Characterisation of Early Neolithic chert resources in the Pusta Reka region


Raw material varieties of the Leskovac basin (© M. Brandl/OREA)

This project aims at the reconstruction of Early Neolithic resource management strategies through the characterization of local versus non-local raw materials in lithic assemblages from the Pusta Reka region in order to answer questions concerning the use of the prehistoric landscape of this micro-region.

Scientific questions


The results of the provenance studies will be used to answer the following scientific questions:

  • What is the local versus non-local component in the lithic assemblages?
  • In what reduction stages were the different raw materials introduced into the archaeological sites?
  • How do the non-local components correspond to the findings of earlier studies concerning Early Neolithic resource management strategies in the Balkans?

Answering these question will allow to reconstruct prehistoric economic behaviour that can be contrasted with the outcomes of studies from other regions, e.g. Bulgaria, Macedonia and Greece, shedding light on similarities and differences of lithic resource management. This will significantly contribute to our understanding of Neolithisation processes on a supra-regional scale.

Work plan


The working schedule involves geo-archaeological surveys throughout the Pusta Reka area in order to locate silicite deposits. Samples of both, archaeological artefacts and geological deposits will be collected in order to perform provenance studies following the Multi Layered Cert Sourcing Approach (MLA).

Methods


Investigation of the reduction stage of the artefacts

In the initial step, all archaeological finds will be investigated according to their reduction stages in order to investigate the source type of the raw materials present in the lithic assemblages. Natural surface remains will elucidate if they originate from river gravels or from primary deposits, which is crucial for provenance studies.

Lithic raw material determination will be conducted according to Brandl (2014), and establish what kind of lithic raw materials were used for chipped stone tool production, e.g. chert, jasper, opals, etc.

Provenance studies will follow the MLA chert sourcing concept (Brandl et al. 2014). Macroscopic / visual investigation allows to separate visually distinct groups. These groups have to be tested for their consistency through microscopy. Microscopic investigation aims at the identification of characteristic inclusions in silicites. Micropalaeontological analysis can help to identify or narrow down a raw material cluster. Geochemical analyses are performed applying Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). LA-ICP-MS allows for the detection of main-, trace- and ultra-trace element concentrations (-0.1 ppm) in rock materials. The multivariate geochemical datasets are subsequently evaluated by applying Compositional Data Analysis (CODA) which allows allocating lithic artefacts to a source or a source region.