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Abstract

The cave site of Gruta da Oliveira is located in the Almonda karst system, at the interface between the Central Limestone Massif of Portuguese Estremadura (CLM) and the adjacent Sedimentary Basin of the River Tagus (TSB). The cave presents a stratification dated to ~37-107 ka containing hearth features, Neanderthal skeletal remains, as well as fauna, microfauna and wood charcoal remains. The lithic assemblages are large and feature a diverse range of raw materials. Knappable lithic raw materials in primary, sub-primary and secondary position in the CLM and the TSB were systematically surveyed and sampled. The characterization of the geological samples was carried out at both the macro- and the microscopic scales and data were systematized under the petroarcheological and “evolutionary chain of silica” approaches. The study of the lithic assemblage from layer 14 (dated to the ~61-93 ka 95.4% probability interval by TL) indicates that the Gruta da Oliveira Neanderthals used quartzite, quartz and flint from sources located less than 30 km away in both the CLM and the TSB.
Journal of Lithic Studies (2016) vol. 3, nr. 2, p. xx-xx doi:10.2218/jls.v3i2.1452
Published by the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
ISSN: 2055-0472. URL: http://journals.ed.ac.uk/lithicstudies/
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Raw material sourcing in the Middle Paleolithic site of
Gruta da Oliveira (Central Limestone Massif,
Estremadura, Portugal)
Henrique Matias
UNIARQ, Centro de Arqueologia Universidade de Lisboa, School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon.
Alameda da Universidade, 1600-214 Lisboa, Portugal. Email: hamatias@gmail.com
Abstract:
The cave site of Gruta da Oliveira is located in the Almonda karst system, at the interface
between the Central Limestone Massif of Portuguese Estremadura (CLM) and the adjacent
Sedimentary Basin of the River Tagus (TSB). The cave presents a stratification dated to ~37-107 ka
containing hearth features, Neanderthal skeletal remains, as well as fauna, microfauna and wood
charcoal remains. The lithic assemblages are large and feature a diverse range of raw materials.
Knappable lithic raw materials in primary, sub-primary and secondary position in the CLM and
the TSB were systematically surveyed and sampled. The characterization of the geological samples
was carried out at both the macro- and the microscopic scales and data were systematized under the
petroarcheological and “evolutionary chain of silica” approaches.
The study of the lithic assemblage from layer 14 (dated to the ~61-93 ka 95.4% probability
interval by TL) indicates that the Gruta da Oliveira Neanderthals used quartzite, quartz and flint from
sources located less than 30 km away in both the CLM and the TSB.
Keywords: Almonda karst system; Gruta da Oliveira; Middle Paleolithic; Neanderthals;
petroarcheology; flint
1. Introduction
The Almonda karst system, an extensive network of cavities associated with the spring of
the River Almonda, is located in the Meso-Cenozoic Western Border (MCWB) of Iberia, at
the boundary between the Central Limestone Massif (CLM) and the Tagus Sedimentary Basin
(TSB). Among those of archeological interest, the lowermost passages, 5-15 m above the
current spring, contain deposits of Upper Paleolithic and later prehistoric age (Almeida et al.
2004; Angelucci & Zilhão 2009; Zilhão 1997) (Figure 1). Higher up in a 70 m escarpment,
the labyrinth of passages features several collapsed cave entrances, two of which have been
cleared for archeological excavation, ongoing since 1991.
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Figure 1. The location of Gruta da Oliveira (top), schematic cross-section of the Almonda escarpment showing
the position of the main archeological sites (center), and a selection of stone tools from Gruta da Oliveira (base):
a. Levallois core, layer 20; b. Denticulate sidescraper, layer 26; c. Sidescraper, layer 26; d. Levallois blade, layer
20; e. Denticulate, layer 14; f. Levallois flake, layer 19; g. Levallois core, layer 13; h. Denticulate, layer 26; i.
Pyramidal core, layer 10; j. hachereau, layer 20; k. Truncated bladelet, layer 14; a.-f. and k., flint; g. -j.,
quartzite. (Photos b. to k. by João Zilhão; Photos a., j. and k. by José Paulo Ruas (after Hoffmann et al. 2013;
Zilhão et al. 2013)).
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At the top of the escarpment, the Gruta da Aroeira, excavated between 1997 and 2002
and anew since 2013, features an Acheulian breccia dated to >420 ka that yielded an industry
with handaxes and other bifacial items (Hoffmann et al. 2013; Marks et al. 2002). Lower
down, the Middle Paleolithic site of Gruta da Oliveira preserved a ~13 m-thick sequence of
stratified Mousterian occupations dated by U-series, Thermoluminescence and Radiocarbon
to between ~37,000 and ~107,000 years ago (Angelucci & Zilhão 2009; Hoffmann et al.
2013; Richter et al. 2014). Neanderthal osteological remains were found in several levels of
the Oliveira sequence, which also yielded lithic and faunal remains allowing the identification
of activity areas (knapping and food processing) organized around fireplaces; the lithic
assemblages feature Levallois and Kombewa reduction methods alongside the production of
elongated, Upper Paleolithic-type blanks (Figure 1 - i. and k.) (Marks et al. 2001; Zilhão et al.
2013).
The main goal of this study was to determine the lithic raw material sources exploited in
order to reconstruct the regional Neanderthals’ territoriality and subsistence strategies. For
this purpose, a reference collection of raw material sources (Figure 2) was compared with a
sample of stone tools from layer 14 (dated to the ~61-93 ka 95.4% probability interval by
TL), used as a case study.
1.1. Historical background
Interest in lithic raw material sources is documented since the 19th century, but it was not
until the 1970’s and 1980’s that Petroarcheology became established as an autonomous
discipline with a well-defined methodological frame (Mangado Llach 2002). Annie Masson
(1979; 1981) proposed a methodology for macro- and microscopic analyses of silicifications,
while Jean-Michel Geneste (1985) correlated sourcing data with lithic technology for the
Mousterian of southwestern France, introducing a spatial dimension in lithic technology
studies (Geneste 1991).
In Portugal, mobility and raw material procurement where first addressed in early 1990s,
in the context of a study of the Upper Paleolithic of the Rio Maior basin. This preliminary
work used macroscopic data and only considered the Upper Cenomanian flints occurring in
the siliciclastic formations of the TSB, where archeological sites are located less than 5 km
from such flint sources (Marks et al. 1991). Recent petroarcheological studies have also
included geochemical analyses (Pereira et al. 2016; Shokler 2002).
Systematic surveys aiming at the identification of raw material sources were carried out
in the Côa Valley in the mid-1990’s, in the wake of the discovery of its Paleolithic rock art
and coeval settlement sites (Aubry 2005; Aubry et al. 2012; Aubry & Mangado Llach 2003a;
b; 2006; Aubry et al. 2004; Mangado Llach 2002). Despite their absence in the Hercynian
Massif region and therefore in the Côa, flint and silcrete are systematically present in the
valley’s Upper Paleolithic assemblages, and could be sourced to geological formations
located more than 150 km to East and Southwest, including the CLM and TSB regions
(2003a; b). Using a GIS least-cost algorithm, models of the circulation of these resources and
the size of exploitation territories were proposed as proxies for the social networks that
knitted together the Upper Paleolithic groups living in the different geographical areas
concerned (Aubry et al. 2016; Aubry et al. 2012).
