbolic signicance of rock crystal to be
evaluated. At Valencina, rock crystal is present in various types of
contexts, both funerary and non-funerary. Among the funerary
contexts, there are relatively simple structures, such as the three
pits in the PP4-Montelirio sector (Structures 10015-21-61 and
10043), or the La Huera hypogeum, which has relatively modest
grave goods in both quality and quantity. The more technically
sophisticated items, however, were deposited in the larger mega-
lithic structures: Montelirio, Structure 10-042-10.049 and Onti-
veros. As such, it is reasonable to assume that although the raw
material was relatively available throughout the community that
inhabited or frequented Valencina in the Copper Age, only the kin
groups, factions or individuals who were buried in megaliths were
able to afford the added value that allowed the production of
Fig. 12. Dagger blade from Structure 10.049 (PP4-Montelirio sector). Microphotograph
showing A: Main polishing; B: Retouching and polishing of the reverse; C: Final
retouching of the edge, without polishing.
Fig. 13. Dagger blade from Structure 10.049 (PP4-Montelirio sector). RTI images of side B showing striation caused by sawing and/or polishing. A: Zoomed-in area; B: Rendering
mode: Diffuse Gain (Gain 39); C: Rendering mode: Specular Enhancement (Diffuse Color: 65/Specularity: 70/Highlight Size: 75); D: Rendering mode: Specular Enhancement
(Diffuse Color: 0/Specularity: 100/Highlight Size: 142). Photographs: Miriam Lucia
~
nez Trivi
~
no.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e1814
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
sophisticated objects such as arrow heads or dagger blades. In this
respect, however, it is important to note that, paradoxically, none of
the most sophisticated artefacts studied in this paper can be
ascribed to any particular individual: the rock crystal dagger from
Structure 10.042e10.049 was found in the upper level of the main
chamber (10.049) in which no human bones were identied; in
Montelirio, neither the core nor the arrowheads can be ascribed to
any on 20 individuals found in the main chamber; lastly, in the case
of Ontiveros, the only available publication offers no evidence that
the 16 arrow heads were associated to any particular individual.
It seems therefore reasonable to suggest that rock crystal may
have had a dual signicance for the Chalcolithic society of Valen-
cina. On the one hand, it had a social signicance due to the exot-
icism of the material and the fact that its transformation required
very specic skills and probably some degree of technical special-
isation. These objects would have had a surplus value based on
the exoticism and rarity of the raw material, the techno-economic
investment of their manufacture (a know-how limited to very
few people) and their use linked to the world of beliefs and
funerary practices. They probably represent funerary paraphernalia
only accessible to the elite of this time-period. The association of
the dagger blade to a handle made of ivory, also a non-local raw
material that must have been of great value, strongly suggests the
high-ranking status of the people making use of such objects.
On the other hand, rock crystal must have had a symbolic sig-
nicance as a raw material invested with special meanings and
connotations. The literature provides examples of societies in
which rock crystal and quartz as raw materials symbolise vitality,
magical powers and a connection with ancestors (Eliade, 2001:
56e60; 2004: 19e 20; M
arquez Pecchio and Eielson, 1985). There is
also a host of evidence that the raw material was used symbolically
Fig. 14. Raman analysis: map.
Fig. 15. Raman analysis: spectrum.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e18 15
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
and apotropaically in European Late Prehistoric literature (Cassen,
2000; Della Casa, 2005; Forteza Gonz
alez et al., 2008;
Sachanbi
nski et al., 2008). In her analysis of European Neolithic
religion, Marija Gimbutas linked the ritual and votive use of white
quartz nodules to a symbol of death and regeneration often asso-
ciated with funerary spaces (Gimbutas, 1996: 219). Quartz and rock
crystal were even portrayed as rocks with great supernatural
powers in European Christian tradition. In his Lapidarium, King
Alfonso X the Wise of Castile (1276e1279 CE) emphasised its power
to connect human beings with the spiritual world, as well as its
ability to protect them from danger (Forteza Gonz
alez et al., 2008:
148). Therefore, among Copper Age people, the production of lithic
arrowheads or blades from rock crystal probably transcended the
mere social function attributed to otherwise common objects for
daily use.
It is also equally important to mention that these exceptional
rock-crystal objects further highlight the signicance of Valencina
as a central place receiving non-local exotic and foreign raw ma-
terials and goods. Following recent studies, Valencina stands out for
being home to the largest Copper Age collections of gold (Murillo-
Barroso et al., 2015b) and ivory (García Sanju
an et al., 2013)in
Iberia, and also for having yielded signicant collections of amber,
cinnabar, high-quality knapped int objects and copper artefacts.
