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Ornaments from the Magdalenian burial area in El Mirón Cave (Cantabria, northern Spain). Were they grave goods?

Abstract : El Mirón Cave, located in northern Atlantic Iberia, has produced important evidence of human occupation during the Lower Magdalenian (19-17.5 cal kya). Among the finds dating to this period is that of a disturbed primary burial of an adult woman. The excavation of the small area around the burial yielded a considerable number of ornamental items (mainly shell beads), but the actual association of any of them with the interment is problematic. The results of our study of the perforated marine shells and mammal teeth suggest that the ornamental objects were not grave goods, but rather were simply artifacts present in the occupation layers in this part of the cave. The materials used to make ornaments were gathered by collecting shells along the Late Glacial shore and by hunting ungulates. The perforation techniques used were similar to those found at contemporary sites in the Franco-Cantabrian region and the appearance of various elements from the manufacturing operatory chain indicates that some of the ornaments were made at the site. It was also possible to determine that some of the shells were used—probably suspended or attached to other objects. From a functional standpoint, the ornaments probably played not only an aesthetic role, but also a symbolic one, facilitating communication and exchanges among human groups.
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Submitted on : Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 9:28:05 AM
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Igor Gutiérrez-Zugasti, David Cuenca-Solana. Ornaments from the Magdalenian burial area in El Mirón Cave (Cantabria, northern Spain). Were they grave goods?. Journal of Archaeological Science, Elsevier, 2015, 60, pp.112-124. ⟨10.1016/j.jas.2015.04.012⟩. ⟨hal-01150375⟩

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