Subsequent studies in southern Portugal include Veríssimo’s (2004; 2005) survey and
macroscopic characterization of Jurassic flint in primary and secondary position in the region
of Vila do Bispo, Burke’s (Bisson et al. 2011; Burke et al. 2011) survey and geochemical
analysis of jasper sources in the context of a study of the Middle Paleolithic in western
Alentejo, and Gaspar’s (2009; Gaspar et al. 2009) research on the igneous and metamorphic
rocks used in the Neolithic site of Laginha 8. In the MCWB, Jordão (2010) determined the
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origin of local and regional flints used in the Chalcolithic assemblage of São Mamede, while
Gameiro (2003; 2012; Gameiro et al. 2008) undertook a petrographic characterization of
Magdalenian assemblages in the Sicó massif and the Rio Maior basin, as well as in Lapa dos
Coelhos, a site in the Almonda karst system. In the latter, preliminary results concerning the
Gruta da Oliveira material were reported by Aubry et al. (2014) and Matias (2012).
Figure 2. Detail of the Geological Map of Portugal (1:500.000, resized) (Delfim de Carvalho et al. 1992),
showing the Central Limestone Massif and surrounding area of the Tagus Sedimentary Basin, with location of
the geological samples used in this study.
2. Analytical methods and samples
Considering the concept of chaîne opératoire in its application to knapping (Leroi-
Gourhan 1964), the acquisition of raw materials is logically the first stage of the reduction
sequence (Geneste 1991). Thus, the study of the origin and proportions of the different types
of raw materials present in an archeological stone tool assemblage should be the first step in
its study (Almeida et al. 2003; Tixier et al. 1980).
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Here, available (even though, concerning existent silicifications, their resolution is low),
bibliographic and cartographic data were used to define locations in the TSB and CLM to be
targeted for survey and sample collection. Samples were analyzed macroscopically using a
stereomicroscope (OLYMPUS SZ61 up to x45 with a coupled photographic camera
OLYMPUS SC20), and thin sections were observed under the microscope (CARL ZEISS
Axiophot Pol up to x200 with coupled photographic camera Sony DXF-S500).
Flint and other silicifications (e.g., silcrete) were typed according to geological origin,
paleoenvironment of formation (Bressy 2003; Séronie-Vivien & Séronie-Vivien 1987) and
the evolutionary chain of silica” concept proposed by Fernandes & Raynal (2006; Fernandes
et al. 2008), adapted by Aubry et al. (2012). Sedimentary rocks, like flint, preserve features
resulting from complex physico-chemical and mechanical processes related to their deposition
environment, making it possible to classify them according to specific genetic and
stratigraphic position, paleogeographic environment and aspects of their post-genetic history
relating to the present location of the source (Fernandes & Raynal 2006).
Macroscopical analysis under the binocular stereoscope considered color and its
distribution, transparency, grain size, texture (after Dunham 1962), sedimentary structures,
skeletal and other bioclastic elements, porosity and non-skeletal elements, surface condition,
weathering, cortex type, degree of cortex rounding, and knapping quality. Thin sections
observed under the microscope focused on mineralogy and crystallization; the siliceous
components, their crystal type and size, as well as their diagenetic and post-diagenetic phases
of silicification were described alongside the non-siliceous and detrital components. These
data are summarized in Table 1.
The same approach, bar microscopic analysis, which could not be carried out in this
initial stage of the Gruta da Oliveira research, was applied to the archeological material. Layer
14 was selected due to its high level of stratigraphic integrity, attested by the presence of a
fireplace and associated lithic and bone scatters (Angelucci & Zilhão 2009; Nabais 2011;
Zilhão et al. 2010; Zilhão et al. 2013). The analyzed sample comprises 3071 lithic artifacts
(out of the layer’s total of ~7700) retrieved within an area of 6m2 (grid units L21, M19, M20,
N19, O19, P16 and P19) (Table 2). The Levallois, Kombewa and discoidal methods are
represented among both flint and quartzite. The most frequent tools are notches, followed by
denticulates, retouched flakes and blades, and sidescrapers.
The flint from the cave presents a significant level of weathering. Desiliconization
(Bressy 2003) or flint necrosis (Vignard & Vacher 1964) is present. When broken, flints with
this type of weathering show a whitish powder core with no structure or consistency and a
hard, external, ~1 mm-thick shell preserving some diagnostic elements (texture, structure
fossils, etc.) but lacking others (color and translucency). This “necrosis” has been related to
the dissolution and neogenesis of silicon in alkaline environments with water circulation,
characteristic of cave sites (Masson 1981). Different degrees of weathering are often observed
across different areas of the site, within the same stratigraphic unit, and such differences are
therefore devoid of chronological meaning (Rottlander 1975).
Despite these weathering problems, the lithic assemblage from layer 14 preserved
enough of the structure, texture and other recognizable and distinctive features of the raw
materials. Comparison with the geological samples and, hence, identification of the flint
sources used, was therefore possible.
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Table 1. Silicification types from CLM and TSB. (a) Types are named after geologic map codes followed by a sequential number. (b) 0 (In situ outcrops), 1 (sub-primary
outcrops), 2 (colluvial occurrence), 3 (recent river deposits), 4 (old alluvial deposits). (c) BRE (brechoidal), LAM (lamination), LCR (liesegang concentric rings), MLR
(multiple liesegang rings), PER (peloidal relict). (d) CNG (conglomerate), GRN (grainstone), MUD (mudstone), PAC (packstone), SAN (sandstone), WAC (wackstone). (e)
CAL (undetermined chalcedony), CAL-LF (chalcedony length-fast), CAL-LS (chalcedony length-slow), CQ (criptoquartz), mQ-CQ (microquartz-cryptoquartz), DOL
(dolomite), MQ (macroquartz), mQ (microquarzt), Q (alpha-quartz). (f) BIV (bivalve), CHA-O (Charophyta gyrogonite), CHA-S (Charophyta stem), ESP-M (monoaxone
spicule), ESP-T (triaxone spicule), FRAG-IND (Undetermined fragment). FOR (foraminifer), GAS (gastropod), INS (insertae sedis), OST (ostracod). (g) CaCO3 (calcite),
FEN (fenestral porosity), INT (intraclast), MO (organic material), MOL (moldic porosity), MOS (moscovite) OF (iron oxide), OOI (ooid), PEL (pellet), PEO (peloid), Q-TER
(terrigeneous quartz). (h) CONT (continental), CONT-AL (alluvial), CONT-LAC (lacustrine), MAR (marine). (p) = possible.
