Shine on you crazy diamond: Symbolism and social use of fluorite ornaments in Iberia’s late prehistory

  • José Ángel Garrido-Cordero Universidad de Sevilla
  • Carlos P. Odriozola Universidad de Sevilla
  • Ana C. Sousa UNIARQ
  • Victor S. Gonçalves UNIARQ
  • João Luís Cardoso Universidade Aberta
Keywords: Adornments, beads, translucent, fluorite, Iberian Peninsula, late prehistory, Raman spectroscopy, XRD

Abstract


Fluorite ornaments have been recorded in different sites of Europe since Upper Paleolithic. Due to its visual appearance and physical properties, some translucent or transparent mineralogies like fluorite were searched for or casually acquired by late prehistory’s human communities. After intensive research on archaeological contexts from the Iberian Peninsula with personal ornaments from 4th to 2nd millennia BCE, we have recently identified and characterized for the first time an important number of fluorite ornaments, confronting a previous background where little attention was paid. Our work has been carried out in different archaeological collections and museums from the whole Iberian Peninsula by non-destructive techniques (Raman spectroscopy, portable X-ray fluorescence (p-XRF) and X-ray Diffraction (XRD), that revealed the nature of fluorite ornaments and points to its consideration as scarce and highly symbolic items during late prehistory. A total of 36 fluorite beads from 23 sites are here recorded and studied, many of them inedits or wrong catalogued as other mineralogies. These adornments could have important roles in trade and use among the communities of Iberia from the 4th millennium BCE onwards, because of their scarcity and its recurrent association with important funerary complex and exotic materials. Fluorite ornaments could have been significant and special symbols in the development of new and exclusive raw materials in the context of increasing social complexity and inequality.

Author Biographies

Carlos P. Odriozola, Universidad de Sevilla

Departamento de Prehistoria y Arqueología
Universidad de Sevilla
Calle Doña María de Padilla, s/n, 41004
Sevilla, Spain.  

Ana C. Sousa, UNIARQ

UNIARQ
Centro de Arqueologia da Universidade de Lisboa
Alameda da Universidade 1600-214,
Lisboa, Portugal.  

Victor S. Gonçalves, UNIARQ

UNIARQ
Centro de Arqueologia da Universidade de Lisboa
Alameda da Universidade 1600-214
Lisboa, Portugal.  

João Luís Cardoso, Universidade Aberta

Universidade Aberta
Rua da Escola Politécnica, 1269-001, Lisboa
Centro de Estudos Arqueológicos do Concelho de Oeiras (Câmara Municipal de Oeiras)
Portugal

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Published
08-Apr-2021
How to Cite
Garrido-Cordero, J. Ángel, Odriozola, C., Sousa, A., Gonçalves, V., & Cardoso, J. L. (2021). Shine on you crazy diamond: Symbolism and social use of fluorite ornaments in Iberia’s late prehistory. Journal of Lithic Studies, 8(1), p. 1-17. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.3025
Section
Research Articles