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Woody and non-woody forest raw material at the early Neolithic site of La Draga (Banyoles, Spain)

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La Draga is an open-air settlement located on the shoreline of Lake Banyoles in the Northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. To date, two occupation phases have been differentiated, both attributed to the Early Neolithic (5300–4900 cal BC). The proximity of the lake has meant that a large part of the site has been covered by the water table; as a consequence organic materials are well preserved. The preservation of wooden artefacts offers an excellent opportunity to study the techniques and crafts developed in the first Neolithic villages. This chapter presents the wooden tools related to agricultural practices. This assemblage consists of 45 pointed sticks, 24 of which can be interpreted as digging sticks according to ethnographic and archaeological parallels and the results of a specific experimental program, and 7 sickle handles, one of which holds a flint blade still inserted in its original position. The information these implements provide for the knowledge of the first agriculture is discussed and compared with data supplied by several archaeobotanical proxies. The two approaches are seen to contribute complementary data allowing a more comprehensive reconstruction of the farming practices of Early Neolithic communities in the Western Mediterranean.
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Several taphonomic factors influence the composition of the palynological record especially in archaeological deposits, where human activities alter the representation of taxa. Spatial analysis by a taphonomic approach to the distribution of pollen and non-pollen palynomorphs (NPP) provides useful information about intra-site spaces and environments in the Early Neolithic lakeside settlement of La Draga (Banyoles, NE Iberia). The spatial correlation of algae, lakeshore and aquatic plants and herbs with an economic value, together with eggs of intestinal parasites and spores of coprophilous fungi, evidence a humid and organic environment beneath a hut, where consumption waste is concentrated. In contrast, high values of arboreal pollen (AP) and spores of fungal indicators of soil erosion show a sub-aerial environment strongly altered by taphonomic processes in outside areas. Finally, the association of the highest values in Cerealia-t and the spatial distribution of grinding stones within Sector D identifies an area of cereal processing, proving the suitability of spatial analysis in archaeopalynology as a powerful tool for reconstructing activity areas within archaeological settlements.
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La Draga is an early Neolithic site on the shore of Lake Banyoles (Spain). The archaeological layer corresponding to the earliest occupation phase, dated 5324–4977 cal BC, has been preserved in waterlogged conditions. Several fragments of cords and plant fibres have survived in the site providing a unique example of cord production by early farmers in the western Mediterranean region. The types of cordage recovered at the site are presented here. Several cords made of twisted plant fibres and one made of liana show the diversity of cordage at La Draga. The production of the cords and their possible uses are also discussed. These finds add to the global evidence for advanced fibre technologies associated with the transition to agriculture during the early-to mid-Holocene.
Thesis
La Draga (5320-4800 cal BC) is an Early Neolithic waterlogged site situated at the shore of the Estany de Banyoles (Banyoles Lake). The exceptional preservation conditions allows the conservation of the organic matter, wood also, one of the raw materials most used during prehistory. The production process diagram has been the base for the classification of the woody materials: unworked wood (extraction process), technological debris (extraction and transformation processes), architectonic elements and tools (extraction, transformation and use processes). In order to study those processes different analytics have been implemented: dendrologic, morphometric, experimental, use and technological wear and spatial analysis. For the use and technological wear analysis it have been developed a methodology based on the creation of 3D models obtained with a scanner. This has allowed a detailed characterization of the technological and use wear. This work demonstrates that wood is a material that solves large variety of needs related to the preparation of habitat and working areas, as well as related to the various productive activities that require totally or partially wood elaborated tools. The great diversity of actions involved with the economic activities that have been documented, explain the diversity of tools recovered, demonstrating the versatility of the woody raw material. Livestock, hunting, agriculture, processing of fibers for manufacturing textiles, basketry and rope or wood technology require specialized tools. Its production tries to get the appropriate forms and dimensions, and use raw materials with certain properties. So while the arch requires flexible wood, the pointed stick needs hard and tough wood. Both cases illustrate well the relation between raw material and functionality. Regarding the volume of wood used, constructive activity is the one that required in more quantity. The resulting deforestation was notorious, evidenced by the fall of contemporary oak pollen in the settlement of la Draga. The volume of wood required for making utensils was much smaller and less impactful on the environment, but requires precise selection of raw material because it is the category where a greater variety of taxa, sizes and shapes are found. This work showed how wood was an essential element for the development of the site of la Draga. It is a raw material that affects the everyday basics, both social and economic, being essential for survival. It requires a continuous extraction and involves a very thorough knowledge and mastery of the surrounding woods, the development of social group for its production, processing and consumption, and complex knowledge work for development; practices that affect all aspects of everyday life for the development of the site of la Draga. La Draga is a unique and singular site in the Neolithic of the Iberian Peninsula, but the data can be regarded as significant related to the first farming communities in the NE of the Iberian Peninsula. They had the knowledge and technologies needed to exploit forest resources intensively and according to their needs. La Draga supply documentary evidence related with morphological diversity of wooden products and uses they are given. It also provides unique data about manufacturing processes of wood that until now were only known partially from the lithic tools. It has been possible to make visible processes and products where there is only wood involved
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Marvellous preservation of organic materials at the Neolithic site of La Draga in north-east Iberia include a range of wooden harvesting tools. The authors examine the wood and flint to describe a range of the earliest harvesting techniques and their diverse applications.