Genetic
type (a)
Gitologic
type(b)
Sample
locality
Sedimentary
structure (c)
Mineralogy (e)
Skeletal grain,
bioclasts(f)
Porosity and non-
skeletal (g)
Formation
environment (h)
J2-2a
0
OUR5
LCR, PER
mQ-CQ(70%), MQ, CAL-LF(10%)
ESP-M, FOR, GAS(p),
INS
FEN, MOL, OF, CaCO
3
,
MAR
J2-2b
0
OUR6
PER
mQ-CQ(65%), mQ(5%),
CAL-LF(10%)
ESP-M(p), ESP-T, GAS,
CHA-S, INS(p)
FEN, PEO, OF, CaCO
3
,
MO(p)
J2-3
1
OUR7,
OUR8
MLR, PER
mQ-CQ(75%), mQ(5%),
CAL-LF(5%)
ESP-M(p), GAS, OST,
FRAG-IND
FEN, MOL, OF, CaCO
3
,
MO(p)
J3-1
0
FZ1
LCR
mQ-CQ(90%),
MQ(<5%),CAL-LF(<5%)
OF, CaCO
3
CONT-LAC or
MAR
4
FZ4
LAM
mQ-CQ(90%), MQ, CAL-LF
CHA-O, CHA-S(p)
OF
J3-2
0
TN5
LAM, PER
mQ-CQ(70%), CAL-LF(5%)
GAS, OST(p),
CHA-S(p), FRAG-IND
MOL, OF, CaCO
3
, DOL
J3-3
0
FZ2, FZ3
NOTS
NOTS
NOTS
NOTS
1, 2, 3
FZ2
PER, BRE,
mQ-CQ(60-90%), MQ(<10%)
GAS, BIV(p), CHA-O,
CHA-S, FRAG-IND
FEN, MOL, OF, PEO, INT,
Q-TER, MO(p), CaCO3
FZ3
LAM
CAL-LF(<10%)
4
FZ4
mQ-CQ (85%), MQ, CAL-LF (5%)
FRAG-IND
OF, PEO
J3-4
0
ALC1
PER, LCR
mQ-CQ(50%), MQ(5%),
CAL-LF(5%)
ESP-T, FOR(p), GAS,
FRAG-IND
MOL, OF, PEO, Q-TER,
MO, OOI(p), MOS, CaCO3
MAR(p)
C2s-6
4
TN1,
TN2, TN4
LAM, PER(p)
mQ-CQ(90%), MQ(5%), CAL
ESP-M, FOR(p), FRAG-
BIO
FEN, OF
MAR
IND-1
4
TN3, TN4
BRE, LAM
mQ-CQ(40%) MQ(<5%), CAL(10%)
FEN, OF, Q-TER, MOS
CONT
IND-2
1
OUR4
BRE
Cq(10%)
FEN(p), OF, Q-TER
4
OUR3
NOTS
NOTS
NOTS
NOTS
IND-3
4
TN4
PER
mQ-CQ(85%)
CHA-S, GAS
OF, CaCO
3
MAR or CONT-
LAC(p)
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Table 2. Technological categories and raw material types present in the layer 14 sample. For quartz and
quartzite, technological categories are given according to field data.
Technological
category
Flint
Quartz
Quartzite
Rock
crystal
Limestone
Igneous
rock
Lydite
Total
Core
11
46
19
76
Flake
359
576
643
7
8
2
1595
Blade
4
1
1
6
Bladelet
7
1
8
Chip
218
718
361
3
1300
Chunk
3
8
5
2
18
Retouched tool
29
8
9
46
Cobble
9
13
22
Total
631
1366
1052
3
9
8
2
3071
3. Results
Based on their color, mineralogy, sedimentary structure and fossil content, two categories
of flint could be identified in the sources located at the boundary between the Bajocian and
Bathonian (J2-2, J2-3), and four in sources located in the Oxfordian (J3-1 to J3-4). The
structure, texture, mineralogy and constituents of these flints are variable; often, such
variation can be observed within a single nodule.
Cretaceous flint (C2s) and silcrete (Ind-1, 2) were found exclusively in siliciclastic
deposits of the TSB.
3.1. Middle Jurassic flint (Bajocian)
Two types of Upper Bajocian flint were identified (J2-2, J2-3). They can be easily
differentiated by color, sedimentary structure and crystallization. Frequently they have a
botryoidal cortex with impregnation of iron oxides. Liesegang-type structures, peloidal relicts
and a bioclastic content are frequent. In the J2-2 type, the presence of numerous tectonic
joints filled and recrystallized with iron oxides and micro-crystalline quartz allows the
identification of regional variants. (Figure 3.)
3.2. Upper Jurassic flint (Oxfordian)
Four types of Oxfordian flint (J3-1 to J3-4), representing variation along the East-West
axis of the CLM, could be identified. These flints are heterogeneous in structure, texture,
mineralogy and constituents, often with such variation being visible in a single nodule. J3-1
and J3-3 (Figures 4 and 5) co-occur in the East, and it was not possible to determine if they
were formed together or originate in different strata. J3-2 (Figure 6) and J3-4 (Figure 7) have
the same “spotted” macroscopic aspect but distinct constituents; the first shows
dolomitization associated with a silicification of the matrix, while the second contains detrital
elements and distinctive skeletal remains.
3.3. Late Cretaceous flint (Upper Cenomanian) and Cenozoic silcrete
Cretaceous flint (C2s) and Cenozoic silcrete (ind-1,2) were found exclusively in the TSB,
where they occur alongside the quartz, quartzite and lydite cobbles and sands making up the
basin’s Lower Miocene siliciclastic deposits. Their secondary position is further supported by
a clear rounded cortex with macroscopic impact marks caused by fluvial transport. Often,
these Cretaceous flints are translucent and contain geodes with macroquartz crystals growth;
they grade in color (from yellow to red and grey) but, mineralogically, are very homogeneous,
frequently with rare or almost unnoticeable skeletal remains. Iron oxides concentrations are
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also frequent in the siliceous matrix (Figure 8). Cenozoic silcretes have a brecciated structure
associated with lamination, frequently contain detrital quartz, and include no skeletal remains
(Figure 9). The correspondence of the Late Cenomanian flint to this specific geological stage
has been made by comparison with studies made in other localities (e.g., unit H of the Nazaré
section (Callapez 1998)).
Figure 3. Bajocian flint´s macro and microscopic textures and constituents: 1. Liesegang concentric rings (scale
bar = 2 mm); 2. General texture (scale bar = 500 µm); 3. Diaclase cemented by iron oxides and porosity filled by
first and second generation micro and macro quartz (scale bar = 1 mm); 4. Triaxonic spicule recrystallized by
micro-quartz (scale bar = 1 mm).
Figure 4. Oxfordian flints’ macro and microscopic textures and constituents; Type J3-2: 1. General texture
(mudstone) (scale bar = 500 µm); 2. Spar calcite undergoing silicification at the contact between the silica matrix
and the limestone (scale bar = 800 µm).
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Figure 5. Oxfordian flints’ macro and microscopic textures and constituents; Genetic Type J3-3: 1., 3., 5.
General heterogenic textures (mudstone to grainstone) (scale bar = 2 mm); 2. Brecciated sedimentary structure
(scale bar = 1 mm); 4 Laminated sedimentary structure (scale bar = 1 mm); 5. Charophyta stem (scale bar = 1
mm).
