Raw material choices and material characterization of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC pottery from the Petit-Chasseur necropolis: Insights into the megalith-erecting society of the Upper Rhône Valley, Switzerland

Delia Carloni, Branimir Šegvić, Mario Sartori, Giovanni Zanoni, Andrea Moscariello, Marie Besse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Owing to its well-preserved and long-lasting archaeological record, the necropolis of Petit-Chasseur in the Upper Rhône Valley (3100–1600 BC) showcases the economic, social, and ideological changes of 3rd and 2nd millennium BC Europe excellently. An in-depth investigation of pottery artifacts was carried out using multiple spectroscopic and microscopic techniques. Nine types of ceramic fabrics were identified based on the variety of temper and natural inclusions; however, the mineralogy and phase chemistry of the ceramic matrix showed the paste to be primarily illitic or muscovitic, irrespective of the inclusion type. Muscovitic clays were likely procured from the fluvioglacial, glaciolacustrine, colluvial, and till sediment abundantly available at higher altitudes of the Upper Rhône Valley, whereas illitic clays were acquired from pedogenized loess horizons or the Rhône River alluvium. Different raw material choices and paste preparation practices suggest distinct ceramic traditions that likely existed in the valley during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. This, along with the hypothesized provenance of the raw material, is likely in favor of various prehistoric communities gathering at the megalithic necropolis from close and distant parts of the valley using the Petit-Chasseur site as a place of assembly.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeoarchaeology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Bell Beaker
  • Early Bronze Age
  • Final Neolithic
  • Petit-Chasseur
  • pottery archaeometric analysis

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