The Neolithic greenstone industry of Chiomonte (northwestern Italy): mineralogy, petrography and archaeometric implications

Giustetto, Roberto; Padovan, Stefania; Barale, Luca; Compagnoni, Roberto

The polished stone industry of Chiomonte (Piedmont region, northwestern Italy), dating back to the middle to late Neolithic, has been studied with a multi-analytical approach, including mineralogical, petrographic and morpho-typological issues, with the aim of providing information about the sources of the raw materials and determining the function of this particular settlement in the prehistoric Western Alps. Most of the lithic tools are made of sensu stricto greenstones (i.e. “Na pyroxene rocks” and “Na pyroxene and garnet rocks”), though a large number of serpentinite tools (25 %) also exist. The combined application of X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD), polarising microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (SEM-EDS) led to the detection of specific mineral and chemical “markers”, pointing to the Chiomonte tools likely having come from the Monviso area. However, other closer supply sources, e.g. small meta-ophiolite units in the Orsiera–Rocciavré mountain range or in the lower Susa valley, cannot be ruled out. The presence, on the many retrieved roughouts and broken tools, of raw, yet unpolished surfaces that are ascribable to pebbles and cobbles from alluvial or glacial deposits, suggests that these rocks had been picked up from local “secondary” sources. The abundance of roughouts and broken tools identifies Chiomonte as a second-order manufacturing site, although it is still unclear whether such an activity was restricted to serving local needs or if it contributed to the circulation of greenstone implements on a wider scale.

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Giustetto, Roberto / Padovan, Stefania / Barale, Luca / et al: The Neolithic greenstone industry of Chiomonte (northwestern Italy): mineralogy, petrography and archaeometric implications. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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