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Personal Adornments and Objects of Ornamentation: Two Case Studies From Hunter-Gatherer Burials in France (La Vergne) and Argentine (Arroyo Seco II)

Abstract : This article presents two case studies from totally distinct geographic sectors and cultural environments—the Arroyo Seco II cemetery, in the Pampas in Argentina (7800–6300 BP and 4800–4300 BP), and La Vergne, in the west of France dated to the Early Mesolithic (9280–9000 BP), on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. These two graveyards correspond to hunter-gatherer populations, where shells are a major component. They present ex-ceptionally well-conserved remains and were attentively and accurately excavated. Burial environments such as these, especially graves in open ground, enable us to discuss the status of decorative and ornamental objects in relation to the deceased, and their position in the tomb. Some of them contain abundant corporal personal adorn-ments, whereas others seem to correspond to the deposition of objects in highly ornate perishable materials; each of which contributes to the funerary arrangements. The comparison of such distant examples compels us to go beyond strictly local contingencies and allows us to better underline similarities. It also provides the opportunity to bring to light different types of human action on materials, including the comparison of natural entities with the shaping of raw materials. With respect to prehistoric personal adornments, this debate is reminiscent of the earlier distinction between shells (skeletal) and shellfish. Within this comparative scheme, a new example—the Germignac grave complex (6090 BP) from the early Neolithic of western France where shells are also a major com-ponent of adornments—will then highlight how the first farmers, at least in this case, erased the natural identity of certain elements.
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https://hal-univ-rennes1.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02083476
Contributor : Catherine Gorlini <>
Submitted on : Friday, March 29, 2019 - 9:44:34 AM
Last modification on : Monday, April 6, 2020 - 5:09:52 PM

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  • HAL Id : hal-02083476, version 1

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Luc Laporte, Catherine Dupont. Personal Adornments and Objects of Ornamentation: Two Case Studies From Hunter-Gatherer Burials in France (La Vergne) and Argentine (Arroyo Seco II). Paleoanthropology, Paleoanthropology Society, 2019, Special Issue: Personal Ornaments in Early Prehistory, Special Issue, pp.156-176. ⟨hal-02083476⟩

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