Figure 6. Oxfordian flints’ macro and microscopic textures and constituents; Genetic Type J3-2: 1. General
texture (scale bar = 500 µm); 2. Dolomite or calcite rhombohedra undergoing silicification (scale bar = 200 µm).
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Figure 7. Oxfordian flints’ macro and microscopic textures and constituents; Genetic Type J3-2: 1. General
texture (scale bar = 500 µm); 2. Detrital quartz embedded in the siliceous matrix (scale bar = 200 µm).
Figure 8. Macro- and microscopic textures and constituents of Cretaceous flints. Note the mudstone texture (1, 2)
and bioclastic relicts (3, 4). (Scale bars: 1. 2 mm; 2. 500 µm; 3. 1 mm; 4. 500 µm.)
4. Discussion and conclusions
As the Almonda karst system is located at the boundary between the CLM and the TSB,
the raw materials used by the Gruta da Oliveira Neanderthals reflect their natural availability
within these two different structural units.
In the CLM, in situ and sub-primary Middle and Late Jurassic flint sources are found in
geographically restricted outcrops or deposits, while the Miocene plains of the Tagus Basin
feature widespread Cenozoic and Quaternary siliciclastic deposits with quartzite, quartz,
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lydite, silcrete and Cretaceous flints. The latter are spread over a large area to the SW, S, SE,
E and NE, of the cave (although Cretaceous flints and silcrete only occur more than 10 km to
SW). Therefore, only the Late and Middle Jurassic flint sources found to NE and W provide
spatially precise indications of the Oliveira Neanderthals’ mobility.
Figure 9. Macro- and microscopic textures and constituents of Cenozoic silcretes. Note the brecciated structure
(1-3) and detrital materials (2, 4).
Quartzite, lydite and quartz were collected and introduced in the cave as cobbles,
boulders or large flakes, the latter probably produced at or close to the source. These rocks are
widely distributed across hundreds of km of the TSB (Figure 10) and are abundantly available
in the nearby TSB siliciclastic deposits. However, a fine-grained quartzite was preferentially
selected for Levallois reduction, due to its homogeneity and excellent knapping qualities.
Although it can be occasionally found across the Tagus basin, larger concentrations of this
green- or red-colored quartzite were found in versant deposits located less than 5 km NE of
the Gruta da Oliveira, implying that this raw material was probably locally collected.
Elsewhere in the Almonda karst system, this fine-grained quartzite is rare or found in low
proportions. The same applies to the other Paleolithic localities known in the TSB, where it is
often altogether absent (as is the case, for example, in the Upper Paleolithic sites of the Rio
Maior basin). The available data are not enough for a firm conclusion, but it seems likely that
this particular type of fine quartzite can be used as a marker for the regional Middle
Paleolithic.
Concerning flint, the Cretaceous type (C2s), the most affected by weathering, represents
more than 50% of the Oliveira sample, while Cenozoic silcretes (Ind) are rare (~1%), which
can be explained by their geological scarcity in the siliciclastic deposits of the TSB. Both
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types of Middle Jurassic flint (J2-2 and J2-3) are present, but only one (J3-3) of the Late
Jurassic flint types could be recognized (Figure 11 and 12).
Figure 10. Regional raw material sources, and raw material percentages in layer 14 of Gruta da Oliveira. In the
overall pie chart, the othercategory includes limestone, rock crystal, lydite, and igneous rocks.
Using ethnographic data (Binford 1980), the presence in Oliveira of raw materials
coming from sources less than 20 km can be interpreted as direct exploitation of the sources.
As is the case with the evidence from the species represented among faunal remains (Zilhão et
al. 2013), the lithic raw material data indicate an exploitation of both the highlands of the
CLM and the plains of the TSB and are therefore consistent with procurement having been
embedded in daily subsistence activities (Binford 1979).
Sixty-two percent of the Oliveira sample’s flint comes from the TSB, which can be
related to the excellent knapping quality of its Cretaceous flint, abundantly represented in all
prehistoric sites of the TSB but also found more than 150 km away in the Upper Paleolithic
sites of the Côa Valley (Aubry 2005; Aubry et al. 2016; Aubry et al. 2012; Aubry &
Mangado Llach 2003a; b; 2006; Aubry et al. 2004; Aubry et al. 2014; Mangado Llach 2002).
Such a high percentage probably reflects long-term residence in the Tagus plains, with Gruta
da Oliveira being used as a temporary camp where the good quality flint, brought from
elsewhere, was eventually discarded, and local (<5 km) medium to poor quality Bajocian flint
(12%) was used occasionally. Given the location of currently known sources, the significant
percentage of Oxfordian flint (24%) could reflect some degree of seasonality within a large
territory united by the natural corridor provided by the Nabão river valley, which, during the
Upper Paleolithic (Aubry et al. 2012; Gameiro et al. 2008), linked the inhabitants of the CLM
with those of the Sicó Massif to the North. Alternatively, it is also possible that groups
primarily based in the CLM alternated use of the Gruta da Oliveira with groups primarily
H. Matias 13
Journal of Lithic Studies (2016) vol. 3, nr. 2, p. xx-xx doi:10.2218/jls.v3i2.1452
based in the TSB. The low percentage of cortex found on Oxfordian flint items (~13%; 35-
40% in the other types) at least suggests that this raw material was processed differently,
namely that it was brought in as pre-configured cores.
Figure 11. Flint’s distinctive features in the archeological sample: a. Bajocian flint. The iron filled diaclases
pointed by arrow 1, and the concentric liesegang rings by arrow 2 are typical characteristics of flint type J2-2a
(compare with Figure 3); b. botryoidal cortex of J2-3 type (Bajocian); c. and d. heterogenic “spotted like” texture
of Oxfordian J3-3 type (compare with Figure 5, with a gastropod relict pointed by arrow 3; e. Upper
Cenomanian flint with the siliceous reddish matrix turning rose and arrows pointing to a macroquartz filled
geode (arrow 4) and a concentration of iron oxides (arrow 5) (compare with Figure 8); f. typical Upper
Cenomanian flint in secondary position with rounded cortex impregnated by iron oxides (arrow 6). (Photos a., b.
and f. by João Zilhão, b. to e. by José Paulo Ruas.)
The broader significance of these preliminary results and inferences requires a diachronic
study of the lithic assemblages from Gruta da Oliveira and their comparison with other
Middle Paleolithic sites, namely Gruta Nova da Columbeira, located 55 km to the SW, Gruta
do Caldeirão, 25 km to the NE, close to the Nabão basin’s sources of J3-3 flint, and Buraca
Escura located in the Sicó Massif, where the Oxfordian flint from the Nabão river is also
present (Thierry Aubry, personal communication). Such study and comparisons are the object
of ongoing research.
14 H. Matias
Journal of Lithic Studies (2016) vol. 3, nr. 2, p. xx-xx doi:10.2218/jls.v3i2.1452
Figure 12. The flint and silcrete types recognized among the geological samples and their representation in layer
14 of Gruta da Oliveira. The cross means not present. Single image scale: 1 cm². (Photos by José Paulo Ruas.)
