Diversification of lithic raw materials used by Mesolithic inhabitants of Los Canes cave (Sierra del Cuera, Eastern Asturias, Spain), and quartz crystallite size of chert as an essential indicator parameter of its provenance
Celia Marcos, María de Uribe-Zorita, Patricia Fernández, Pedro Álvarez-Lloret, Jorge Vallejo-Llano, Pablo Arias
Two types of studies were carried out on the lithic materials found in stratigraphic unit 6 of Los Canes cave used by Mesolithic human groups: (1) quantification of the retouched and nonretouched lithic materials to determine the adaptive strategy in relation to changes in the availability and technology resources and (2) crystallographic/mineralogical characterization of the nonretouched lithic materials using the RGB (R being red, G green, and B blue) code for color, transmission polarization optical microscopy, X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, infrared and Raman spectroscopies, and total organic carbon analyses. Cluster and factorial statistical analyses were performed to establish the relationship between samples. The main conclusions extracted are as follows: (1) The mobility of the inhabitants of Los Canes cave may have been very restricted, and they used local raw materials. (2) The inhabitants of Los Canes cave used chert preferentially in the elaboration of different typologies. (3) The mineralogical and elemental compositions of the chert samples from Level 6 of Los Canes cave and those from nearby outcrops are similar. (4) The crystallite size values of the tool cherts (>1000 Å) and the almost complete absence of moganite and chalcedony indicate a high degree of maturity and could belong to the Carboniferous, the period to which the cherts of the outcrops used for comparison also belong.
lithic raw materials, organic carbon