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Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 485–514 | Cite as

Polished Stone Axes in Caput Adriae from the Neolithic to the Copper Age

  • Federico BernardiniEmail author
Article

Abstract

This paper reports the results of a long-term project on the stone axes from Caput Adriae. Available data show that jade axes originating in the western Alps reached the Neolithic groups of Friuli Venezia Giulia and coastal Istria as early as the second half of the 6th millennium BC, during the Danilo/Vlaška culture. The exchange of this and other classes of lithic artefacts testifies that in this period this area was fully integrated into long-distance exchange systems that used mainly coastal routes. These systems would have continued in the 5th millennium BC, as indicated by a few oversized jade axe blades and other materials. Far from the coast, jade axes entered central Slovenia, probably reaching sites of the Sava Group of the Lengyel culture in the first half of the 5th millennium BC. In roughly the same period, shaft-hole axes made of Bohemian metabasites (BM) spread over central and southeastern Europe, crossed the Alps and reached Italy. According to different Neolithic traditions, during the 5th millennium BC Europe appears to be divided into a jade-using western area and a central-eastern BM-using one. During the 4th millennium BC, the exchange networks of Caput Adriae are increasingly influenced by the eastern Alpine and Balkan world, where the raw material sources of the main groups of shaft-hole axes are located. The association of the rocks used for axe production and copper ore suggests that the changes in raw material exploitation strategies during the Copper Age were probably related to the development of the first metallurgy.

Keywords

Caput Adriae Polished stone axes Neolithic–Copper Age Exchange systems evolution 

Notes

Acknowledgements

My thanks go to M. Montagnari Kokelj, A. Velušček and C. Tuniz for their suggestions and improvements of the manuscript. In addition, I would like to thank the colleagues of Department of Mathematics and Geosciences of Trieste University, A. Alberti, A. De Min, D. Lenaz and F. Princivalle, for the long-term fruitful collaboration for the archaeometric investigation of polished stone axes and other archaeological materials, P. Visentini for granting access to the axes collection kept in the Udine museum and M. Di Giovannantonio for her English review. The original manuscript was submitted in October 2016.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro FermiMuseo Storico della Fisica e Centro di Studi e Ricerche, ‘Enrico Fermi’RomeItaly
  2. 2.Multidisciplinary LaboratoryThe ‘Abdus Salam’ International Centre for Theoretical PhysicsTriesteItaly

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