Acknowledgements
This study is a contribution to the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia’s project
PTDC/HIS-ARQ/098164/2008 (“Middle Paleolithic Archaeology of the Almonda Karst
H. Matias 15
Journal of Lithic Studies (2016) vol. 3, nr. 2, p. xx-xx doi:10.2218/jls.v3i2.1452
System”), directed by João Zilhão, that led to a M.Sc. dissertation in Geoarcheology at the
Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon; and to the Ph.D. Scholarship
SFRH/BD/108396/2015, also funded by FCT. It would not be possible without the advice of
Thierry Aubry, João Zilhão, and Xavier Mangado. Thank you for the knowledge shared and
the friendship.
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... The local focus of Middle Palaeolithic procurement combined with the tendency of Neanderthals to locate sites close to suitable raw material deposits means that it is common for their lithic assemblages to reflect the geological composition of the nearby environment, including primary and secondary deposits (Garralda et al. 2014;Matias 2016;Santagata et al. 2017). There is also widespread evidence that Neanderthal groups used diverse types of raw materials, for example andesite, obsidian, quartz, quartzite, radiolarite and siliceous sandstone (Aubry et al. 2015;Doronicheva et al. 2016;Garefalakis et al. 2018). ...
... It is generally accepted that assemblages found at short term or site specific temporary camps contained transported raw material often as part of a mobile tool kit, this material may be of higher quality than the local lithologies. In these situations the use of supplementary rocks from nearby the site is common, which is used in an opportunistic, low investment, manner whilst in the area Matias 2016). This suggests that during short term occupations an efficient model of procurement was used where quality material was brought with individuals and activities were supported by the use of other forms of suitable rock allowing focus to be attributed to tasks or activities rather than locating flint in the surrounding landscape. ...
... Evidence suggests that it was a relatively short term occupation with considerably fewer lithic artefacts than the other layers studied (Table 17). This is also supported by the intensive use of local non-flint raw material, which has been observed at other short term Neanderthal occupations and is purported to show a low investment in mapping the lithic landscape Matias 2016; Chapter 3, Section 3.7 -3.7.1). However, there is a relatively high proportion of flint found in this layer that does not possess features indicating an allochthonous origin; this is also seen by the rarity of the high Ca coastal source common to Layer E. Shaw et al. (2016) also noted that from technological perspective this layer has a considerable instance of formal tools that may have been part of a mobile toolkit (Chapter 3, Section 3.5.1 and Section 3.7.3). ...
Conference Paper
Flint is a raw material that has been used by humans for millennia and lithic artefacts are ubiquitous throughout the hominin record. Their significance is not limited to form and function but how and where raw material was collected from. Reconstructing these pathways in the landscape brings a human perspective to the deep past, shedding light not just on the areas moved through but also economic and organisational choices. This thesis is concerned with understanding how Neanderthal populations made stone procurement decisions in the La Manche region, specifically the Normano-Breton Gulf, which is located between Brittany and Normandy. This area was occupied repeatedly by Neanderthals during the Middle Pleistocene but is now mostly submerged due to Holocene sea levels. The archaeological material studied is from La Cotte de St. Brelade a site where preserved deposits provide a record of hominin behaviour from 238-40 thousand years (kya). This site was chosen due to its central location within the research context and the potential provided by the lithic record, which amounts to more than c. 95,000 stone artefacts. This thesis employs a lithic sourcing framework to propose changes in the raw material acquired by Neanderthals and concludes that differences in climate and environment affected the presence and absence of certain types of flint through time. It achieves this by the study of c.500 lithic artefacts from three archaeological layers, Layer E, A and 5, using a combination of macroscopic, technological and geochemical analysis. The results indicate the presence of a specific geochemical and macroscopic flint type dominant in Layer E, a temperate occupation, which becomes less frequent as sea level falls during cooler Layer A and 5. There is also evidence of flint with a different visual and elemental profile that is more common in Layer 5. This implies that Neanderthals at the site used several types of flint, and access was likely affected by the changing environments of the Continental Shelf. The overall conclusions are important for understanding more about hominin behaviour in the La Manche area, although they are limited as modern geological survey was impossible and artefacts could not be compared directly to sources. In this way the study is unusual as it adopts an artefact-centric methodology where patterns in the data collected are used to infer flint types. Due to this artefact-centric nature a large lithic assemblage was analysed, this required the use of non-destructive portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF), which has clear advantages as it does not damage lithics and is portable. The geochemical data generated successfully permitted the identification of trends in flint use, however employing pXRF to analyse flint is still in development. Therefore steps were taken to optimise the analytical process, for example a bespoke calibration was used to improve the accuracy of the results. Concerns were also encountered regarding flint as it’s geochemistry is not well understood and a geological case study was performed in order to establish data for 40 elements using ICP-MS, an accurate and precise technique. This process revealed that the Upper Cretaceous flint outcrops sampled did possess unique chemical signatures and provided an important comparison with the pXRF data. Overall this thesis combines archaeological and scientific data to provide new information about how Neanderthals were procuring raw material in this challenging context whilst also considering the technical and theoretical questions raised when provenancing flint.
... These characteristics are typical of the Cenomanian silicifications (Cretaceous) of the Portuguese Estremadura, where flint can be found in secondary position on Miocenic deposits (cf. Aubry et al., 2014;Matias, 2016). Thus, it is possible (according to certain particular features) to recognize flints from the Estremadura Limestone Massif and adjacent drainage basins, namely from Azinheira or Amieira-Arruda dos Pisões (Rio Maior) and Caxarias or Pederneira (Ourém) -the latter not so well represented and mainly used in the production of blades and some few geometric armatures. ...
... Only two elements, two blades collected in the dolmens of Talha 2 and Outeirões 3, seem to correspond to Oxfordian flint (Jurassic) from Tomar area (respectively Agroal and Sabacheira; cf. Aubry et al., 2014;Matias, 2016); however, given the intense thermic changes presented by the blade of Talha 2, it is not possible to defend this hypothesis with certainty without more detailed analyses. However, this classification is obvious in the case of the blade from Outeirões 3, even if based only on a macroscopic evaluation. ...
... It presents some petrographic features apparently similar to those from Oxfordian contexts -however, it does not match exactly to any of the silicifications with this geological age recognized so far in Western Iberia (cf. Aubry et al., 2014;Matias, 2016). Therefore, its precise source must still be defined. ...
Chapter
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This paper presents some preliminary readings about the procurement of raw materials for the production of votive artefacts by the megalithic communities in the area of Ribeira da Seda (North Alentejo, Portugal). A macroscopic analysis of the artefacts collected in megalithic monuments in the study area (pottery, flaked stone artefacts, polished stone artefacts, votive plaques, adornment elements, metallic artefacts, ground stone artefacts) allowed to evidence a relative diversity of the used materials – most of which, in percentage terms, corresponds to locally or regionally available raw materials, in the Ossa-Morena Meta-Volcanic Zone, reflecting the optimized management of abiotic resources. Extra regional raw materials, such as flint, have statistically lower values when comparing only the types of raw material, independently of the artefacts category and number; however, if we compare the number of artefacts per se, we note a marked weight of exogenous materials (for flaked stone artefacts, for instance, nearly 2/3 are produced on flint). This shows a constant procurement of this raw material, which is also associated with the presence of exotic materials (such as amber and ivory), framing the area of Ribeira da Seda in the wide interaction diagrams of the megalithic communities of the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE in Southwestern Iberia.