The presence of a signicant number of scallop shells (Pecten
maximus) used as grave goods in the PP4-Montelirio sector has
recently come to light (Liesau et al., 2014). Scallops are a highly
valuable species of marine mollusc and could also come under the
category of exotic products. The discussion made in this article
concerning rock crystal conrms Valencina's status as an excep-
tional location with a high concentration of exotic raw materials
and rare products coming from all over Iberia and, in some cases,
beyond.
Acknowledgements
We would like to thank Juan Manuel Vargas Jim
enez and Ana
Pajuelo Pando for the information they kindly provided regarding
the excavated areas in IES, as well as García Lorca and Dinamarca
streets. We also give our thanks to Ana Navarro Ortega, director of
the Archaeological Museum of Seville, for enabling us to examine
and photograph the pieces included in this study. This research was
carried out within the research project Study of the PP4-
Montelirio Sector of Valencina de la Concepci
on, First Phase
(2011e2014), approved by the Andalusian Regional Government.
References
Afonso Marrero, J.A., C
amara Serrano, J.A., Martínez Fern
andez, G., Molina
Gonz
alez, F., 2011. Objects in exotic raw materials and the hierarchical structure
of the tombs in the Los Millares necropolis (Santa Fe de Mondújar, Almería,
Spain). In: García Sanju
an, L., Scarre, C., Wheatley, D. (Eds.), Exploring Time and
Matter in Prehistoric Monuments: Absolute Chronology and Rare Rocks in
European Megaliths, Proceedings of the 2nd EMSG Meeting (Seville, November
2008), Junta de Andalucía, Sevilla, pp. 295e332.
Arias Cabal, P., Onta
~
n
on Peredo, R., Gonz
alez Urquijo, J.E., Ib
a
~
nez Est
evez, J.J., 1999.
El pu
~
nal de sílex calcolítico de La Garma (Omo
~
no, Cantabria). Sautuola. Revista
del Instituto de Prehistoria y Arqueología Sautuola 6, 219e228.
Almagro Basch, M., Arribas Palau, A., 1963. El Poblado y la Necr
opolis Megalíticos de
Los Millares (Santa Fe de Mondújar, Almería). In: Bibliotheca Praehistorica
Hispana 3. CSIC, Madrid.
Baena Preysler, J., Cuartero Monteagudo, F., 2006. M
as all
a de la tipología lítica:
lectura diacrítica y experimentaci
on como claves para la reconstrucci
on del
proceso tecnol
ogico. In: Maillo, J.M., Baquedano, E. (Eds.), Miscel
anea en
Homenaje a Victoria Cabrera, Zona Arqueol
ogica 7. Museo Arqueol
ogico
Regional, Madrid, pp. 144e161.
Brandl, M., Trnka, G., 2014. Contemporary rock crystal mining in Minas Gerais,
Brazil: an ethno-archaeological case study. In: Bostyn, F., Giligny, F. (Eds.), Lithic
Raw Material Resources and Procurement in Pre- and Protohistoric Time:
Proceedings of the 5th International Conference of the UISPP Commission on
Flint Mining in Pre- and Protohistoric Times (Paris, 10e11 September 2012), BAR
International Series 2656. Archaeopress, Oxford, pp. 121e130.
Bueno Ramírez, P., 1988. Los D
olmenes de Valencia de Alc
antara. In: Excavaciones
Arqueol
ogicas de Espa
~
na 155. Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid.
Cabrero García, R., 1978. El Fen
omeno Megalítico en Andalucía Occidental. Uni-
versidad de Sevilla, Sevilla.
C
aceres Puro, L.M., Mu
~
niz Guinea, F., Rodríguez Vidal, J., Vargas Jim
enez, J.M.,
Donaire Romero, T., 2014. Marine bioerosion in rocks of the prehistoric tholos of
La Pastora (Valencina de la Concepci
on, Seville, Spain): archaeological and
palaeoenvironmental implications. Journal of Archaeological Science 41,
435e446.
Carriazo y Arroquia, J. de M., 1962. El dolmen de Ontiveros (Valencina de la Con-
cepci
on, Sevilla). In: Homenaje al Profesor Cayetano de Mergelina. Universidad
de Murcia, Murcia, pp. 209e229.
Carriazo y Arroquia, J. de M., 1975. El dolmen de Hidalgo (junto a la desembo-
cadura del Guadalquivir) y las contiguas sepulturas en fosa eneolíticas. In:
Actas del XIII Congreso Nacional de Arqueología (Huelva, 1973). Zaragoza,
pp. 327e332.
