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    Ivory Craftsmanship, Trade and SocialSignificance in the Southern Iberian

    Copper Age: The Evidence fromthe PP4-Montelirio Sector of Valencinade la Concepcin (Seville, Spain)

    LEONARDO GARCA SANJUN1, MIRIAM LUCIAEZ TRIVIO1,THOMAS X. SCHUHMACHER2, DAVID WHEATLEY3 AND ARUN BANERJEE41Department of Prehistory and Archaeology, University of Seville, Spain2Department of Prehistory and Archaeology, University Autnoma de Madrid, Spain3Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton, UK4International Centre of Ivory Studies (INCENTIVS), Johannes Gutenberg University

    Mainz, Germany

    Because of its great potential to provide data on contacts and overseas trade, ivory has aroused a greatdeal of interest since the very start of research into Iberian late prehistory. Research recently undertakenby the German Archaeological Institute in Madrid in collaboration with a number of other institutionshas provided valuable contributions to the study of ivory in the Iberian Copper Age and Early Bronze

    Age. One of the archaeological sites that is contributing the most data for analysing ivory from theCopper Age in southern Iberia is Valencina de la Concepcion (Seville), which is currently the focus of several debates on the development of social complexity. This article contributes to this line of research byproviding new, unpublished evidence and by examining the significance of ivory craftsmanship in com-mercial, social, and ideological terms. It also assesses in greater detail the prominent part played byluxury ivory items as an expression of social status and power.

    Keywords: Copper Age, Iberia, burial practices, ivory, craft specialization, trade, social complexity,radiocarbon dating, optical microscopy, Fourier transformed infrared (FTIR)-spectroscopy,elemental analysis, isotopic ratio mass spectrometry


    Because of its great potential to providedata on contacts and overseas trade, ivoryhas aroused a great deal of interest sincethe very start of research into Iberian lateprehistory. One of the first scholars tobring attention to this material was

    Estaci da Veiga, who suggested thatthere were finished items and pieces ofraw ivory imported from North Africa tobe found in southern Iberia (Da Veiga,18861891, volume 1: 26870, volume 2:212). Luis Siret, who differentiatedbetween items made from elephant andhippopotamus ivory, later put forward

    European Journal of Archaeology0 (0) 2013, 126

    European Association of Archaeologists 2013 DOI 10.1179/1461957113Y.0000000037Manuscript received 11 January 2013,accepted 27 March 2013, revised 18 February 2013

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    Egypt as the place from where finishedobjects were imported (Siret, 1913: 33).Later, Josep Calassan Serra Rfols arguedthat, since there were no substantial

    reasons for believing Egypt to be thesource of ivory found in Iberia, north-westAfrica was the main candidate (SerraRfols, 1925: 87). At around the sametime, Alfred Gtze denied a use of localfossilized ivory, because he thought it tobe too fragile and brittle (Gtze, 1925:87). Some years later, in their monumentalwork about Iberian megalithic tombs,Georg and Vera Leisner compiled a list of

    ivory objects that is still a major resourcefor research (Leisner & Leisner, 1943).Regarding the origins, Jodin (1957) andCamps (1960) connected the finds ofIberian ivory with the appearance of BellBeakers in north-west Africa a viewthat would be expanded in Harrison andGilmans (1977) now classic paper onCopper Age and Early Bronze Ageexchange networks in the western

    Mediterranean.The first modern monographic studiesof Iberian prehistoric ivory focused onIron Age objects connected to Phoeniciancolonization (Aubet Semmler, 1979, 1980,1982). Apart from occasional papersappearing in the 1980s and 1990s (Spind-ler, 1981; Fonseca Ferrandis, 1988; PoyatoHolgado & Hernando Grande, 1988;Pascual Benito, 1995), the recent boom in

    research into the significant presence ofivory objects in contexts dated to the thirdand second millennia BC has arisen fromtwo consecutive research projects carriedout by the German Archaeological Insti-tute in Madrid (undertaken between 2005and 2008, and between 2009 and 2012,respectively). These projects have providedvaluable, innovative contributions to thestudy of ivory in the Early Bronze Age

    (c. 22001500 cal BC), mainly in thesouth-east of the Iberian Peninsula(Lpez Padilla, 2006, 2009, 2012; Barciela

    Gonzlez, 2012; Liesau Von Lettow &Schuhmacher, 2012; Pascual Benito, 2012;Schuhmacher, 2012a, 2012b).

