SiLiBA: Building the geological chert lithotheque
Lithotheques collect and exhibit raw material used by human communities for the manufacturing of objects during the Prehistory and represents an important tool of their knowledge. These collections are essential in the procuring and provenance study of archaeological lithic industries.
This paper aims, firstly, to introduce SiLiBA, the lithotheque of the Earth and Geoenvironmental Sciences Department of the University of Bari Aldo Moro (Italy), as reference collection in the archaeological field studies, and secondly to propose guidelines and rules to build a lithotheque. The collection consists of about 900 pieces of geological cherts, which are the result of an expanded collecting action of primary and secondary cherts across Italy (Apulia, Basilicata, Sicily), Croatia, and Switzerland, belonging to formations from the Cretaceous to the Quaternary Period. All the chert samples were described according to the non-destructive multiparametric protocol for chert investigation (NM-PCI), providing a modular dataset of binary, ordinal and continuous variables which integrates petrographycal, micropaleontological, chemical and physical data. Such results were summarized in suitable reports, with also geographic coordinates, geological description and photographic documentation, in a digital database, which will be soon online. Cherts are grouped in 37 suitable boxes, following geographic hierarchical organisation and reporting informative labels. Some representative samples are exposed in the Earth Sciences Museum of the same University. Furthermore, the lithotheque is equipped by a dedicated laboratory which includes optical microscopes, a glossmeter and a spectrophotocolorimeter. The promotion in the last years was guaranteed by dissemination activities for educational and academic communities, including an interactive laboratory of experimental archaeology.
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