The Monegros-type chert: Petrographic characterization and prehistoric use

  • Luis Miguel García-Simón Universidad de Zaragoza
  • Rafael Domingo Universidad de Zaragoza

Abstract


In recent years, allusions to exploitation of a so-called “Monegros-type” chert have been a commonplace in archaeological literature, mostly in Iberia but also in southern France. It has been also a routine that these references did not include a true petrographic characterization, being mere de visu descriptions of those products.

This work presents, for the first time, macro and microscopic characterizations of some of the most outstanding chert outcrops located in the Middle Ebro Basin. There, tertiary limestone sediments that form the top part of the flat plateau reliefs hold great quantities of chert nodules. The noteworthy erosive processes that have affected this area have facilitated the gathering of those cherts: they are easy to find either in their original location, still embedded in the limestone layers, or in secondary position along the enormous glacis that connect those flat reliefs to the river terraces. Two main flint varieties have been defined: Monegros and Evaporitic of Ebro. Both were originated in continental lacustrine environments. They are fine-grained and offer excellent knapping possibilities; hence its common use since prehistoric times to recent semi-industrial exploitations related to 18th century gunflint productions.

This paper offers a preliminary study that will be developed in a forthcoming PhD dissertation, but we also include examples of its prehistoric exploitation in the Ebro Basin and abroad.

Author Biography

Rafael Domingo, Universidad de Zaragoza
Universidad de Zaragoza
Área de Prehistoria
C/ Pedro Cerbuna, 12.
50009 Zaragoza
Spain

