08-2020, tome 117, 2, p. 303-331 - Juan F. GIBAJA, Berta MORELL, Araceli MARTIN-COLLIGA, F. Xavier OMS, Patricia MARTIN-RODRIGUEZ, Millán MOZOTA, Alba MASCLANS-LATORRE, Gerard REMOLINS, Francisco J. SANTOS, Stephanie DUBOSCQ, María FONTANALS-COLL, M. O

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08-2020, tome 117, 2, p. 303-331 - Juan F. GIBAJA, Berta MORELL, Araceli MARTIN-COLLIGA, F. Xavier OMS, Patricia MARTIN-RODRIGUEZ, Millán MOZOTA, Alba MASCLANS-LATORRE, Gerard REMOLINS, Francisco J. SANTOS, Stephanie DUBOSCQ, María FONTANALS-COLL, M. O

Tombes à dalles néolithiques (cistes et chambres)  du nord-est de la péninsule Ibérique :  une vision historiographique et chronologique

 

Juan F. Gibaja, Berta Morell, Araceli Martín-Cólliga, F. Xavier Oms,  Patricia Martín-Rodríguez, Millán Mozota, Alba Masclans-Latorre, Gerard Remolins,  Francisco J. Santos, Stephanie Duboscq, María Fontanals-Coll, Mónica Oliva,  Diego López-Onaindía, Niccolò Mazzucco, M. Eulàlia Subirà

 

Résumé : Les sépultures à dalles néolithiques sont connues depuis le début du xxe siècle, tout particulièrement grâce au travail débuté par J. Vilaró et poursuivi par M. Cura, J. Castany et Ll. Guerrero. Cependant, elles ont reçu de la part des archéologues moins d?€?attention que d?€?autres structures funéraires (même si elles sont souvent mentionnées dans la littérature archéologique), ce qui est surprenant. En effet, les tombes découvertes sont nombreuses, ainsi que les parallèles avec d?€?autres manifestations néolithiques contemporaines ou proches dans le temps du sud de la France, du nord de l?€?Italie ou de la Suisse.

Il s?€?est donc avéré nécessaire d?€?effectuer une série d?€?analyses pour améliorer nos connaissances à leur sujet. La faible visibilité de ces tombes (ou l?€?absence de visibilité), leur mauvais état de conservation, le manque de prospections et les dégradations dues aux remaniements des sols des zones agropastorales  dans lesquels elles se trouvent, peuvent être les causes du nombre peu élevé de découvertes réalisées ces dernières décennies.

L?€?objectif de cet article est de présenter les derniers résultats obtenus par notre équipe de chercheurs réunie autour de l?€?étude de ces tombes. Nous présenterons l?€?état de la question sur leur historiographie, ainsi que les caractéristiques qui les définissent, en partant des structures pour arriver aux personnes inhumées et au mobilier funéraire associé.

Il est important d?€?insister sur l?€?existence de nouvelles datations radiocarbone et sur les analyses statistiques effectuées, car elles nous ont permis d?€?évaluer la distribution chronologique des tombes et leur durée d?€?utilisation. Jusqu?€?à la réalisation de ce programme de datation, la chronologie des sépultures à dalles était assez incertaine en raison du nombre restreint de dates, dont certaines obtenues à partir d?€?échantillons de longue durée de vie. Ces données ont servi de trait d?€?union pour établir des liens avec d?€?autres manifestations funéraires du néolithique d?€?Europe centrale et occidentale.

 

Mots-clés : Néolithique, nord-est de la péninsule Ibérique, tombes à dalles, Solsonià, radiocarbone, analyses statistiques.

 


 

Neolithic burials built with stone slabs (stone cists and chambers) in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula: historiography, new data and chronological contextualization

 

Abstract: Even though stone slab burials are well known in archaeological literature since the beginning of the 20th century (mostly thanks to J. Vilaró, then M. Cura, J. Castany and Ll. Guerrero), they have been largely overlooked during this last decade. Even so, numerous graves have been discovered with parallels with other contemporary - or sub-contemporary- Neolithic burials in southern France, northern Italy or Switzerland.

