The Escalada Formation: Characterization of a potential chert supply source in the Cantabrian Mountains (NW Spain) during prehistory.

  • M. Natividad Fuertes-Prieto Universidad de León
  • Esperanza Fernández-Martínez Universidad de León
  • Fernando Gómez-Fernández Universidad de León
  • Eduardo Alonso-Herrero Universidad de León
  • Diego Herrero Alonso Universidad de Salamanca
  • Ana Neira-Campos Universidad de León
Keywords: lithic raw materials, carboniferous "black chert", Cantabrian Mountains, Ponga Unit, Escalada Formation

Abstract


A study of the chert nodules found in the Escalada Formation (Carboniferous, Ponga region, Cantabrian Zone) was carried out as a means to characterise a number of lithic raw materials found in several prehistoric sites of the Cantabrian Mountains (NW Spain). This study comprises fieldwork aimed at locating the outcrops and obtaining samples. Some selected samples from two localities were used for both petrological (macroscopic and microscopic analyses from thin sections) and geochemical (X-ray fluorescence and powder diffraction) analysis. The macroscopic study shows a rather homogeneus coloration and a conchoidal fracture although two extreme types of cherts with a variety of intermediate forms can be differentiated according to the matrix composition. The microscopic analysis shows a high heterogeneity in carbonate versus silica percentage and gentle differences in some other features such as type of silica, origin of carbonates, occurrence of organic matter and type of skeletal components. The results of several geochemical analysis suggest that there are not geochemical features neither in the major elements nor in the traces that allows us to clearly distinguish between the analysed samples. All these studies allow us to define the main features of these chert nodules and to establish several types and varieties among them. Those varieties with high percentage of silica and with a more homogeneous matrix are the most suitable samples for knapping. These results together with the study of the geological and geographical location of archaeological sites suggest that the nodules from the Escalada Formation likely were lithic material supply sources used in knapping activities

When aiming to demonstrate the use of these materials at archaeological sites the sole macroscopic analysis of the pieces does not suffice; further analyses, such as those involving thin sections, are necessary. The absence of chert from Escalada Formation in some Mesolithic sites in the area was confirmed via these additional analyses.

Author Biographies

M. Natividad Fuertes-Prieto, Universidad de León

Área de Prehistoria
Departamento de Historia
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras
Universidad de León
Campus de Vegazana s/n
24071 León
Spain

Esperanza Fernández-Martínez, Universidad de León

Área de Paleontología
Universidad de León
Spain

Fernando Gómez-Fernández, Universidad de León

Área de Prospección e Investigación Minera
Universidad de León
Spain

Eduardo Alonso-Herrero, Universidad de León

Área de Edafología y Química del Suelo
Universidad de León
Spain

Diego Herrero Alonso, Universidad de Salamanca

Universidad de Salamanca
Spain

Ana Neira-Campos, Universidad de León

Área de Prehistoria
Departamento de Historia
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras
Universidad de León
Campus de Vegazana s/n
24071 León
Spain

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Published
15-Sep-2016
How to Cite
Fuertes-Prieto, M. N., Fernández-Martínez, E., Gómez-Fernández, F., Alonso-Herrero, E., Herrero Alonso, D., & Neira-Campos, A. (2016). The Escalada Formation: Characterization of a potential chert supply source in the Cantabrian Mountains (NW Spain) during prehistory. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(2). https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.v3i2.1421
Section
ISKM 2015 - Barcelona