References

Barandiarán, I. 1971, Cueva de los Encantados (Belchite, Zaragoza). Noticiario Arqueológico Hispánico, 16: 11-52. (in Spanish) (“Encantados Cave (Belchite, Zaragoza)”)
Barandiarán, I. 1974, Un taller de piedras de fusil en el Ebro medio. Cuadernos de etnología y etnografía de Navarra, 17: 189-228. (in Spanish) (“A gunflint workshop in the Middle Ebro”)
Barandiarán, I. 1975, Revisión estratigráfica de la cueva de la Mora (Somaén, Soria) 1968. Noticiario Arqueológico Hispánico, Prehistoria, 3: 11-85. (in Spanish) (“Stratigraphic review of the Mora Cave (Somaén, Soria)”)
Cava, A. 1986, La industria lítica de la prehistoria reciente en la Cuenca del Ebro. Boletín del Museo de Zaragoza, 5: 5-72. (in Spanish) (“Lithic industry of the recent prehistory in the Ebro Basin”)
Dunham, R. J. 1962, Classification of carbonate rocks according to depositional texture. In: Classification of carbonate rocks (Ham, W.E., Ed.), American Association of Petroleum Geologists Memoir Vol. 1, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa: p. 108–121.
García-Simón, L.M., Domingo, R., & Montes, L, 2016, The marine chert from Las Lezas (Biel, Zaragoza) and its prehistoric exploitation. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(2): 13 p. doi:10.2218/jls.v3i2.1419
ISKM 2015 (2015), 10th International Symposium on Knappable Materials. On the rocks. University of Barcelona, September 2015. URL: http://www.ub.edu/cherts-symp2015/
Langlais, M., & Sanchhi, D. 2016, Note sur les matières premières siliceuses exploitées par les Magdaléniens de la Grotte Gazel (Aude, France). In: Notions de terriroire et de mobilité (Bressy, C., Burke, A., Chalard, P., & Martin, H., Eds.), Études et Recherches Archéologiques de l’Université de Liège (ERAUL) Vol. 116, Université de Liège, Liège: p. 71-75. (in French) (“The siliceous raw materials exploited by Magdalenian people in Gazel Cave (Aude, France)”)
Leorza, R. 2013, Estudio de las materias primas líticas. In: El campamento mesolítico del Cabezo de la Cruz. La Muela, Zaragoza (J.M. Rodanés & Picazo, J.V., Eds.), Monografías arqueológicas, Vol. 45, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, pp. 43-74. (in Spanish) (“Study of the lithic raw materials”)
Maluquer de Motes, J. 1957, Los talleres de sílex al aire libre del Alto Aragón. Excavaciones en Navarra, 5: 63-86. (in Spanish) (“The open-air chert knapping sites of the Alto Aragón”)
Mangado, X. 2005. La caracterización y el aprovisionamiento de los recursos abióticos en la Prehistoria de Cataluña: Las materias primas silíceas del Paleolítico Superior Final y el Epipaleolítico. BAR International Series 1420, Archaeopress, Oxford, 205 p. (in Spanish) (“The caracterization and gathering of the abiotic resources in the Catalonian Prehistory: The lithic raw materials from the Upper Palaeolithic and the Epipalaeolithic”)
Montes, L., & Domingo, R. 2014, Hallazgos singulares del Neolítico y del Calcolítico-Bronce en la Hoya de Huesca. Saldvie, 13-14(2013-2014): 125-139. (in Spanish) (“Singular findings from the Neolithic and the Chalcolithic-Bronce in the Hoya de Huesca”)
Montes, L., Domingo, R., González-Sampériz, P., Sebastián, M., Aranbarri, J., Castaños, P., García-Simón, L.M., Alcolea, M., & Laborda, R. 2016, Landscape, resources and people during the Mesolithic and Neolithic times in NE Iberia: The Arba de Biel Basin. Quaternary International, 403: 133-150. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.05.041
Perrin, T., Bellot-Gurlet, L., & Jédikian-Cap, G. 2006, Les productions laminaires du gisement chasséen de Saint-Michel-du-Touch (Toulouse, Haute-Garonne). Premières réflexions. In: La fin de l'Âge de Pierre en Europe du Sud (Vaquer, J., & Briois, F., Eds.), Actes de la table ronde de l'EHESS, Carcassonne, 5 et 6 septembre 2003. Centre d'Anthropologie, l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Toulouse: p. 85-103. (in French) (“The laminar productions of the Chassean site of Saint-Michel-du-Touch (Toulouse, Haute-Garonne). First reflections”)
Pons, F., Bruxelles, L., Léa, V., Vaquer, J., Bevilacqua, R., Jarry, M., & Martin, H. 2015, Le site de Pinot 2 à Blagnac (Haute-Garonne) et le début du Néolithique moyen dans le Sud-Ouest de la France. Bulletin Préhistorique du Sud-Ouest, 23: 39-100. (in French) (“The Pinot 2 site at Blagnac (Haute-Garonne) and the beginnings of the Middle Neolithic in SW France”)
Quirantes, J. 1978, Estudio sedimentológico y estratigráfico del Terciario continental de los Monegros. Institución “Fernando el Católico”, Zaragoza, 200 p. (in Spanish) (“Sedimentological and stratigraphic study of the continental Tertiary in Monegros”)
Rey, J. 1987, La población prehistórica del interfluvio Flumen-Alcandre. Bolskan, 4: 67-122. (in Spanish) (Prehistoric population of the Flumen-Alcanadre interfluve”)
Roy, M., Tarriño, A., Benito-Calvo, A., Mora, R., & Martínez-Moreno, J. 2013, Aprovisionamiento de sílex en el Prepirineo oriental durante el Paleolítico superior antiguo: El nivel arqueológico 497C de Cova Gran (Santa Linya, Lleida). Trabajos de Prehistoria, 70(1): 7-27. (in Spanish) (Chert gathering in the eastern Pre-Pyrenees along the ancient Upper Palaeolithic: Archaeological level 497C of Cova Gran (Santa Linya, Lleida)”)
Roy, M., Mora, R., Plasencia, J., Martínez-Moreno, J., & Benito-Calvo, A. in press, Quartzite selection in fluvial Deposits: The N12 level of Roca dels Bous (Middle Palaeolithic, southeastern Pyrenees). Quaternary International. 12 p. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.09.010
Tarriño, A. 2001, Procedencia de los sílex de la industria lítica del yacimiento de Aizpea (Arive, Navarra). In: Cazadores-recolectores en el Pirineo Navarro. El sitio de Aizpea entre 8000 y 6000 años antes de ahora (Cava Almuzara, A., & Barandiarán Maestu, I. Eds.), Anejos de Veleia Vol. 10, Universidad del País Vasco, Vitoria: p. 51-62. (in Spanish) (“Origin of the chert elements of the lithic industry from the site of Aizpea (Arive, Navarra)”)
Tarriño, A. 2005, Fuentes de aprovisionamiento de los sílex del yacimiento arqueológico de Mendandia (Sáseta, Condado de Treviño). In: El campamento prehistórico de Mendandia: Ocupaciones mesolíticas y neolíticas entre el 8500 y el 6400 B.P. (Alday, A., Ed.), Arabako Foru Aldundia, Vitoria: p. 465-486. (in Spanish) (“Gathering sources of the cherts from the archaeological site of Mendandia (Sáseta, Condado de Treviño)”)
Tilo, M. A. 1991, Estudio de los yacimientos líticos de superficie localizados entre Fraga y Candasnos (Huesca). Bolskan, 7: 109-164. (in Spanish) (“Study of the open-air sites located between Fraga and Candasnos (Huesca)”)
Torchy, L. 2013, De l’amont vers l’aval: Function et gestion des productions lithiques dans les réseaux d’échanges du Chasséen méridional. PhD thesis, Université de Toulouse II, Toulouse, 361 p. (in French) (“From upstream to downstream: Function and management of the lithic productions in the networks of the southern Chassean”)
Utrilla, P. 1975, Nuevo yacimiento del Bronce Antiguo en Alcañiz: El Cortado de Baselga. Miscelánea Arqueológica que al profesor Antonio Beltrán Martínez dedican sus discípulos de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de Zaragoza en ocasión de sus bodas de plata con la cátedra. Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, p. 85-96. (in Spanish) (“New site from the Ancient Bronze in Alcañiz: El Cortado de Baselga”)
Utrilla, P. 1995, Materiales líticos. La cueva del Moro de Olvena (Huesca), Vol. 1. Bolskan, 12: 49-86. (in Spanish) (“Lithic materials. The Moro de Olvena cave (Huesca)”)
Vaquer, J., & Remicourt, M. 2006, Rythmes et modalités d’approvisionnement en silex blond bédoulien dans le chasséen du bassin de l’Aude: Le cas d’Auriac, Carcassonne (Aude). Documents d’Archéologie en Rhône-Alpes et en Auvergne, 34: 39-56. (in French) (Gathering modalities and rhythms of bédoulien blonde chert in the Chassean from the Aude Basin: The case of Auriac, Carcassonne (Aude)”)
Vaquer, J., & Vergély, H. 2006, L’utilisation du silex en plaquette dans le Néolithique final et le Chalcolithique du sud Massif Central aux Pyrénées. In: La fin de l´Âge de Pierre en Europe du Sud. Archives d’Écologie Préhistorique (Vaquer, J., & Briois, F., Eds.), Centre d’Anthropologie, Toulouse, p. 175-204 (in French) (“Platelet chert employment in the Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic from the southern Massif Central to the Pyrenees”)
Published
15-Sep-2016
How to Cite
García-Simón, L., & Domingo, R. (2016). The Monegros-type chert: Petrographic characterization and prehistoric use. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(2). https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.v3i2.1417
Section
ISKM 2015 - Barcelona