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Ortega, D., Roqué, C., Ibáñez, J., Beamud, E., Larrasoaña, J. C., Sáez, A., & Terradas, X. (2018). The chert from the Castelltallat Formation (south-central Pyrenees): archaeometric characterisation and archaeological implications. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 10(6), 1329–1346. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-016-0458-1

Abstract

Chert from the limestones and marly limestones of Castelltallat Formation (Ebro Basin) was widely used throughout prehistoric times in north-eastern Iberia to produce stone tools due to its properties and accessibility. A rough estimate indicates that this rock—either as raw material or as lithic products—was distributed mainly to the north of the outcrops, over an area of 6000–8000 km2. However, other rocks in the area have similar characteristics which can lead to confusion in the interpretation of its prehistoric use and distribution. In order to establish useful archaeometric criteria for differentiating this chert from other similar, the Castelltallat chert is characterised in petrographic, mineralogical and geochemical terms. The chert nodules are found to be homogenous at the macroscopic and microscopic level, with a significant presence of bioclasts, thus indicating they might be formed in a freshwater lake environment by the early diagenetic replacement of carbonates in shallow waters. The mineralogical composition is homogeneously uniform and of a flint type, characterised by an almost exclusive predominance of quartz, without any opaline phases, and a variable proportion of moganite. The iron oxide content is very low, whereas its chemical composition is unusually high in uranium which correlates positively with carbonate content and negatively with silica. Archaeometrical parameters are provided to reach a proper identification of tools knapped with this chert. This way, chert from Castelltallat Formation turns out to be a valuable lithological marker to evaluate the range of mobility of the human groups who lived in the north-eastern Iberia and their contacts with neighbouring areas.

Reference article

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