Filed under: Spondylus studies
Aszód – Papi-földek késő neolitikus lelőhelyen feltárt kagylóékszerek származási helyének meghatározása stabilizotóp-geokémiai módszerrel [Stable isotope geochemical provenance study of shell ornaments from Aszód – Papi-földek] by Kalicz N. et al. Published in Környezet – Ember – Kultúra: A természettudományok és a régészet párbeszéde [Environment – Human – Culture: Dialogue between applied sciences and archaeology] (ed. A. Kreiter Attila, Á. Peto & B. Tugya): 317-326. Budapest: Hungarian National Museum Centre for National Cultural Heritage (2012).
Abstract: Determination of the provenance of Spondylus objects is essential for the interpretation of Late Neolithic exchange systems and the social role of shell ornaments. Stable isotope analysis was performed on ornaments (beads, bracelets) excavated at Aszod – Papi-foldek archaeological site to defi ne the source of Spondylus shells. For comparison Spondylus artefacts from Neolithic sites of Greece, modern shells from the Aegean and the Adriatic Seas, as well as fossil Spondylus and Ostrea shells from the Carpathian Basin were analysed. Oxygen isotope composition of Spondylus artefacts from Aszod ranges between -1.9 and 2.1‰ and overlaps with the isotope range of artefacts from other Neolithic sites. Modern shells both from the Aegean and the Adriatic Seas show overlapping _18O values with the Neolithic objects, therefore the Spondylus shells at Aszod can have Aegean or Adriatic origin. Based on earlier strontium isotope analysis the use of fossil Spondylus shells was excluded, however, the notion of fossil shell use has recently been emerged again. The artefacts from Aszod and the fossil oyster shells exhibit overlapping oxygen isotope values, however, the Spondylus objects retained their original aragonite material and no diagenetic calcite was detected suggesting that the studied ornaments were made of recent shells. Crystalline aragonite stripes and calcitic parts observed in the artefacts are not related to fossilisation. Considerable number of limestone beads was found among Spondylus ornaments; according to stable isotope analysis they were made of non-marine limestone probably of local origin.
The entire volume (in Hungarian) is available here.
Filed under: Spondylus studies
The ‘Parts and Wholes’ project (J C Chapman, Bisserka Gaydarska, Southampton University) is concerned with the relationship between complete objects and their fragments.
One of the case studies is the fragmentation of the Spondylus shell rings from Varna and Durankulak cemeteries.
Bracciali in conchiglia del Neolitico italiano – Distribuzione, inquadramento culturale e tecnologia. In La Neolitizzazione tra Oriente e Occidente: Proceedings of the Conference (Udine, 23-24 Settembre 2005) (ed. A. Pessina & P. Visentini): 437-446. Udine: Comune.
One of the most characteristic personal ornaments of the European Neolithic is the ring bracelet made of stone or shell. In Italy, it was employed between the Early and Middle Neolithic, that is between the middle of the 6th millennium and the second half of the 5th millennium cal. BC. Its diffusion was very wide in the Northern Italian regions over several cultural groups, but it is attested, to a lower extent, also in the Southern territories and in the islands. The paper presents the shell bracelets found in the Middle Neolithic settlement of Cala Tramontana, in the San Domino Island (Tremiti Islands), by Francesco Zorzi in the 1950s and now kept in the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale of Verona. It also considers some manufacturing remains of shell bracelets documenting a local production. Th ese data improve our knowledge of the techniques and skills employed in the manufacturing of personal ornaments during the Italian Neolithic.
Sandrine Bonnardin, 2009, La parure funéraire des premières sociétés agro-pastorales des Bassins parisien et rhénan: Rubané, Hinkelstein et Villeneuve-Saint-Germain. Paris: Société Préhistorique Française [Mémoire de la Société préhistorique française, 49].
This volume derives from Sandrine Bonnardin’s doctoral thesis “La parure funéraire du néolithique ancien en Bassins parisien et rhénan: Matériaux, techniques, fonctions et usage social” (Paris, 2004). Sandrine’s book is valuable for anyone interested in the technology and function of prehistoric ornaments, while the application of traceological analysis to the Neolithic ornaments is perhaps this study’s most important contribution.
The book’s summary translated in English:
During nearly seven centuries, whereas the Early Neolithic period progresses from the Rhenish basin to the Paris basin, the first agro-pastoral communities (Rubané, Hinkelstein, Villeneuve-Saint-Germain) will deposit in the tombs of their deceased members objects of adornment, worked according to more or less complex methods and in raw materials sometimes of very distant provenance (such as Spondylus).
These objects compose a varied adornment corpus. These jewels reflect the tastes and values of the groups which carried them. How were these objects handled? Were they used before being deposited in the tombs or can one envisage that some were produced exclusively for burial purposes? How were they worn? What was their relation to the body? Which body decorations did they form? But also, for whom were these ornaments manufactured? Where there any age-related categories/restrictions related to the ornament use? Finally, how did this corpus evolved during the Early Neolithic?