    Nonetheless, the most spectacular finds

    belong to the ivory from the Copper Age(c. 32002200 cal BC) an area in whichresearch has advanced at a remarkablepace, as shown by the publication ofseveral papers that reveal the outstandingscale and socio-economic significance ofivory-use throughout southern Iberia(Cardoso, 1995, 2003; Schuhmacher &Cardoso, 2007; Schuhmacher et al., 2009,2013a, 2013b; Valera, 2009; Cardoso &

    Schuhmacher, 2012; Liesau Von Lettow& Moreno, 2012; Schuhmacher &Banerjee, 2011, 2012; Vargas Jimnezet al., 2012 Nocete Calvo et al., 2013).The recent expansion of this field ofresearch is providing highly valuable evi-dence for investigating crucial aspects ofthe dynamics of social complexity inIberian Copper Age, including long-distance trade, craft specialization and the

    role of luxury items in the exhibition ofstatus and power.One of the archaeological sites that is

    contributing the most data for analysingivory from the Copper Age in southernIberia is Valencina de la Concepcion, awell-known settlement located near Seville(Figure 1), which is currently the focus ofseveral debates on the development ofsocial complexity. This applies in particu-

    lar to the scale of agro-pastoral andmetallurgical production, functionalspecialization, monumentality, and socialinequality (for contributions in English tothese debates, see Nocete Calvo et al.,2008; Costa Caram et al., 2010; Inacioet al., 2011; Wheatley et al., 2012; GarcaSanjun & Murillo-Barroso, 2013;Rogerio-Candelera et al., 2013). Recentstudies of Valencinas ivory have suggested

    the high degree of technical skill andspecialization achieved in the working ofthis raw material, which has been proven

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    to come from North Africa and Asia

    (Vargas Jimnez et al., 2012; NoceteCalvo et al., 2013).This article contributes to this line of

    research by providing new, unpublishedevidence and by examining the sig-nificance of ivory craftsmanship incommercial, social, and ideological terms.It also assesses in greater detail the promi-nent part played by luxury ivory items asan expression of social status and power.

    More specifically, this paper presents thestudy of several extraordinary ivory objectsfrom sector PP4-Montelirio of the Valen-cina de la Concepcin site, excavatedbetween 2007 and 2008. In this sector,134 Copper Age structures were revealed(also some Roman); sixty-one containedhuman remains and, consequently, wereclassed as funerary, while seventy-three didnot contain human remains and were

    classified as non-funerary (Mora Molinaet al., 2013). The artefacts studied herecome from structure 10042-10049, for

    which some studies on its unique contents

    have already been published, includinganalysis of the human remains (RoblesCarrasco & Daz-Zorita Bonilla, 2013: 377),an exceptional piece of amber (Murillo-Barroso & Garca Sanjun, 2013), and thered pigments (Rogerio-Candelera et al.,2013).

    Structure 10042-10049 from PP4-Montelirio is a megalithic funerary con-struction with two chambers. There is an

    access corridor with a maximum lengthof 12 m and a maximum width of0.70 m, bounded by fifty-five slate slabs(twenty-eight on the north side andtwenty-six on the south side) with anotherthirteen inside. This leads into the firstchamber, whose maximum diameter is2.57 m, and which was partially destroyedby work carried out in 1998 in this sectorof the site. The remains of four people

    were identified between the access corridorand first chamber, together with over 2000perforated beads with red pigment, four

    Figure 1. Location of Valencina de la Concepcin in the Iberian Peninsula.

    Garca Sanjun et al. Ivory craftsmanship, trade and social significance 3

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    fragments from one or two small potteryfigurines, fragments of twelve stone arrow-heads, three fragments of flint blade,several carved remains from various ivory

    objects (very broken, some decorated), aswell as two examples of marine malaco-fauna and fragments of deer antlers.

    Leading from the first chamber is asecond corridor, with a maximum lengthof 2.52 m and a maximum width of 0.51m, bounded by fifteen slate slabs (seven onthe north side and eight on the southside), joining the first chamber to asecond. The second chamber, which is

    better preserved than the first, has amaximum diameter of 2.16 m and isenclosed by twenty-three slabs. Two strati-graphic levels were found in the secondchamber.

