Roman whetstone production in northern Gaul (Belgium and northern France)

  • Aurélie Thiébaux Université de Liège
  • Marc Feller Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP)
  • Bruno Duchêne Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP)
  • Eric Goemaere Geological Survey of Belgium
Keywords: whetstones, provenance, Roman period, northern Gaul, Belgium, northern France, ground stone tools

Abstract


This paper focuses on the latest research on the production of Roman whetstones in northern Gaul. To date, little has been written about this specialised industry. However, three workshops producing whetstones were discovered recently in the north of Gaul in Buizingen (Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium), Nereth (Province of Liège, Belgium) and Le Châtelet-sur-Sormonne (Department of Ardennes, France). Production debris and rough-outs recovered at these sites allowed us to reconstruct the operational sequence of manufacture, from the choice of raw material to the finished product. Technological studies enabled us to determine the production stages and highlight the similarities and differences between the three study areas. Analyses of the materials reveal the use of fine-grained sedimentary and low-grade metamorphic rocks outcropping near the workshops. All these rocks are linked to the Caledonian inliers of Brabant-London, Stavelot-Venn, and Rocroi. The large amount of waste found at Le Châtelet-sur-Sormonne, far more than that recovered at Buizingen and Nereth, is indicative of the economic importance of this whetstone workshop. This importance is reflected in the fact that whetstones from Le Châtelet-sur-Sormonne are distributed over a large area throughout Belgium, France (Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Picardie and Champagne-Ardenne regions), Germany, and the Netherlands. This paper presents the waste and rough-outs from the three production sites. It also defines rock types and their origins and offers insights into whetstone manufacturing processes and techniques.

Author Biographies

Aurélie Thiébaux, Université de Liège
Archaeology Department 
University of Liège 
Quai Roosevelt 1B, 4000 Liège 
Belgium
Marc Feller, Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP)

Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP)
Halma-Ipel UMR 8164 (Lille3-CNRS-MCC). Rue de Méric 12, 57063 Metz
France

Bruno Duchêne, Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP)

Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP)
Rue Robert Fulton 28, 51689 Reims
France

Eric Goemaere, Geological Survey of Belgium

Geological Survey of Belgium
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Rue Jenner 13, 1000 Brussels
Belgium

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Published
31-Oct-2016
How to Cite
Thiébaux, A., Feller, M., Duchêne, B., & Goemaere, E. (2016). Roman whetstone production in northern Gaul (Belgium and northern France). Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 565-587. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.v3i3.1672
Section
Papers Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research