A prehistoric jade axe from Galicia (Northwestern Iberia): Researching its origin

Oscar Lantes-Suárez (Author)

Universidade de Santiago de Compostela https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1987-9759

Carlos Rodríguez-Rellán (Author)

Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Ramón Fábregas Valcarce (Author)

Universidade de Santiago de Compostela https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7940-6884

Arturo de Lombera Hermida (Author)

Universidade de Santiago de Compostela https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9199-6242

Aida González Pazos (Author)

Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

Pierre Pétrequin (Author)

CNRS and Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

Michel Errera (Author)

Musée Royal de l’Afrique centrale

Keywords:
Jade Axes, Archaeometric analytical method, SEM-EDX, XRD, Lithics Archaeometry, NW Iberia

Abstract


The Vilapedre axe (Lugo, Northwest Iberia) has been traditionally considered by archaeologists as evidence of prehistoric long-distance contacts along the Atlantic Coast of France and Spain. This artefact - as other “Tumiac type” axes (long polished blades, generally butt-perforated) - would have been produced in Brittany during the Neolithic (5th millennium BCE) using jadeitite as raw material, a green-coloured rock for which there are sources in the western Italian Alps. In this paper, we have traced the possible archaeological origin of this artefact back by examining the personal files of one of its first owners, Santiago de la Iglesia. Furthermore, we have conducted a mineralogical (X-Ray Diffraction, XRD) and an elemental analysis (Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray Detection, SEM-EDX) of both the Vilapedre axe and geological samples from several places at the Alps where prehistoric quarrying of greenstones has been reported. The aims were physicochemically characterizing the axe to provide information about its possible geological source. During our analyses, we have found significant compositional similarities between the Vilapedre axe and one of the geological samples coming from the Alps (Alp06). The results are therefore consistent with the alleged Alpine origin of this artefact. The presence of this axe in Northwest Spain, together with other evidence, such as the presence of objects of Iberian origin in Breton monuments, strongly suggests the existence of contacts between both regions of the Atlantic façade during the Neolithic onwards in which seafaring would undoubtedly have played an important role.

Author Biographies

Oscar Lantes-Suárez, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

Servicio de Arqueometría
RIAIDT
Edificio CACTUS, s/n. 15782
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela,
Galicia, Spain

Carlos Rodríguez-Rellán, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Departamento de Historia
Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Lisbon, Portugal.

Ramón Fábregas Valcarce, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

GEPN-AAT
Departamento de Historia
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Galicia, Spain.

Arturo de Lombera Hermida, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

GEPN-AAT
Departamento de Historia
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Galicia, Spain

Aida González Pazos, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

Unidade de Raios X
RIAIDT
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Galicia, Spain

Pierre Pétrequin, CNRS and Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

MSHE C.-N. Ledoux, CNRS 
Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Besançon, France

Michel Errera, Musée Royal de l’Afrique centrale

Musée Royal de l’Afrique centrale
Belgique

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Published
15-Mar-2021
How to Cite
Lantes-Suárez, O., Rodríguez-Rellán, C., Fábregas Valcarce, R., de Lombera Hermida, A., González Pazos, A., Pétrequin, P., & Errera, M. (2021). A prehistoric jade axe from Galicia (Northwestern Iberia): Researching its origin. Journal of Lithic Studies, 8(1), 29 p. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.4336
Section
Research articles from the EAA meeting in Barcelona