Throughout a study of the raw materials, a typological, technological and traceological analysis of the almost totality of the jewelry corpora of the Paris and Rhenish Basin, this study proposes to examine for the first time the technical, functional and social aspects of this material. The correlation of the results with the contextual data (position of the objects in relation to the skeleton, associations of objects, etc) make it possible to reconstitute the funerary “dresses” of the first peasants of the extreme West of moderate Europe. The results also highlight the expansion of the bonds which linked the Paris and the Rhenish Basin communities, while the Rubané culture is shredded to leave the place to the new cultural groups that emerged, the Hinkelstein and the Villeneuve-Saint-Germain. In the beginning of the fourth century b.C. the cultural relations have changed, and the ornaments constitute the echo of these changes.
Filed under: Spondylus studies
Alexander J. Martin (University of Pittsburg) has recently completed his PhD on the Spondylus industry of coastal Equador. His thesis (2009) and his MA (2001), the abstacts of which are posted below, are available through the Proquest digital dissertation database.
THE DOMESTIC MODE OF PRODUCTION AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIOPOLITICAL COMPLEXITY: EVIDENCE FROM THE SPONDYLUS INDUSTRY OF COASTAL ECUADOR
Alexander J. Martin
Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 2009
Archaeological evidence from the prehistoric Spondylus industry of coast of Ecuador is analyzed to clarify how the production of export items was structured and the role that it played in the development of social complexity. The reconstruction of the trajectories of social change of the prehistoric populations of the Machalilla National Park suggests that the region retained very low population numbers and very little evidence of social stratification until the end of the Regional Development Period (ca. A.D. 700). At around this time, a large population boom, increased evidence of supra-local forms settlement organization, more status distinction between settlements, and more architectural investment in elite structures suggest a marked rise in social and political complexity. These developments occurred at the same time that central Andean states began demanding locally produced Spondylus objects. Evidence for the manufacture of such items within the study area is widespread. Many models of social development propose that elite cooption of specialized craft production can serve as a useful avenue through which elites can acquire differential status and institutionalize their leadership. However, contrary to the expectations of these models, the data analyzed here suggest that craft production of sumptuary goods was an activity essentially carried out by household units for the benefit of the domestic economy. The appearance of large consumer markets of Spondylus items in the central Andes seems to have promoted local social stratification by providing the centripetal forces that pressured population nucleation and the derived managerial formations needed to permit smooth social articulation of large numbers of people residing in close proximity to one another.
THE DYNAMICS OF PRE-COLUMBIAN SPONDYLUS TRADE ACROSS THE SOUTH AMERICAN CENTRAL PACIFIC COAST (PERU, EQUADOR)
Alexander J. Martin
M.A. Thesis, Florida Atlantic University, 2001
This thesis provides an analysis of the archeological remains of Spondylus in the Central Pacific Coast of South America. The frequency of occurrence, spatial distribution and cultural context are compared both geographically and temporally to establish the reason for the trade of Spondylus, what form this exchange took, through what routes it moved, and how it evolved through time. The sample strongly supports a scenario in which Spondylus trade with Peru stayed relatively small scale and unsophisticated through most of its existence as a series of informal commercial transactions by neighboring communities. It is not until Moche V in the Moche Valley, and the subsequent Chimú occupation, that a revolution in the exploitation of this resource occurs with a sudden increase in site frequency, a proliferation of iconographic depictions, the appearance of ritual contexts, and the appearance of a state organized redistribution infrastructure (around Chan Chan).
The Spondylidae in the historical collections of the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle, Geneva, with revision of the species described by Lamarck and by Chenu, and notes on nomenclature (Bivalvia : Pectinoidea : Spondylidae). Archiv für Molluskenkunde 137 (1) : 1-73
Article by Yves Finet and Kevin Lamprell.
A pdf version of the article is kindly provided by Yves Finet.
Paper by Sergiu Haimovici pdf-availabe at
The paper deals with five Mediterranean species from Dobrogea Neo- eneolithic pre – history period. These species are: a sea shell Spondylus gaederopus, a sea fish – Sparus auratus found on the Black Sea coast and three terrestrial species: two of them better known, with a popular name – the lion and the fallow deer, and the third Equus (Asinus) hydruntinus, disappeared a few millenniums ago. All the species are nowadays considered Mediterranean. Their presence in Dobrogea in far away times was due to geographical events: the Bosfor Strait formation as a result of tectonic movements, this causing important changes in Black Sea`s characteristics and the post glacier optimum climate that extended to the north the Mediterranean climate.
Article by Anne-Marie Hocquenghem & Manuel Peña Ruiz (1994 ) La talla del material malacológico en Tumbes (Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Études Andines 23)
Filed under: Spondylus studies
Mitrou, East Lokris, Central Greece. Late Bronze Age