Rockview: Archaeometric Analysis of Silicites to Reconstruct Prehistoric Raw Material Sourcing

Terradas, Xavier; Affolter, Jehanne; Hafner, Albert (2022). Rockview: Archaeometric Analysis of Silicites to Reconstruct Prehistoric Raw Material Sourcing. Quaternary international, 615, pp. 1-4. Elsevier 10.1016/j.quaint.2021.12.010

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Lithic tools made with siliceous rocks form one of the most representative categories of archaeological artefacts attributed to prehistoric societies. Hard siliceous rocks like flint are exceptionally resistant and, together with their wide geographic availability, are therefore key witnesses to prehistoric productions and the technical skills and technological knowledge that were applied to transform them into tools and utensils. In recent years, it has been considered appropriate to group these sedimentary siliceous rocks, formed by chemical, biochemical or diagenetic precipitation of SiO2, under the term of silicites (Přichystal, 2010). The geological origin of the silicites used by humans can be determined by their specific lithological and mineralogical characteristics. This information can then be used to put forward hypotheses about the mobility of humans, the distribution and exchange of mineral raw materials and products, the circulation of technical knowledge and the reconstruction of subsistence territories, among other points. This enables an approach to the technological development reached by the human groups and allows the formulation of hypotheses about the economic behaviour of prehistoric societies.

Since they are such a vital source of historical information, in the last few years, studies devoted to siliceous raw material sourcing at prehistoric sites have become increasingly common (Pereira et al., 2017). Because of this growing demand, service and analytical offers are also expanding. However, there is still no consensual analytical approach that allows archaeologists choosing the most appropriate method based on the specific problems of the exploited raw materials or the geological framework in which the studied sites are inscribed.

Given the potential transcendence of these interpretations, it was seen necessary to reach a consensus on the analytical procedures to use by confronting their technical limitations and the significance of their results. Therefore, a large number of research teams and scientific institutions met to present and discuss their respective research projects in a workshop. This took place in the University of Bern in October 2017, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The workshop was an opportunity for fruitful exchange, which led to the proposal of this special issue. Two main research traditions were brought together in this meeting. On one hand, the German-speaking world, which tends to attempt determination using conventional petrography based on thin-sections; on the other hand, the sphere of Latin languages, where research focuses on chemical analysis by applying various methods. The workshop enabled actors at the forefront of the respective lines of research to share their knowledge.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

UniBE Contributor:

Hafner, Albert


900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
900 History








Albert Hafner-Lafitte

Date Deposited:

12 Dec 2022 15:31

Last Modified:

12 Dec 2022 18:39

Publisher DOI:





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