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Sickles and “something more” at the Chalcolithic site of Camino de las Yeseras (Madrid, Spain). How use-wear analysis discovers such new production activities as threshing

AuthorsGibaja, Juan Francisco ; Castañeda, Nuria; Ríos, Patricia; Liesau, Corina; Ortiz, Irene
Central Iberia
Use-wear analysis
Issue Date2020
CitationJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports (31) : Article 102342 - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102342 (2020)
AbstractUntil recently, few studies have been made of lithic tools from Chalcolithic sites although they comprise a very abundant record in many productive and funerary contexts. However, it is now possible to go deeper into more aspects than merely typological ones. Use-wear analysis provides the possibility of inferring the functionality of certain lithic pieces that, until now, have been interpreted as sickles by applying only typological analysis. This research presents an initial study of 17 blade and leaf-shaped tools documented at the central Iberian site of Camino de las Yeseras (San Fernando de Henares, Madrid, Spain). The sample was recovered in different types of domestic structures –huts, segments of ditched enclosures and different pit features–. Although they are typical of Chalcolithic assemblages, these types of tools have not been systematically studied from a traceological or even technological point of view. The results of this study reveal cereal processing in the site, which is well supported by the presence of millstones, remains of cereal grains, pollen and other phytolithic evidence of vegetal elements like spikes and straw. We have performed a techno-traceological study of a set of blade and leaf-shaped pieces in order to identify their use and try to distinguish tasks connected with farming activities. This research has obtained important results inferring that the leaf-shaped bifacial pieces were not only sickles, but also threshing-board elements. The traces on the tools confirm the implementation of a new farming technology at the site, which would favour a more efficient exploitation of vegetal resources. Indeed, large-scale cereal production would require tools as complex and effective as threshing-boards. In conclusion, it is necessary to emphasize the important role that use-wear analysis can play in research into Chalcolithic lithic technology. In this case, the use-wear results indicate that most of the pieces described typologically as sickles must have been hafted or inserted in some kind of threshing tool. Up to now, only a few Iberian sites are known with threshing tools, and the Camino de las Yeseras results indicate new agricultural technologies in cereal grain exploitation at Chalcolithic Iberian sites.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102342
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