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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2016 / Geochemical sourcing of flint artifacts from Western Belgium and the German Rhineland: testing hypotheses on Gravettian period mobility and raw material economy

Luc Moreau, Michael Brandl, Peter Filzmoser, Christoph Hauzenberger, Eric Goemaere, Ivan Jadin, Hélène Collet, Anne Hauzeur and Ralf Schmitz (2016)

Geochemical sourcing of flint artifacts from Western Belgium and the German Rhineland: testing hypotheses on Gravettian period mobility and raw material economy

Geoarchaeology, 31(3):229-243.

Identifying the geological and geographical origin of lithic raw materials is critical to effectively address prehistoric forager raw material economies and mobility strategies. Currently, Paleolithic archaeology in Belgium lacks a systematic sourcing strategy to effectively substantiate detailed interpretations of prehistoric hunter-gatherer behavioral change across time and space. This pilot study evaluates the potential to “fingerprint” flint from the Mons Basin, western Belgium, using the laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) technique and a multivariate statistical analysis of 87 geological samples and 39 Gravettian period chipped stone artifacts. We reappraise two hypotheses raised by previous scholars based on visual raw material identification: (1) the Gravettian occupants of Maisières-Canal supplied themselves with “black flint” from one single source; (2) the sites Rhens and Koblenz-Metternich yielded artifacts indicative of long-distance transfer of western Belgian flint into the German Rhineland, ca. 260 km from the primary source area. Our results demonstrate the validity of LA-ICP-MS data with flint and compositional data analysis for fingerprinting discrete geological formations from the Mons Basin. We suggest multiple source provisioning for Maisières-Canal. Geochemical characterization of other potential flint sources is required to validate the long-distance transfer hypothesis of western Belgian “black flint” into the German Rhineland.
Peer Review, International Redaction Board, Impact Factor
Belgium, Geology
Article first published online: 13 April 2016, DOI: 10.002/gea.21564
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