Influence of Heat Treatment on the Physical Transformations of Flint Used by Neolithic Societies in the Western Mediterranean

Abstract

The Neolithic period Chassey culture in southern France from 4200 to 3500 Cal. BC developed a specialized lithic technology for flint bladelets that used a heating process as an essential part of the production. Experimental archaeology demonstrated that the heating should take place at low temperature somewhere around 250°C. To identify and quantify the physical transformations of flint at low temperature, laboratory and synchrotron experiences have been carried out on a set of heated Barremo-Bedoulian flint samples. According to our measurements, this flint consists of a nanocrystalline matrix of quartz and moganite. Evolution of mesoporous structure was observed during heat treatment. The flint transformed between 200-300°C, resulting in a reduction in the size and volume of porosity. The densification of flint is linked to changes on the nanocrystalline grain boundaries, and it is thought to have a direct impact on the improved mechanical properties from the Chassey culture lithic productions.

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Correspondence to J. Roqué-Rosell.

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Roqué-Rosell, J., Torchy, L., Roucau, C. et al. Influence of Heat Treatment on the Physical Transformations of Flint Used by Neolithic Societies in the Western Mediterranean. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1319, 902 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2011.926

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