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This paper focuses on the high-resolution pollen analysis of one new pollen record from Lake Banyoles (Girona, Spain) and its contextualisation with other archaeobotanical records (charcoal, seed and wood remains) from the early Neolithic lakeshore settlement of La Draga. Around ca.7250 cal BP, coinciding with the first settlement phase of La Draga, a rapid fall of the pollen values of deciduous Quercus sp. is observed, and a stabilisation of these values is found until ca. 6000 cal BP. The causes for such changes in vegetation cover are discussed, taking into consideration environmental data to calibrate the role of climate in vegetation dynamics, as well as archaeobotanical data to evaluate impact of the management of vegetal resources on the landscape. The discussion of the data shows that climate could not have been the main cause for the decrease of broadleaf deciduous forests, and that the need of gathering raw material for the construction of dwellings played a major role in this change. The fact that these plant community does not recover during the occupation or after the abandonment of La Draga would confirm that human impact continued over time and that forest clearances were maintained for various purposes.
Article
Summary Manufacture of lime bast cordage in northern Europe has been an unbroken tradition from the Mesolithic (9000–3000 BC ) to the present day. The cordage was usually manufactured by stripping off the bark of lime trees in midsummer, submerging it in water to dissociate the adjacent bast layers, and then peeling off the outer bark and separating the bast layers in narrow bands. The bast bands were then spun to make cords, which in turn were twisted to cordage. Lime bast cordage is characterized by pliability, low specifi c weight, low extensibility and limited water absorbance. While the strength is superior to bast cordage of other European trees, particularly in wet conditions, it is susceptible to wear, has less strength than cordage of hemp and nylon, for example, and requires laborious manufacture. The skills required for making lime bast cordage are rare at present, but increased interest in natural fi bre products might safeguard and revitalize the craft for the future.
Article
During the last 15 years, charcoal analysis of archaeological sites in north-western France has been carried out in conjunction with systematic and detailed dendrological examination. By considering these extrinsic criteria in association with the analytical results, palaeo-ethnographic and palaeo-environmental information can be obtained. The charcoals are classically identified under the microscope on the basis of their cellular structure. This examination is associated with an observation of the ligneous structure on transverse sections using a binocular lens. When charcoal fragments are large enough, the growth ring widths are measured. Tree ring curvature is also noted. Finally, alteration by fusion or radial cracks, the presence of fungal hyphae, and insect degradation are also recorded. Results are thus obtained on the nature of fuel used in domestic fireplaces and kilns. The selection of timbers and their catchment areas are also revealed. The average width of the growth rings in oak charcoal from domestic hearths coming from about forty sites in north-western France shows a significant increase from 6000 to 2000 BP. There is a similar increase in the number of heliophilic taxa used from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. This implies that the environment became more and more open because of use by society. The interpretation of the dendrology results applied to charcoal analyses is obtained through a convergence of criteria. Thus, charcoal analysis can provide more than just an identification of the species used, and can yield fundamental information on the interaction of society with the environment.