... with a coupled photographic camera Olympus SC30), and geological samples were observed under the stereomicroscope and a petrographic microscope (CARL ZEISS Axiophot Pol up to 200× with coupled photographic camera Sony DXF-S500). Details of the data and methodology used for the analyses of the geological flint and other silicifications collected in the vicinity of the cave have been published elsewhere (Aubry et al., 2016(Aubry et al., , 2014(Aubry et al., , 2012Matias, 2012Matias, , 2016. Macroscopic, non-destructive analyses considered the main distinguishing elements, including texture (Dunham, 1962), sedimentary structures, skeletal and other bioclastic elements, porosity and non-skeletal elements, weathering, cortex type, degree of cortex rounding, and knapping quality. ...
... Even though geode formations are frequent in Cenomanian flints, no relevant imperfections were observed in our sample. Four types of flint have been identified in the vicinity of the Almonda system (Aubry et al., 2014;Matias, 2012Matias, , 2016 (Fig. 2). Bajocian (Jurassic) formations < 5 km from the cave contain medium-to-good quality flints in primary and sub-primary positions. ...
... The Gruta da Aroeira assemblage features a level of raw material diversity comparable to that seen in the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic sites of the Almonda karst system (Aubry et al., 2016(Aubry et al., , 2014Gameiro et al., 2008;Matias, 2016). This diversity mirrors the petrographic composition of the siliciclastic deposits of the Tagus basin, from where raw material was procured, as clearly illustrated by the well-rounded cortex surfaces associated with an epigenetic mineralization attributable to the basin's iron-rich soils (Fig. 3.2). ...
Article
Bifaces dominate the Acheulean stone tools recovered during the archaeological excavation of layer X of Gruta da Aroeira, dated to 389–436 ka. Faunal remains and a human cranium were found in association with this lithic assemblage. The raw materials used are mostly quartz and quartzite cobbles available in the vicinity of the site. Technological and systematic analysis shows that there are no Levallois elements and suggests that on-site knapping consisted of the reduction of centripetal cores. Flake cleavers are absent. Use-wear analysis indicates the processing of hard materials, mainly wood. Gruta da Aroeira represents one of the few Middle Pleistocene sites that provide securely dated diagnostic human remains and associated Acheulean lithics, thus representing a major step forward in our understanding of the variability of westernmost Europe's Acheulean and of the human populations that made it.
... A detailed reconstitution of technological changes that occurred along the GFU 5 sequence is hindered by the fact that disconformities in alluvial processes at Cardina-Salto do Boi have been detected by micromorphology and clay mineralogy (Dimuccio et al., 2019) and evidenced by 3dimensional representation of lithic remains and refitting links (Aubry et al., 2020). Furthermore, the study of Middle Palaeolithic lithic assemblages of Portugal has been developed in regions with local flint sources (Matias, 2016) or adapted to quartzite (Cura and Grimaldi, 2009) and an analytical framework is still missing for the study of quartz for most of the regions (Driscoll, 2010). ...
... Strontium isotope measurements made by Laser-Ablation ICP-MS along the enamel growth axis of a Neanderthal tooth from Gruta da Oliveira (Central Portugal) recovered in Layer 22, compared with Strontium isotopic mapping of the region have revealed systematic but not seasonal movement from six different Sr catchment areas detected in a range of ~30 km of the Cave (Pike et al., 2016). The lithic assemblage of the layer 22 dated from the end of the Greenland Interstadial 23 (90-92 ka) (Zilhão et al., 2021a) has yielded flint dominated Levallois industry made from sources from the nearby Limestone relief and Tagus valley (Matias, 2016) in the geographic range establish by the Strontium study. ...
Article
Hunter-gatherer societies mobility has been interpreted as a dialectical interplay of social and environmental factors. Demography and social network restriction have been pointed out as potential factors for the demise of Neanderthal and to differ them from anatomically modern human. To reconstruct land use and social network we investigate Middle and Upper Palaeolithic lithic remains from an open-air site located in Iberian hinterland, spanning from MIS 5 to 3. In a geological environment with a variety of quartz veins but no available flint or silcrete sources, data reveal common patterns through Neanderthal occupations, and substantial differences interpreted as distinct subsistence strategies and social networks of the two populations.
... Only two elements, two blades collected in the dolmens of Talha 2 and Outeirões 3, seem to correspond to Oxfordian flint (Jurassic) from Tomar area (respectively Agroal and Sabacheira; cf. Aubry et al., 2014;Matias, 2016); however, given the intense thermic changes presented by the blade of Talha 2, it is not possible to defend this hypothesis with certainty without more detailed analyzes. However, this classification is obvious in the case of the blade from Outeirões 3, even if based only on a macroscopic evaluation. ...
... It presents some petrographic features apparently similar to those from Oxfordian contexts -however, it does not match exactly to any of the silicifications with this geological age recognized so far in Western Iberia (cf. Aubry et al., 2014;Matias, 2016). Therefore, its precise source must still be defined. ...
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From matter to essence. Sourcing raw materials for the votive artefacts of the megalithic communities in Ribeira da Seda (North Alentejo, Portugal): a preliminary approach. This paper presents some preliminary readings about the procurement of raw materials for the production of votive artefacts by the megalithic communities in the area of Ribeira da Seda (North Alentejo, Portugal). A macroscopic analysis of the artefacts collected in megalithic monuments in the study area (pottery, flaked stone artefacts, polished stone artefacts, votive plaques, adornment elements, metallic artefacts, ground stone artefacts) allows to evidence a relative diversity of the used materials-most of which, in percentage terms, corresponds to locally or regionally available raw materials, in the Ossa-Morena zone, reflecting the optimized maintenance of abiotic resources. Extra-regional raw materials, such as flint, have statistically lower values when comparing only the types of raw material, independently of the artefacts category and number; however, if we compare the number of artefacts per se, we note a marked weight of exogenous materials (for flaked stone artefacts, for instance, nearly 2/3 are produced on flint). This shows a constant procurement of this raw material, which is also associated with the presence of exotic materials (such as amber and ivory), framing the area of Ribeira da Seda in the wide interaction diagrams of the megalithic communities of the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE in Southwestern Iberia. Este trabalho apresenta algumas leituras preliminares sobre o aprovisionamento de matérias-primas para a produção dos artefactos votivos pelas comunidades megalíticas da área da Ribeira da Seda (Alto Alentejo, Portugal). Uma análise macroscópica dos artefactos recolhidos em monumentos megalíticos da área em estudo (recipientes cerâmicos, artefactos de pedra lascadas, artefactos de pedra polida, placas votivas, elementos de adorno, artefactos metálicos, artefactos de pedra afeiçoada) permite evidenciar uma diversidade relativa dos materiais utilizados-sendo que a maioria, em termos percentuais, corresponde a matérias-primas disponíveis local ou regionalmente na zona de Ossa-Morena, reflectindo a manutenção optimizada dos recursos abióticos. As matérias-primas extra-regionais, como o sílex, têm valores estatisticamente baixos quando se comparam exclusivamente os tipos de matéria-prima, independentemente das categorias e número de artefactos; no entanto, se compararmos o número de artefactos per se, nota-se um peso acentuado das matérias-primas exógenas (nos artefactos de pedra lascada, por exemplo, perto de 2/3 são produzidos em sílex). Evidencia-se assim a procura constante de matérias-primas siliciosas, à qual se associa igualmente a ocorrência de matérias exóticas (como o âmbar e o marfim), incluindo a área da Ribeira da Seda nos amplos esquemas de interacção das comunidades megalíticas dos 4º e 3º milénios a.n.e. no Sudoeste peninsular. ANDRADE, M. A. (in press)-From matter to essence. Sourcing raw materials for the votive artefacts of the megalithic communities in Ribeira da Seda (North Alentejo, Portugal): a preliminary approach. In II International Meeting MEGA-TALKS. Megaliths and Geology: Moving Stones in the Neolithic-MEGAGEO 2015. Redondo.