Cassen, S., 2000. Les cristaux de roche du tertre et de la tombe. In: El
ements
dArchitecture. Exploration d'un Tertre Fun
eraire
a Lannec er Gadouer, Erdeven,
Morbihan. Constructions et Reconstructions dans le N
eolithique Morbihannais.
Propositions pour une Lecture Symbolique. Editions Chauvinoises, Chauvigny,
pp. 271e278.
Cerd
an M
arquez, C., Leisner, G., Leisner, V., 1975. Los sepulcros megalíticos de
Huelva. (Excavaciones arqueol
ogicas del Plan Nacional 1946e1952). In: Almagro
Basch, M. (Ed.), Huelva, Prehistoria y Antigüedad. Editora Nacional, Madrid,
pp. 41e108.
Cordier, G., 1987. Exemples tourangeaux de sciage des roches au N
eolithique.
Bulletin de la Soci
et
ePr
ehistorique Française 84 (9), 278e281.
Costa Caram
e, M.E., Díaz-Zorita Bonilla, M., García Sanju
an, L., Wheatley, D., 2010.
The Copper Age settlement of Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain):
demography, metallurgy and spatial organization. Trabajos de Prehistoria 67
(1), 87e118 .
Costa Caram
e, M.E., García Sanju
an, L., Murillo-Barroso, M., Parrilla Gir
aldez, R.,
Wheatley, D.W., 2011. Artefacts produced in rare rocks from funerary contexts
of the 4the2nd millennia cal BCE in southern Spain: a review. In: García
Sanju
an, L., Scarre, C., Wheatley, D.W. (Eds.), Exploring Time and Matter in
Prehistoric Monuments: Absolute Chronology and Rare Rocks in European
Megaliths, Proceedings of the 2nd European Megalithic Studies Group Meeting
(Seville, Spain, November 2008). Menga: Journal of Andalusian Prehistory,
Monograph n
1. Junta de Andalucía, Seville, pp. 253e293.
Costin, C.L., 1991. Craft specialization: issues in dening, documenting and
explaining the organization of production. In: Schiffer, B.M. (Ed.), Archaeo-
logical Method an d Theory, vol. 3. University of Arizona Press, Tucson,
pp. 1e56.
Costin, C.L., 2001. Craft production systems. In: Feinman, G.M., Price, T.D. (Eds.),
Archaeology at the Millennium: a Sourcebook. Springer, New York,
pp. 273e327.
Cotterell, G., Kamminga, J., 1982. The mechanics of aking. In: Hayden, B. (Ed.),
Lithic Use-wear Analysis. Academic Press, London, pp. 97e112.
Crabtree, D.E., 1968. Mesoamerian polyhedral cores and prismatic. American An-
tiquity 33, 446e478.
Croutsch, C., 2005. Le Sciage des Roches Tenaces au Nord-Ouest des Alpes
(4300e2450 av. J.-C.). In: BAR International Series 136. Archaeopress, Oxford.
Dauvois, M., 1976. Pr
ecis de Dessin Dynamique et Structural des Industries Lithiques
Pr
ehistoriques. CNRS, P
erigueux.
Della Casa, P., 2005. Lithic resources in the early prehistory of the Alps. Archaeo-
metry 47 (2), 221e234.
De Balbín Behrmann, P., Bueno Ramírez, P., 1996. Soto, un ejemplo de arte mega-
lítico al Suroeste de la Península. In: Moure Romanillo, A. (Ed.), El Hombre F
osil
80 A
~
nos Despu
es: Homenaje a Hugo Obermaier. Universidad de Cantabria,
Santander, pp. 467e505.
Domínguez-Bella, S., Morata C
espedes, D., 1995. Aplicaci
on de las t
ecnicas miner-
al
ogicas y petrol
ogicas a la arqueometría: Estudio de materiales del Dolmen de
Alberite (Villamartín, C
adiz). Zephyrus 48, 129e142.
Domínguez-Bella, S., Ramos Mu
~
noz, J., P
erez Rodríguez, M., 2008. Productos
arqueol
ogicos ex
oticos en los contextos de los yacimientos prehist
oricos de la
banda atl
antica de C
adiz. Inferencias de su documentaci
on. In: Ramos Mu
~
noz, J.
(Ed.), La Ocupaci
on Prehist
orica de la Campi
~
na Litoral y Banda Atl
antica de
C
adiz. Aproximaci
on al Estudio de las Sociedades Cazadoras-Recolectoras,
Tribales-Comunitarias y Clasistas Iniciales. Junta de Andalucía, Sevilla,
pp. 213e229.