    The lower level contained a primaryindividual burial in foetal position, lyingon the right side and the head pointing tothe corridor, which was covered in severalparts with red pigment made from cinna-

    bar (Rogerio-Candelera et al., 2013). Anunworked elephant tusk (described below)was found framing the head of this indi-vidual, who had also been furnished with aset of grave goods including a large bordealmendrado (almond-rim) plate partlycovered in red pigment, a set of twenty-three flint blades, numerous highly frag-mented ivory objects (many of themdecorated), a flint dagger blade found next

    to an amber pommel, probably from Sicily(Murillo-Barroso & Garca Sanjun,2013), and a small, morphologically unrec-ognizable, copper object.

    The upper level of this chamber wasphysically separated from the lowerdeposit by twenty-two slate slabs laid hori-zontally and had no human remains.Several objects were found here, includingfive pots, a rock crystal dagger blade, a set

    of thirty-eight flint blades and fragmentsof sixteen others, a flint arrowhead, severalivory objects (the currently studied

    examples of which are described in thisarticle), ninety beads, and an ostricheggshell.

    In total, with over fifty objects found in

    the first chamber and access corridor andabout one hundred in the second chamber(more than thirty items in the lower leveland over seventy in the upper), structure10042-10049 yielded some 150 objects, insome cases worked with foreign rawmaterials (such as the amber, cinnabar,ivory, and also the ostrich egg), which,together with the architecture of the graveand its position in respect of the others,

    suggests that the people buried hereenjoyed high social status. The twenty-twoivory objects identified from this graverepresent 56.4 per cent of the totalrecovered from sector PP4-Montelirio(thirty-nine pieces), although this countmay change increase as future restorationwork may cause this figure to change.Although tombs 1 and 2 of Perdiges(Alentejo, Portugal) represent the Chalco-

    lithic funerary structure containing themost ivory objects found in Iberia(Antonio Carlos Valera, personal com-munication), structure 10042-10049certainly held the largest quantity in termsof gross weight.

    Among the thirty-nine ivory artefactsidentified in the PP4-Montelirio sectorare bracelets, hairpins, various types ofcontainers, two elephant tusks (one

    unworked, the other with carved decora-tion), plaques, a dagger hilt and part ofwhat may be its sheath, a pair of combs orornamental combs, and remains of other,unidentifiable objects. All these objectswere found in poor condition; in addition,the excavation of some of them had to becompleted in the Museum of Sevillewhere they are currently kept. The objectsdescribed below were then subjected to

    a six-month period of conservation andrestoration that included cleaning andconsolidation, as well as laborious

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    re-assembling. Except for the raw ivorytusk, which was restored by the SevilleArchaeology Museum staff, the other fouritems described in this paper (vessel,

    carved tusk, hilt, and sheath) were treatedby Miriam Luciaez Trivio (LuciaezTrivio, 2012).)


    Unworked elephant tusk

    This exceptional piece comes from thesecond chamber in structure 10042-10049.It was found in the basal stratigraphic unit664, where a single person was buried: amale aged between 17 and 25 years(Robles Carrasco & Daz-Zorita Bonilla,2013: 377), heavily covered in redpigment (cinnabar). The tusk was foundon the eastern side of the chamber, withthe concave side facing the head of the

    skeleton, as though framing the head andseparating the body from the thresholdbetween the chamber and the corridor.

    The whole tusk weighs 1170.5 g andis approximately 5960 cm long (a moreprecise measurement is not possible dueto its fragmentary state) (Figure 2). It is

    not worked and completely undecorated,but was cut horizontally into three partssimilar in size and weight. Until now, noreferences to similar cases of complete

    unworked tusks have been published forthe Iberian Copper Age, although in thelarge megalithic constructions of Monte-lirio (Fernndez Flores & Aycart Luengo,2013) and Matarrubilla (Collantes deTern, 1969), at Valencina de la Concep-cion itself, and in one of the graves at ElKiffen (Dar Bouaza, Morocco) (Bailloud& Mieg, 1964: 17072, fig. 19) tusk seg-ments were also found as part of grave

    goods. To our knowledge, therefore, thisis the largest example of unworked rawivory ever found in Iberian late prehistory.

