Casa Montero is an ideal site for studying the labour methods of these Neolithic flint miners. This is a consequence of the site being a place where raw materials were both extracted and transformed. Funerary and settlement contexts, which are more commonly unearthed, do not provide this kind of information.
The greater part of the site’s lithic material corresponds to pieces linked to the exploitation of flint nodules. The remainder is made up of tools used in flint extraction (mallets and hammerstones) and the actually digging out of the mine shafts (picks).
The flint material extracted was tested at the surface to check its quality. Workable flint was used to make blades, i.e., long, flat laminae (complete or fractured) used to fashion sickles, knives and other tools. Some flakes were also produced, although these were the worst represented of all objects since they were transported from the mine to wherever the mining community lived.
The knapping of a nodule began by the removal of its cortex, revealing its interior. The core was then configured to produce the desired product. Knapping was thus performed in a fashion designed to achieve a set goal.
Different work strategies were employed depending on the blanks available and the final product in mind. In addition, it was observed that the same product might be made using different knapping strategies.
The lithic industry remains recovered included all the elements derived from the knapping of different products. Indeed, all the phases of a lithic operative chain were seen, from supply to product configuration through to abandonment and recycling. This favoured the study of the work processes involved in the manufacture of these stone tools.
Accumulation of lithic pieces at the surface
Photo: The Casa Montero Team.
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