Issue: Quartz technology in Scottish prehistory

Publication Type
Abstract The project Quartz Technology in Scottish Prehistory was initiated in the year 2000, and over the following five years a large number of quartz assemblages were examined from all parts of Scotland, and from all prehistoric periods. The general aim of the project was to shed light on quartz variability, that is, to define how quartz assemblages in different periods and areas of the Scottish quartz province (the north, north-west and Highland regions of Scotland) differ. Subsequently it was attempted to explain the observed variability, focusing on factors such as chronology, territoriality, access to lithic resources, technology and activity patterns. In the larger framework, the present paper forms part of international efforts to increase awareness of archaeological quartz as an important resource. It is hoped that the research put forward in this paper may prove useful to quartz researchers in other parts of the world.
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Author Torben Bjarke Ballin
Editor Debra Barrie
Year of Publication 2008
Volume 26
ISBN 0 903903 94 3
Source DigitalBorn
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Abstract
1
The project Quartz Technology in Scottish Prehistory was initiated in the year 2000, and over the following five years a large number of quartz assemblages were examined from all parts of Scotland, and from all prehistoric periods. The general aim of the project was to shed light on quartz variability, that is, to define how quartz assemblages in different periods and areas of the Scottish quartz province (the north, north-west and Highland regions of Scotland) differ. Subsequently it was attempted to explain the observed variability, focusing on factors such as chronology, territoriality, access to lithic resources, technology and activity patterns. In the larger framework, the present paper forms part of international efforts to increase awareness of archaeological quartz as an important resource. It is hoped that the research put forward in this paper may prove useful to quartz researchers in other parts of the world.
2 - 39
This section presents the project background, methodology, research topics (raw materials, typology, technology, spatial patterns), project history and the main results of the various sub-projects which are organised chronologically from Palaeolithic through to the Iron Age. Short summaries of the Cnoc Dubh quartz quarry and burnt quartz projects are also included.
40 - 42
This section considers the history of quartz technology both internationally and within Scotland.
43 - 52
This section considers the general properties of quartz, formation of quartz sources, general geological provenance and the varieties of quartz encountered in Scottish lithic assemblages according to geological classifications (rock crystal, milky quartz, very fine-grained or 'greasy' quartz, quite fine-grained quartz and coarse-grained quartz).
53 - 62
This section considers the distribution of quartz across Shetland, the Western Isles, the Southern Hebrides, the western part of mainland Scotland and the Highlands. It appears that, in Scottish prehistory in general, quartz was mainly perceived as a utilitarian resource. The main trend in Scotland is that quartz dominates assemblages where other 'better' (more flakable) raw materials are absent or scarce, and the more abundant these other resources are, the more quartz is substituted by them, or even fully replaced (like on Islay where flint dominates completely.
63 - 74
This discussion of the technological aspects of quartz production presents Scottish quartz in terms of its operational schema as experienced through the available assemblages. It considers procurement (embedded, direct and indirect), core preparation and rejuvenation, blank production, tool production and symbolic values.
75 - 89
This section deals with the social context of quartz use in Scotland. In prehistory, quartz production was an element of active societies, and an attempt is made to use the available Scottish quartz assemblages to provide information on aspects of these societies.
90 - 92
The research into archaeological quartz has three main stages, namely: recovery of quartz artefacts and assemblages in the field; analysis of the recovered quartz finds in the laboratory; and storage of the recovered quartz. These are interconnected, in the sense that the initial choice of recovery policy defines which inference may be made at a later stage, and how detailed this inference can become, and it defines the museum storage requirements.
93
94 - 101
Torben Bjarke Ballin
The project Quartz Technology in Scottish Prehistory was initiated in the year 2000, and over the following five years a large number of quartz assemblages were examined from all parts of Scotland, and from all prehistoric periods. The general aim of the project was to shed light on quartz variability, that is, to define how quartz assemblages in different periods and areas of the Scottish quartz province (the north, north-west and Highland regions of Scotland) differ. Subsequently it was attempted to explain the observed variability, focusing on factors such as chronology, territoriality, access to lithic resources, technology and activity patterns. In the larger framework, the present paper forms part of international efforts to increase awareness of archaeological quartz as an important resource. It is hoped that the research put forward in this paper may prove useful to quartz researchers in other parts of the world.