Edwards, H.G.M., Chalmer, J.M., 2005. Practical Raman spectroscopy. In:
Edwards, H.G.M., Chalmers, J.M. (Eds.), Raman Spectroscopy in Archaeology and
Art History. Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, pp. 41e67.
Elíade, M., 2001. El Chamanismo y las T
ecnicas Arcaicas del
Extasis. Fondo de Cul-
tura Econ
omica, Madrid.
Escacena Carrasco, J.L., De Frutos Reyes, G., 1981. Enterramientos de la Edad del
Bronce del Cerro del Berrueco (Medina Sidonia, C
adiz). Pyrenae 17e18,
165e189.
F
abregas Valcarce, R., 1983. Los prismas de cuarzo en la cultura megalítica del
Noroeste de la Península Ib
erica. Brigantium 4, 7e12.
F
abregas Valcarce, R., Rodríguez Rell
an, C., 2008. Gesti
on del cuarzo y la pizarra en
el Calcolítico peninsular: el santuario de El Pedroso (Trabazos de Aliste,
Zamora). Trabajos de Prehistoria 65 (1), 125e142.
A. Morgado et al. / Quaternary International xxx (2015) 1e1816
Please cite this article in press as: Morgado, A., et al., The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia: Technical skill and distinguished
objects from Valencina de la Concepci
on (Seville, Spain), Quaternary International (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.004
Fern
andez Flores, A., Aycar Luengo, V., 2013. Montelirio: Un sepulcro clave para la
comprensi
on del registro de los grandes monumentos megalíticos de Valencina
de la Concepci
on-Castilleja de Guzm
an (Sevilla). In: García Sanju
an, L., Vargas
Jim
enez, J.M., Hurtado P
erez, V., Ruiz Moreno, T., Cruz-Au
~
n
on Briones, R. (Eds.),
El Asentamiento Prehist
orico de Valencina de la Concepci
on (Sevilla): Inves-
tigaci
on y Tutela en el 150 Aniversario del Descubrimiento de La Pastora. Uni-
versidad de Sevilla, Sevilla, pp. 233e260.
Fern
andez Ruiz, J., M
arquez Romero, J.E., 2004. Avance al estudio del sepulcro
megalítico de la Cuesta de los Almendrillos de Ardite, Alozaina (M
alaga). In:
Actas de los II-III Simposios de Prehistoria Cueva de Nerja. Fundaci
on Cueva de
Nerja, M
alaga, pp. 281e289.
Fontanals-Coll, M., Díaz-Zorita Bonilla, M., Subir
a, M., 2015. A palaeodietary study of
stable isotope analysis from a high-status burial in the Copper Age: the Mon-
telirio megalithic structure at Valencina de la Concepci
on-Castilleja de Guzm
an,
Spain. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology (On Line versi
on).
Forenbaher, S., 1999. Production and Exchange of Bifacial Flaked Stone Artifacts
during the Portuguese Chalcolithic. British Archaeological Reports. In: Inter-
national Series 756. Archaeopress, Oxford.
Forteza Gonz
alez, M., García Sanju
an, L., Hern
andez Arnedo, M.J., Salguero Palma, J.,
Wheatley, D., 2008. El cuarzo como material votivo y arquitect
onico en el
complejo funerario megalítico de Palacio III (Almad
en de la Plata, Sevilla):
an
alisis contextual y mineral
ogico. Trabajos de Prehistoria 65 (2), 135e150.
Freidel, D., 1998. Sacred work: dedication and termination in Mesoamerica. In:
Boteler Mock, S. (Ed.), The Sowing and the Dawning: Termination, Dedication,
and Transformation in the Archaeological and Ethnographic Record of Meso-
america. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, pp. 189e193.
Gallay, A., 2010. Une approche anthropologique de la notion de bien de prestige.
Bulletin d'
Etudes Pr
ehistoriques et Arch
eologiques Alpines (Aoste) 21. In: Actes
du 12
eme Colloque sur les Alpes dans l'Antiquit
e (Yenne, Savoie, 2e4 octobre
2009), pp. 29e44.
Gallego, M., 1992. Las mineralizaciones de litio asociadas al magmatismo
acido en
Extremadura y su encuadre en la Zona Centroib
erica. Tesis Doctoral. Uni-
versidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid.
García Sanju
an, L., 2013. El asentamiento de la Edad del Cobre de Valencina de la
Concepci
on: estado actual de la investigaci
on, debates y perspectivas.<