Issue: Re-examination of the quartz artefacts from Scord of Brouster:

Subtitle a lithic assemblage from Shetland and its Neolithic context
Publication Type
Abstract In the late 1970s, a substantial quartz assemblage was recovered from the Neolithic settlement at Scord of Brouster, Shetland. At the time, bipolar technique (which is responsible for a substantial proportion of the assemblage), as well as quartz technology in general, were poorly understood, and it was not possible to fully make use of the assemblage in the interpretation of the site, the region, or the period. With our expanded understanding of bipolar approaches and quartz technology, this is now possible, and, in the present paper, the assemblage is re-examined, re-classified and re-interpreted. The quartz assemblage is used to gain a deeper insight into the site itself, and its lithic component and a first sketch of the territorial structure of Neolithic Scotland is presented.
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Author Torben Bjarke Ballin
Editor Debra Barrie
Publisher Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Year of Publication 2005
Volume 17
ISBN 0-903903-86-5
Source DigitalBorn
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Abstract
1 - 2
In the late 1970s, a substantial quartz assemblage was recovered from the Neolithic settlement at Scord of Brouster, Shetland. At the time, bipolar technique (which is responsible for a substantial proportion of the assemblage), as well as quartz technology in general, were poorly understood, and it was not possible to fully make use of the assemblage in the interpretation of the site, the region, or the period. With our expanded understanding of bipolar approaches and quartz technology, this is now possible, and, in the present paper, the assemblage is re-examined, re-classified and re-interpreted. The quartz assemblage is used to gain a deeper insight into the site itself, and its lithic component and a first sketch of the territorial structure of Neolithic Scotland is presented.
3
This section presents details of site location and a brief summary of the earlier investigation which recovered, among other items, nearly 10,000 artefacts, mainly quartz. The aims of the present analysis are also detailed. The original analysis was carried out a time when quartz technology was poorly understood.
4 - 21
The assemblage is composed of 9687 pieces and the main lithic categories are chips, flakes, indeterminate pieces, blades and microblades, cores, tools and debitage. A section on raw materials is followed by detailed accounts of cores then tools (arrowheads, knives, scrapers, piercers, notched and denticulated pieces, pieces with invasive retouch or edge retouch, a fabricator, hammerstones). The section on technology considers the acquisition of new materials, core preparation, blank preparation and secondary preparation.
22 - 31
The debitage, core and tool distribution are discussed, as well as the activities suggested by the scattering of artefacts. First the internal distribution pattern of the three houses is dealt with, followed by the distribution across the three houses. As the principles of recovery and recording of finds differ from house to house, and between layers, the author was incapable of producing standardised distribution maps. The assemblage appears homogenous, typologically and well as technologically. It includes few strictly diagnostic elements, but two leaf-shaped arrowheads suggest an early Neolithic date. The assemblage is compared with other Neolithic quartz and non-quartz assemblages from Scotland, but only finds from settlements are included in the comparison.
32
The lithic assemblage from Scord of Brouster adds valuable elements to the discussion of regionality in the Scottish Neolithic period. By comparing this collection with contemporary material from other regions of Scotland, it has been possible to define two distinctly different raw material provinces, as well as a third hybrid form. The quartz province, to the north and west, and the flint/chert province, covering the eastern, central and southern parts of the country, have been characterised as techno-complexes. A techno-complex is composed of a number of social territories between which there is usually a low degree of social interaction.
33
34 - 36
Torben Bjarke Ballin
In the late 1970s, a substantial quartz assemblage was recovered from the Neolithic settlement at Scord of Brouster, Shetland. At the time, bipolar technique (which is responsible for a substantial proportion of the assemblage), as well as quartz technology in general, were poorly understood, and it was not possible to fully make use of the assemblage in the interpretation of the site, the region, or the period. With expanded understanding of bipolar approaches and quartz technology, this is now possible, and the paper re-examines, re-classifies and re-interprets the assemblage. The quartz assemblage is used to gain a deeper insight into the site itself, and its lithic component and a first sketch of the territorial structure of Neolithic Scotland is presented.