6th Experimental Archaeology Conference Poster Abstract – Antonio Morgado et al

From the 6th Experimental Archaeology Conference, York, 2012.

Experimentation on the lithic technology of ophites rocks. The manufacture of axes heads in the South of the Iberian Peninsula

Antonio Morgado(1), Francsico Martínez-Sevilla(1), José Antonio Lozano(2)

1) Dpto. Prehistoria y Arqueología, Universidad de Granada, Spain and 2) Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra, CSIC-Universidad de Granada, Spain

A PDF of the poster, copyright of the authors, is available for download

Geographically speaking, in the majority of the European continent, axe heads from late prehistory had flint as the raw
material. However those found in the south of the Iberian Peninsula were made out with tenacious rocks (metamorphic and igneous). The raw material by which they were elaborated is important because it conditions their technical process. These rocks present an anisotropic fracture because of their holocrystaline and heterogranular structure. Places of explotation related to the supply and elaboration of axe heads have not been recognized to date. One of the reasons for this is the absence of experimental references about the knapping of the rocks, particularly ophitic rocks.

This paper gives one of the first archaeological examples of the elaboration of axe heads in the South of the Iberian Peninsula. The Sierra Martilla site is located in the eastern sector of Trías de Antequera (Málaga-Granada, Spain) and is dated from the Neolithic and Copper Age (V-III mil. cal. BC). At this site subvolcanic rocks (ophitic rocks) are exploited with evidence of knapping destritus in different levels of transformation.

Departing from the archaeological record, an experimental aproximation has been designed with two objectives. The first aim is the recognition of the knapping stigmata of these rocks with an ophitic texture. This experimental reference has established the first technological distinction which enables us to distinguish between the knapping techniques used and the nature of the knapping tools. The second objective is to understand the different products of the knapping technique through the creation ofan experimental method of the chaine operative of the elaboration of preforms of axes.

Overall, this paper establishes for the first time in the south of the Iberian Peninsula an archaeological and experimental
analysis about the elaboration of axe heads with ophitic rocks as their raw material. This experimental technical process
develops an understanding of the extraction technique of the raw material, the creation of supports for the axes, the façonnage of the axes, and their completion thanks to the polished.

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