Bronze Age cereal processing in Southern Iberia: A material approach to the production and use of grinding equipment

  • Selina Delgado-Raack Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Roberto Risch Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Keywords: grinding tools, Iberian Early Bronze Age, functional analysis, mechanical properties, ground stone tools

Abstract


During the last two decades important progress has been made regarding functional analysis on prehistoric grinding equipment, thanks to the application of new methods and techniques. Despite these efforts studies integrating archaeology, ethnography, geology and other disciplines related to the material sciences are still rare. The main focus of this paper is placed on the grinding equipment composed of two elements, grinding slab and rubber, acting in reciprocal abrasive contact. Starting from systematic petrological, morphometrical, and functional analysis, qualitative and quantitative data are considered to define the manufacturing and use of grinding tools participating specifically in the production of flour. Morphology and size of grinding slabs and rubbers, raw materials used for manufacturing them, their mechanical properties as well as the geographical management of rocks will be interrelated in this study. From a methodological perspective, socio-economic contexts where grain processing was the main food supplying strategy are of particular interest. In these contexts, access to mechanically optimal raw materials and technical equipment plays a crucial role in the social as well as biological reproduction of human communities. This was the case in the El Argar society of southeast Iberia, where barley became the main staple food and the basic good of large scale surplus production between 2200 and 1550 cal. BCE. We will use this archaeological context to highlight the complexity of macro-lithic tool analyses and in particular with regards to the study of grinding tools. The ultimate aim is to understand to what extent the technological parameters of this subsistence strategy were related to the development of class society.

Author Biographies

Selina Delgado-Raack, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Department of Prehistory
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Edifici B, Facultat de Filosofia i Lletres, E-08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona
Spain

Roberto Risch, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Department of Prehistory
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Edifici B, Facultat de Filosofia i Lletres, E-08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona
Spain

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Published
31-Oct-2016
How to Cite
Delgado-Raack, S., & Risch, R. (2016). Bronze Age cereal processing in Southern Iberia: A material approach to the production and use of grinding equipment. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 125-145. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.v3i3.1650
Section
Papers Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research