Article
The colluvial soils of Galicia (NW Spain) are records of Holocene environmental change. In spite of the omnipresence of charcoal fragments in these soils, the effect of fires on the development of the Galician landscape and the potential role of past societies are poorly understood. We isolated macroscopic charcoal (>2 mm) and NaOH-extractable soil organic matter (SOM) from two Galician soils. Molecular characterisationm of the extractable SOM using pyrolysis-GC/MS showed that fire residues (black carbon; BC) were abundant in the extractable SOM, even in the horizons containing few macroscopic charcoals. This indicates that the macroscopic charcoal record often used in geoarchaeological studies gives an incomplete image of the fire history. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other presumably BC-derived pyrolysis products in samples from 8500 to 7000 cal years BP are evidence of Mesolithic fires. Molecular indicators of BC are abundant also in the Neolithic (c. 6000 BP), but the degree of thermal modification to the organic matter decreases, which could mirror a change in fuel type. This change coincides with the beginning of accelerated soil erosion in the area, and is followed by accumulation of relatively homogeneous BC-rich material up to at least the beginning of the Iron Age. This pattern is interpreted as deforestation around 6000 BP followed by periodic and presumably human-induced burning of poorly-developed vegetation(slash-and-burn). The open landscape of present-day Galicia would therefore be the outcome of prolonged anthropogenic burning, analogous to the open cultural landscapes of central Europe.
Vuit anys de recerca al jaciment arqueològic de la Dou (Sant Esteve d'en Bas, la Garrotxa): del neolític antic al bronze final
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  • C Tornero
Alcalde G., Colominas L., Pons E., Saña M., Tornero C. 2013-2014, "Vuit anys de recerca al jaciment arqueològic de la Dou (Sant Esteve d'en Bas, la Garrotxa): del neolític antic al bronze final". Tribuna d'Arqueologia, 2013-2014, pp. 195-209.
Dinámica de asentamiento en la zona volcánica de La Garrotxa (Catalunya) durante el Neolítico antiguo" in IV Congreso del Neolítico Peninsular: 27-30 de noviembre de
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Alcalde, G., Colominas, L., de Haro, S., Lladó, E., Saña, M., Tornero, C. 2008, "Dinámica de asentamiento en la zona volcánica de La Garrotxa (Catalunya) durante el Neolítico antiguo" in IV Congreso del Neolítico Peninsular: 27-30 de noviembre de 2006, Vol. 1, coords. M.S. Hernández Pérez, J.A. Soler Díaz, J.A. López Padilla, Museo Arqueológico de Alicante, Diputación de Alicante, Alicante, pp. 216-220.
Procés d'ocupació de la Bauma del Serrat del Pont (La Garrotxa) entre 5480 i 2900 cal AC
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Alcalde, G., Molist M., Saña M. 2002, Procés d'ocupació de la Bauma del Serrat del Pont (La Garrotxa) entre 5480 i 2900 cal AC, Museu Comarcal de la Garrotxa, Olot.
Aportacions de la microestructura òssia i la biomecànica a l'estudi de la domesticació animal i pràctiques ramaderes inicials al mediterrani oriental i occidental (10000-4000 cal BC), PhD dissertation
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Alcàntara Fors R. 2019, Aportacions de la microestructura òssia i la biomecànica a l'estudi de la domesticació animal i pràctiques ramaderes inicials al mediterrani oriental i occidental (10000-4000 cal BC), PhD dissertation, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
Un modelo bayesiano para la cro nología del yacimiento neolítico de La Draga
  • V Andreaki
  • J A Barceló
  • I Bogdánovic
  • P Gassman
  • O López Bultó
  • N Morera
  • A Palomo
  • R Piqué
  • J Revelles
  • X Terradas
  • F Antolín
Andreaki, V., Barceló, J.A., Bogdánovic, I, Gassman, P., López Bultó, O., Morera, N., Palomo, A., Piqué, R., Revelles, J., Terradas, X., Antolín, F. 2020, "Un modelo bayesiano para la cro nología del yacimiento neolítico de La Draga (Banyoles, Girona). Un caso de estudio con ChronoModel 2.0", in Métodos Cronométricos en Arqueología, Historia y Paleontología, eds. J.A. Barceló & B. Morell, Editorial Dextra, Madrid, pp. 280-291.
Alcuni dati da recenti interventi
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  • M A Borrello
Baioni, M., Binaghi Leva, M.A., Borrello, M.A. 2005, "L'Isolino di Varese. Alcuni dati da recenti interventi", in WES'04 -Wetland Economies and Societies. Proceedings of the International Conference in Zurich, 10-13 March 2004, dirs. P. Della Casa, M. Trachsel, Chronos, Zurich, pp. 209-214.
El poblat neolític de Plansallosa: l'explotació del territori dels primers agricultors-ramaders de l'Alta Garrotxa
  • A Bosch
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Bosch, A., Buxó, R., Palomo, T., Buch, M., Mateu, J., Tabernero, E., Casadevall, J. 1998, El poblat neolític de Plansallosa: l'explotació del territori dels primers agricultors-ramaders de l'Alta Garrotxa. Museu Comarcal de la Garrotxa, Olot.