A Quantitative Approach to Neolithic Plant-working Techniques: From Assessing Tool Use to Modelling Human Dispersals
The QUANT project is designed to study the spread of the Neolithic in the Central and Western Mediterranean through an innovative and multidisciplinary approach to the stone tools used for plant harvesting and processing tasks. Neolithic colonists from the Eastern Mediterranean introduced a broad range of new plants into the European territories. Neolithic crafts and food were thus made from a diversity of plant species, through a diversity of techniques. The aim of the QUANT project is therefore to highlight different traditions in plant-working techniques, and to determine how these were disseminated across the Mediterranean during the Neolithic expansion. The combination of use-wear analysis with quantitative methods can provide insight into Neolithic plant economy. The different ways in which a plant is worked affect the traces formation process, leaving visually different use-wear marks on the used tools.
This project is designed to study the diversity of Neolithic plant-working techniques by applying Confocal Scanning Microscopy (CSM) and software designed for metrology to the analysis of polish variability. These techniques will be applied to Neolithic lithic assemblages from the Central-Western Mediterranean and, in particular, to the stone tools used for plant-working activities. This will allow us to discern the diversity of plant exploitation techniques adopted by the Neolithic groups. By integrating computational approaches, it will be possible to model the dispersal of each of the identified plant-working techniques, and thus of the Neolithic groups as they migrated across the Mediterranean.
The QUANT project will constitute the first online library of traces resulting from plant-working activities: a tangible outcome that represents the first step towards the development of an open access database of quantitative data for use-wear studies.
This research largely builds on the results previously obtained during a Fyssen Foundation research grant at the UMR 7055 PréTech of the CNRS / University Paris Nanterre (2015-2017), a post-doctoral fellowship of the Université Paris Lumières (2017-2018) and a Maison Archéologie & Ethnologie René-Ginouvès funded project “PRE-HADRIA – Le temps des moissons : l’arrivée des premières communautés d’agriculteurs en la Méditerranée centrale” (2016-2017).
- European Commission – Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions – Individual Fellowship (2018-2020)