Sous la direction de J. Graefe et C. Hamon
Archäologische Berichte, n° 23
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ur- und Früh-Geschichte
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Since the time of the first neolithics, cereals were grounded to flour by querns. Together with the domestication and breeding of animals, the cultivation and processing of plants was one of the basis of the new agrarian way of life. However, the concrete exploration of the basic aspects of cereals processing has only emerged in the last fifteen years. The multiplication of studies at a more or less regional scale has purchased new data concerning the circulation of raw materials, the status of the sites and the economy of subsistance. Today, the study of grindingtools contributes largely to our knowlege of neolithic economy and social organization. This session aims at sharing and discussing the new perspectives of such studies on neolithic grindingtools from all over Europe.
The available studies generally integrate a global survey of the grindingtool aspects and their context of discovery (settlements, pits, cemeteries, hoards, etc...). The purchasing and use of raw materials, the form and size of the tools, their technological and even functional characteristics are now better, yet unequally, documented. Despite a large range of local resources (sandstones, basalts, granites, limestones), some rocks were chosen on purpose for grinding activities. Therefore, in some cases the material from other regions was imported. The reasons of these importations may be diverse : cultural, economic, symbolic, etc...
The technological and functional studies of such tools have stressed the surprising complexity of the cycles of reuse and a real diversity in the grinding tasks. New tools and methods of functional identification have been developed in order to make querns speak. The technics of grinding cereals, in terms of gesture and efficiency, have benefited from solid ethnographic comparisons and experimental references. Moreover, the comparisons of the tools and environemental data can help understand the evolution of the grinding technics together with the diet of neolithic populations. Besides, the grinding of diverse plants, of temper or of colourings on neolithic european sites is now admitted and the role of grindingtools in the technical system is more clearly defined.
Recent studies reveal that the status of neolithic querns is not only profane, reduced to domestic use in the households, but also ritual. Querns are often found in funeral ceremonies such as in the Linearbandkeramik cemeteries of central Europe, or in ritual contexts such as the hoards of northwestern Europe. A real symbolic seems associated to querns, probably in link with their connection with the diet and the new agricultural economical and social order.
Within this international meeting the uncomplete state of the research on the topic should be discussed. Furthermore, a basis for future research strategies should be developed. Based on querns of the early neolithic, differences in terminology should be pointed out if not clarified. The technological development and function of neolithic querns should also be discussed considering the archeological context. The length and intensity of use of the querns (one generation, one house’s life), the localization of the grinding activities (household or collective grinding areas) as well as the supply of raw material should be investigated by a diachronic comparison including the Early Bronze Age.
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