The scarce or null visibility of the burials, their deficient state of conservation, the lack of surveying projects and the alterations caused by soil movements in agro-pastoral areas can be the reason for the few discoveries of this kind of burial during the last few years.

Neolithic communities selected specific spaces and territories to bury their dead and in particular at locations between 589 m and 747 m above sea level. They used stone slabs to build two types of tombs: (1) cistas, which are cist tombs, buried and sealed tightly by the four slabs that make up the sides and the top. They can be accessed by moving the upper slab (vertical access); (2) megalithic chambers whose fundamental difference is that they are accessed from the side (horizontal access). There is an additional 20% of graves in a poor state of preservation that could not be classified.

There is little osteological information as many of the graves were excavated several decades ago. Frequently a substantial part of the skeleton was not collected or the appropriate techniques were not used for optimal data recording. Most graves contain only one individual, occasionally two, and rarely three or more.  The majority are adult males, but due to the poor excavation procedures described above and the loss of certain remains over time, because of the changes and transfers of the archaeological material between museums, this information is unreliable.

The aim of this paper is to present the latest work carried out on the burials by a large team of scholars. We will describe the characteristics that define these burials (from the typology of the structures and buried individuals to the type of grave goods) and our analysis of these characteristics. This includes the study of the dental morphology that has allowed us to determine that the Neolithic communities of the interior of Catalonia had a greater affinity with those of southern France and perhaps even a common origin. In addition, the recent advances in biomolecular techniques (?13C and ?15N isotope analysis) have given access to information on diet, which mainly consisted of vegetables (cereals) and, in some cases, animal proteins. This contradicts the initial idea that the economy of these groups in the interior of Catalonia relied on animal husbandry.

We have made important advances in the study of the grave goods with research into the geographic origin of the raw materials used to make the bone, malacological and lithic tools and ornaments, the technical systems implemented during their preparation and the tools?€? use-wear before being deposited in the burial. The lithic raw materials are comprised of flint from south-eastern France and the Ebro Basin, variscite from the Gavà Mines and ornaments made with various marine species originating in the Mediterranean coast. This demonstrates the wide and complex network of inter-group contacts that existed at this time. As for the function of lithic and bone tools (knapped and polished), they show us that Neolithic societies had a double attitude when selecting grave goods: while some tools are unused and appear to have been prepared to be deposited ex profeso together, others were chosen among previously used tools. These objects show traces of use but were maintained in a perfect state of use. The tools include flint blades for harvesting (cutting) cereals or scraping hide, geometric unused microlithic projectiles, polished axes for wood and hide work, and bone awls for the transformation of soft materials. We still have to determine the function of the schist awls, which may have come from workshops located in the Pyrenees. From an experimental perspective, the current hypothesis is that they were probably used as projectile points.

Finally, we will present the available radiocarbon dates as well as the statistical analysis regarding their chronological distribution and duration. Before our dating program, the chronology of stone slabs burials was based on a small number of dates, some of which were obtained from "long life" samples. Today we know that this type of burial was in use for between 510 and 865 years, during the period 4230-4000 cal. BC and 3490-3180 cal. BC. This indicates that these funerary practices were largely contemporary with others in Catalonia (located in the territories near the Mediterranean coast), as well as in France, Italy and Switzerland.

Within the framework of this ongoing project, we aim to work on the more recently excavated burials (it is the case of Camp de la Bruna), as well as undertaking new analysis aimed at discovering the origin of certain tools and ornaments. Our priority will be to initiate a series of Zooms analyses to determine the species of bone used to make the numerous tools found in these graves.

 

Keywords: Neolithic, Northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, stone slabs burials, Solsonià, radiocarbon dates, statistical analysis.