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Colouring materials in technical and symbolical systems during Neolithic in Liguro-provençal area





The aim of this research was to determine the “chaînes opératoires” of colouring materials in the north-western Mediterranean region during the Early and Middle Neolithic and to integrate them in chrono-cultural framework. Two major archaeological sites were selected: Castellar – Pendimoun rock-shelter (5750-4900 cal. BCE) and Nice – Giribaldi, an open-air site (4550-4050 cal. BCE).The techno-economic analysis reveals contrasting situations. At Pendimoun, three local colouring materials, presenting various physic-chemical properties, were used during the VI millennium BCE. They were processed identically according to simple schemes in order to provide a wide range of products: goethite or hematite, in quantities for utilitarian needs or in fine powder for colouring purposes.Giribaldi witnessed a dichotomous management. Some local geomaterials were crafted such as the ones in Pendimoun but exogenous rocks were also specifically processed depending on their cohesion. Furthermore, this overview is not diachronically uniform as bauxites progressively replaced other raw materials in Early Chassey stages.Last, several symbolical aspects have been highlighted and characterized. A calcareous block was carved and painted in red- and yellowed to portray an anthropomorphic “mask”. The colour red is associated with funeral activities. Starting at the SMP phases, the main use of color is aimed at the coloring of ceramics, the latter probably dedicated to specific social activities as suggested by the technical investment involved: red powder incrustation in ceramic (Pendimoun) and then by white powder incrustation in engraved decor, black and red painting (Giribaldi).

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