... For northwest Iberia, the Middle Palaeolithic records are characterized by the use of local raw materials based on the management of xenomorphic quartz, the predominance of expedient, centripetal and discoidal exploitation strategies and the production of small retouched flakes (de Lombera Hermida et al. 2008, 2011Aubry et al. 2016;Vaquero et al. 2018). The Levallois component in these assemblages is very restricted but is particularly associated to those quartzite varieties of better aptitude for knapping (i.e., fine-grained Armorican quartzite) (de Lombera Hermida 2005;Rodríguez-Álvarez et al. 2008;Matias 2016). At a regional level, in relation to the Cantabrian Rim and the Atlantic Façade, these Mousterian occupations stand out for their location in mountain environments at medium-high altitude (reaching 800-1000 m above sea level, Thiébaut et al. 2012;Alcaraz-Castaño et al. 2017;Domingo et al. 2017). ...
Article
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Iberia, a natural cul-de-sac peninsula, plays a major role in the study of the Neanderthals demise and its eventual relationship with the spread of Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) in Europe. The site of Cova Eirós (Galicia, Spain), located in NW Iberia, contains Middle and Upper Palaeolithic levels, based on the cultural remains recovered at the site. No human remains directly associated with those levels were discovered yet. The available radiocarbon dates from the levels 2 (c. 35 ka cal BP, Early Upper Paleolithic) and 3 (c. 41 ka cal BP, Late Middle Paleolithic), point to a late survival of Neanderthal groups in North Iberia and to a relative quick arrival of the AMH, c. 35-36 ka cal BP, with respect to other territories of the Iberian Peninsula. The archaeological record shows clear differences between the Middle and the Upper Palaeolithic occupations, regarding raw-material acquisition, lithic technology and subsistence strategies. The location of Cova Eirós in the westernmost margin of the Cantabrian Rim and in the Atlantic Façade, makes this site a key place to understand the spread of the first AMH and the progressive demise of Neanderthal populations.
... A principal matéria -prima utilizada é o quartzito sob a forma de seixos rolados. que é bastante abundante nos depósitos fluviais quaternários que existem mais a jusante do rio (Manuppella, Zbyszewski e Veiga Ferreira, 1974) apesar de existir sílex, uma rocha de grão fino, com melhores características para talhar, a uma curta distancia da jazida (Matias, 2016) O número de extracções existentes nos núcleos é de 1371 enquanto as lascas são apenas 313. A enorme intensidade de talho nos núcleos pode ser justificada pela ausência de matéria -prima in situ, ela teria de ser transportada, levando os talhadores a esgotarem os suportes ao máximo. ...
Article
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As recentes investigações do Acheulense na península Ibérica identificaram a presença de duas distintas indús-trias. Uma onde os utensílios bifaciais são elaborados configurando seixos rolados e outra onde os suportes predominantes dos utensílios bifaciais são grandes lascas (Acheulense de Grandes Lascas).Neste trabalho compara-se o Acheulense de Grandes Lascas do sítio da Quinta do Cónego com o Acheulen-se “tradicional” da Entrada do Vale da Serra na Gruta da Nascente do Rio Almonda, com o objectivo de perceber até onde vão as diferenças entre estas duas indústrias líticas acheulenses.
... In both cases, chert procurement occurs within a radius of 15e30 km and its main technological system is the ramified Levallois production for Axlor and different production strategies including Levallois, Discoid, Kombewa, Quina and the tranche de saucisson for Amalda (Ríos, 2008;Ríos et al., 2015). The same pattern can be observed for chert at Gruta da Oliveira in Portugal, that becomes a strategic point in a narrow valley with the presence of Levallois and Kombewa production strategies alongside the production of elongated flakes (Matias, 2016). In the Algarve region, with the open-air Table 12 Contingency table with the Chi-square coefficient for each foraging radius of level P. The symbol (þ) means that the expected record is less than the archaeological record and therefore the latter is oversized. ...
Article
This study represents the first integrated approach to the lithic raw materials exploited by the Neanderthals that occupied the Abric Romaní site (NE Iberia). Focusing on chert as the most abundant raw material (>80% of the assemblages), we determine the potential procurement areas and the mobility patterns. Geo-archaeological surveys within a radius of 30 km from the site documented 32 primary locations with silicifications. The chert abundance ratio, a quantitative approach to the raw material availability, together with macroscopic and petrographic analyses, confirm the underexploitation of the local raw materials (<10 km). The main procurement areas are located between 16 km (Sant Martí de Tous chert) and 24 km (Panadella chert), indicating different procurement strategies and mobility patterns. Stone tool assemblages from levels M and Oa fall within a foraging radius, whereas level P, in part, suggests a logistical radius, demonstrating a complex scenario of extensive knowledge and intensive exploitation of the landscape among Neanderthals.
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About the presence of oolitic flint blades and other exogenous lithic raw materials in the Chalcolithic settlement of Outeiro Redondo (Sesimbra, Portugal): interaction during the 3rd millennium BC on Southwestern Iberia. The development of extensive exchange networks during the 3rd millennium BC, established and strengthened by the consolidation of stable archaeo-metallurgical societies, has boosted the long-distance circulation of raw materials and artefacts whose provenance areas are sometimes located more than 200 km away from the site where they were ultimately used – thus being viewed as hyper-regional procurement/acquisition goods. The presence, in Chalcolithic contexts of the Portuguese Estremadura, of exogenous elements such as amber, ivory, variscite, and certain lithic raw materials used in the production of flaked stone and polished stone tools, indicates precisely the extent of these interaction diagrams, with diffusion routes covering vast geographic areas. Within the large and diversified set of the lithic industry from the Chalcolithic fortified settlement of Outeiro Redondo, located in the Western area of Setúbal peninsula (municipality of Sesimbra, Estremadura, Portugal) and occupied for most of the 3rd millennium BC, artefacts (exclusively large blades) were recognized whose macro-petrographic features indicate that they are elements produced using oolitic flint (to which one can associate the presence of other exogenous raw materials, such as rhyolite), mostly integrated in stratigraphic or structural contexts dated from the Middle Chalcolithic local chrono-zone (second half of the 3rd millennium BC). Such presence, coupled with the apparent absence of usable oolitic silicifications on the Jurassic formations of Western Iberia (but widely documented in Southern Spain, between the areas of Malaga and Granada), allows to integrate this site into those schemes of long-distance trade encompassing the whole Southwestern Iberia during the 3rd millennium BCE, as a recipient of items with an “exotic” character – although being debatable their “sumptuous consumption” as “prestige goods”, precisely on the basis of the evidence from Outeiro Redondo, where the elements show intense use-wear marks. Key-words: Chalcolithic, Long-distance trade, Oolitic flint, Outeiro Redondo, Rhyolite, Southwestern Iberia.
