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New insights into the technological management of the Neolithic cowrie beads in the Levant. An experimental and traceological approach

AuthorsAlarashi, Hala
KeywordsCowrie beads
Batch processing
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
Issue Date2021
PublisherSidestone Press
CitationBeyond Use-Wear Traces: Going from tools to people by means of archaeological wear and residue analyses : 171-184 (2021)
AbstractThe Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) village of Tell Halula (Northern Syria) has yielded an important assemblage of cowrie beads that were employed in the composition of belts and diadem-like ornaments. Cowrie shells were perforated through the complete removal of the dorsal part. The techno-traceological analyses and comparisons with the created experimental references indicate that the perforations were first made by percussion, then leveled by grinding. In addition to the technical traces of perforation recorded on the dorsum, ambiguous large facets full of striations cover the ventral side of the cowries. Were these intentionally abraded in order to fit the shells into garments or supports? Were they formed accidentally during the manufacture process, or produced during the use of the ornament? Based on the experimental results, it was hypothesized that the finishing stage of the perforation was carried out using a device to seize a batch of shells during the grinding. The batch processing is argued by the regularity and homogeneity of the finishing quality, and by the highly standardized thickness of the shells. The technological management of cowries through batch processing is also discussed taking into consideration the PPNB chrono-cultural context during which body ornaments pass an important quantitative and qualitative threshold along with the consolidation of the farming life-style in Mesopotamia and the Levant.
ISBN978-94-6426-000-7 [softcover]
978-94-6426-001-4 [hardcover]
Appears in Collections:(IMF) Libros y partes de libros
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