Investigating beads from Chalcolithic funerary cremation contexts of Perdigões, Portugal

M. I. Dias, Z. Kasztovszky, M. I. Prudêncio, I. Harsányi, I. Kovács, Z. Szőkefalvi-Nagy, J. Mihály, G. Káli, A. C. Valera, A. L. Rodrigues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

A set of beads was studied to investigate their nature. They come from a funerary feature used for the secondary deposition of cremated remains of more than a hundred individuals. The pit is located in the centre of Perdigões (Évora, Portugal) ditched enclosures (Valera et al., 2014a) and is dated from the third quarter of the 3rd millennium BC. The beads were also burned and were part of the funerary votive assemblages, also composed by arrowheads ivory figurines, marble idols and pots, phalanx idols, copper awls, Pecten shells and pottery sherds. These beads have a diameter between 5 and 10.5 mm, with a central perforation up to 5 mm and maximum thickness of 3 mm, they are dark grey or black and were of unknown nature. This study shows that these beads were made from shells and submitted to heating processes. The study demonstrates the ability of neutron and X-ray methods to determine the nature of the material even being very calcium rich. Chemical results show that they have high contents of calcium, and that the surface is more contaminated with soil particles due to high Si, Fe and K contents, and phosphorous was found in higher proportion, certainly originated from the bones. FTIR patterns show that the major part of the beads is calcium carbonate crystallized in calcite form, contaminated with silicates and calcium phosphate, pointing to shells as raw materials. The ToF-ND results also indicate the crystal lattice structure of calcite, and aragonite, a polymorph formed in the biomineralisation process of shells, was not detected, indicating a total phase transformation to calcite probably due to heating processes during funerary practices. The SEM-EDS results confirm the shell nature of beads. The results were of wider significance for the archaeological discussion, especially deciphering the nature of the beads, contributing to the debate of interaction in the Chalcolithic of Southern Iberia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-442
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2018

Fingerprint

Portugal
heat pump
raw materials
ability
interaction
Beads
Cremation
Chalcolithic
Shell
Calcium
Calcite

Keywords

  • Beads
  • Chalcolithic
  • Neutron methods
  • Shells
  • X-ray methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

Cite this

Dias, M. I., Kasztovszky, Z., Prudêncio, M. I., Harsányi, I., Kovács, I., Szőkefalvi-Nagy, Z., ... Rodrigues, A. L. (2018). Investigating beads from Chalcolithic funerary cremation contexts of Perdigões, Portugal. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 20, 434-442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.05.030

Investigating beads from Chalcolithic funerary cremation contexts of Perdigões, Portugal. / Dias, M. I.; Kasztovszky, Z.; Prudêncio, M. I.; Harsányi, I.; Kovács, I.; Szőkefalvi-Nagy, Z.; Mihály, J.; Káli, G.; Valera, A. C.; Rodrigues, A. L.

In: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Vol. 20, 01.08.2018, p. 434-442.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dias, MI, Kasztovszky, Z, Prudêncio, MI, Harsányi, I, Kovács, I, Szőkefalvi-Nagy, Z, Mihály, J, Káli, G, Valera, AC & Rodrigues, AL 2018, 'Investigating beads from Chalcolithic funerary cremation contexts of Perdigões, Portugal', Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 20, pp. 434-442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.05.030
Dias, M. I. ; Kasztovszky, Z. ; Prudêncio, M. I. ; Harsányi, I. ; Kovács, I. ; Szőkefalvi-Nagy, Z. ; Mihály, J. ; Káli, G. ; Valera, A. C. ; Rodrigues, A. L. / Investigating beads from Chalcolithic funerary cremation contexts of Perdigões, Portugal. In: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. 2018 ; Vol. 20. pp. 434-442.
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