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We present the results of the study of lithic raw materials used in Upper Palaeolithic occupations preserved in caves, rockshelters and open-air sites from two different geological environments in Portugal. For the sites located in the Lusitanian Basin, flint or silcrete sources are easily available in close vicinity. The Côa Valley sites, located in the Iberian Massif, are within a geological environment where restricted fine-grained vein quartz and siliceous metamorphic rocks are available, but no flint or silcrete, even though both are present in the archaeological assemblages. Data from the two clusters of sites are compared with a third newly located site in the Lower Vouga valley, at the limit of the Iberian Massif with the Lusitanian Basin, where quartz vein raw material types are locally available and flint is about 40 kilometres distant. This study reveals prehistoric adaptations to these different geological contexts, with shorter networks for the Lusitanian basin sites contrasting with the long distance ones for the Côa Valley, and the Vouga site at an intermediary position. Finally, we propose that lithic raw material supply networks, defined by a GIS least-cost algorithm, could be used as a proxy not only for territoriality in the case of local and regional lithic raw material sources, but also to infer long-distance social networks between different Palaeolithic human groups, created and maintained to promote the access to asymmetrically distributed resources.
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During the Middle Palaeolithic in the south-eastern Massif central and the bordering Rhone Valley, humans collected almost all their raw materials from various secondary outcrop which can be distinguished by the inherent characteristics of the materials. Similar lithic facies are unlikely to be encountered on two or more different natural outcrops and every artefact shows a surface that is well enough preserved to be studied according to a morphoscopic analysis at various magnifications. For all sites, some more remote sources were exploited also. However, most of the supposed exogenous materials, such as some Cretaceous flints identified in the Velay assemblages of Sainte-Anne I and Baume-Vallée for example, come from the heart of the massif where they occur in secondary alluvial deposits. Nevertheless, the extent of the foraging territories as revealed by raw materials sourcing covers a large band of various relief between the western and southern Causses, the Rhône corridor and the northern Limagne and Forez plains and animal species hunted by these groups express an environmental mosaic which fits with the image of landscape given by the raw materials.
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Abstract: Geological studies developed in Portugal since the late of nineteenth century have allowed defining the main sedimentary units of the West Portuguese Meso-Cenozoic Border and their related depositional palaeoenvironments. However, despite the use of some flint layers known from this succession as stratigraphic markers and the occurrence of several forms of vein silica in paragensis with Gold and Uranium mineralisations from the Iberian Hercinian Massif, these rocks have never been systematically inventoried and studied. The study of lithic raw material sources during Prehistory has only been developed recently. These studies still lack a complete reference of the available sources and the establishment of a general characterization methodology. The mineralogical, chemical and physical evolution of flint from the original formation to its discard at the archaeological site must be taken in account, in order to evaluate the frequency of siliceous rocks collected in secondary position from detrital siliciclastic units. This paper presents the main sources of knappable siliceous rocks from Central and Northeast Portugal and three case studies addressing past foragers geographical and social issues. Resumo: Os estudos geológicos desenvolvidos em Portugal desde o último quartel do século XIX permitiram definir as principais unidades sedimentares da Orla Meso-Cenozóica Ocidental Portu-guesa e os paleoambientes deposicionais a elas associados. Todavia, apesar de alguns níveis de sílex desta sucessão serem utilizados como referência estratigráfica e de várias formas de sílica de filão estarem associadas a paragéneses com mineralizações de Urânio e Ouro do Maciço Hespéri-co, estas rochas nunca foram objecto de um inventário e estudo sistemáticos. A determinação das fontes de aprovisionamento em matérias-primas durante a Pré-história tem vindo a ser desenvol-vida apenas nos últimos anos. Estes estudos carecem ainda de um referencial completo das fontes disponíveis e do estabelecimento de uma metodologia generalizada de caracterização. É essencial ter em consideração a evolução mineralógica, química e física do sílex, desde o afloramento até ao seu abandono num solo arqueológico, para identificar e avaliar a frequência da exploração de rochas siliciosas em posição secundária, em unidades siliciclasticas.Neste artigo apresentamos as principais fontes de rochas siliciosas utilizadas para talhe em sítios arqueológicos do Centro e Nor-deste do território português e três estudos de caso, que permitem reconstituir os espaços geográ-ficos explorados e o funcionamento das sociedades do passado.
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MANGADO LLACH, X. (2003) -Interprétation de l'approvisionnement en matières premières siliceuses sur les sites du Paléolithique supérieur de la vallée du Côa (Portugal). In Les matières premières lithiques en Préhistoire (table ronde internationale organisée à Aurillac, Cantal, du 20 au 22 juin 2002). Carcassonne: Association Préhi stoire du Sud-Ouest (Prehistoire du Sud-Ouest; Supplément nº 5), p. 27-40. Résumé : Cette présentation est basée sur la détermination de la provenance des matières premières lithiques utilisées sur des occupations du Paléolithique supérieur de la vallée du Côa. Nous tentons d'évaluer l'intérêt et les limites de l'utilisation de plusieurs méthodes pour la caractérisation de vestiges archéologiques (établissement d'une lithothèque de différentes catégories de roches siliceuses, description pétrographique e t micropaléontologique, caractérisation géochimique par spectrométrie de masse). Les résultats obtenus permettent de définir plusieurs catégories de territoires exploités, dont les plus lointains sont distants de plus de 150 kilomètres pour les silex. Dans un deuxième point nous abordons le problème de l'interprétation de ces déplacements en proposant des reconstitutions possibles des modalités d'exploitation de ces ressources à partir de la comparaison de l'origine et du fractionnement des chaînes opératoires des différents matériaux (silex et autres) abandonnés sur des sites de durée d'occupation et de fonctions distinctes.
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In Central Portugal (westernmost Eurasia) the transition from the traditional Pleistocene hunter–gatherer societies to the complex Mesolithic societies of the Holocene has been debated for decades. While some argue that these differences were a progressive phenomenon that started with the shift from the Pleistocene to the Holocene, others defend that the Late Pleistocene patterns were fairly similar to those of the Epipaleolithic and that the major shift was rapid, dramatic and triggered by the necessary adaptation to the 8.2 ka cal BP (8.09–8.25 ka cal BP) climatic event. The study of lithic raw material provenance might be useful for this discussion, since it has been suggested that the Magdalenian and Epipaleolithic populations from this region were collecting this resources within a close range territory, whereas the Mesolithic populations were acquiring them at longer distances.
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