Raman spectroscopy for the mineral identification of precolumbian lapidary products in Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe, French West Indies)

Abstract : Many archaeological sites have yielded mineral beads and pendants in the Lesser Antilles during the past decades. These special artifacts have been the basis of numerous hypothesis regarding cultural exchange networks due to their remote provenance and rarity. As Roobol & Lee already pointed out in 1976, precise greenstone attribution "could provide an estimate of inter-island trade or migration within the Greater Antilles". This statement also stands for Lesser Antilles and still remains actual especially since recent geological discoveries have renewed the knowledge about geographical distribution of natural occurrences of some symbolically used minerals/rocks. Exotic provenance of various stone artefacts is frequently underlined but with poor arguments as regard to their possible provenance and even to their precise mineralogical identification. Stylistic observations have also entered the discussion, pointing to different cultural/geographical provenances. If many sites yielded mineral beads, few of them also contains pieces of low processed raw material and could be considered as lapidary workshops, and even fewer have been studied recently. The discovery of a saladoid lapidary site in Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe, French West Indies) offered the occasion to implement a program of mineral identification through Raman spectroscopy. Analyses underline the important diversity of minerals and rocks used for making these symbolic items, including different greenstones that have proven difficult to identify by naked-eye. Raman spectroscopy, by allowing non-invasive and precise mineralogical attribution for the so called “greenstones” pendants and beads, enlarges our understanding of exotic minerals use and diffusion in the Lesser Antilles, and could help to identify potential raw material sources.
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Poster communications
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Alain Queffelec, Ludovic Bellot-Gurlet, Céline Paris, Christian Stouvenot, Pierrick Fouéré. Raman spectroscopy for the mineral identification of precolumbian lapidary products in Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe, French West Indies). 25è Réunion des Sciences de la Terre, Oct 2016, Caen, France. 2016. ⟨hal-01540452⟩



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