    Carved vessel

    This piece comes from the basal strati-graphic unit 664 in the second chamber ofstructure 10042-49, thus forming part of

    the grave goods of the male individualdescribed above. It is a cylindrical vessel,6 cm high and with an average diameterof 7.05 cm. The wall gradually thins outfrom the base (1.2 cm thick) to the edge(0.2 cm). The vessel was made from partof an elephant tusk and decorated on the

    Figure 2. Unworked elephant tusk.Photo: Miguel ngel Blanco de la Rubia.

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    outside only, in a combination of motifs:three parallel lines run horizontally aroundthe edge, while the remaining surface is

    chequered in relief, with a four-sidedpyramid on each square (Figure 3).From its shape, it seems obvious that

    this piece is a vessel or container for bothliquids and solids. Containers of this typemade of ivory, bone, or stone have beenfound at Copper Age sites of Estremaduraand Alentejo (Portugal) and Extremadura,the Guadalquivir basin and the Southeast(Spain). Ivory containers with the same

    decoration as the one described here havebeen found at the Copper Age sites ofTituaria, Praia das Mas, Vila Nova deSo Pedro and Perdiges in Portugal, aswell as in La Pijotilla, Caada Honda B,Cueva de las Ventanas, Los MillaresTomb 7 and La Sabina 96 in Spain(Schuhmacher, 2012b). One importantconsideration is, however, that the con-tainers in which the base and walls are

    made out of the same piece, like thePP4-Montelirio example described here,have only been found in Perdiges (Lago

    et al., 1998; Valera et al., 2000) and,outside Iberia, in Rouazi-Skhirat(Morocco) (Daugas, 2002; Bokbot, 2005:

    figs. 2728).

    Carved elephant tusk

    This exceptional artefact comes from stra-tigraphic unit 535 of the second chamberin structure 10042-10049, correspondingto the upper (later) deposit where nohuman remains were found. It was found

    on the right side of the chamber (northernside), as seen when entering from the cor-ridor, approximately 1.30 m from thechamber entrance and about 20 cm fromthe wall.

    It is an elephant tusk, or part of one,decorated on the outside and hollow inthe interior. At present, it is approximately30 cm long with an average diameter ofthe preserved part of 4.25 cm. It could not

    be fully reassembled, but according tophotographs from the fieldwork, the piecemay have originally been 36 or 37 cm

    Figure 3. Carved vessel: (a) exterior; (b) interior.Photo: Miguel ngel Blanco de la Rubia.

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    long. The design consists of strips inter-spersed with various decorative motifs:series of parallel lines, with chequeredstrips in relief (with a four-sided pyramidon each square) set in between. The tip,or distal end, is finished off with a globu-

    lar protuberance of a shape that resemblesan acorn (Figures 4 and 5). This pieceappears to be worked by following thenatural shape of an elephant tusk. Theinterior was hollowed out, and the outsidewas worked and decorated in the sameway as the vessel described above. Thepiece is broken at the acorn, exposingthe fact that it is completely hollow fromthe mouth, or widest part, to the tip.

    During the study, a feature appearing tobe a perforation in one side of the protu-berance was observed, which could havebeen made with a drill. However, whetherthis perforation was the result of a deliber-ate drilling or part of an accidentalcracking could not be ascertained, due tothe fracture described above. As with theprevious piece, the tusk still preserves ashiny, polished surface in some areas.

    From its shape, and in the same waythat horns are used as vessels, it may bethought that this object might have been

    Figure 4. Carved elephant tusk.Photo: Miguel ngel Blanco de la Rubia.

    Figure 5. Carved elephant tusk.Drawing: Elisabet Conlin.

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    used as a container for liquids or solids. Inaddition, if the perforation at the tip isproved, it may have been used as a drink-ing vessel (similar to a wineskin).

    In some southern Iberian Copper Agesites, objects of an approximately similarshape have been documented and inter-preted as idols or betyls. They are usuallyelongated and tapered, and are very oftenwider at one end than the other and fin-ished off either with a rounded or pointedtip, or in a ball shape (Almagro Gorbea,1973: 63). However, these similar objectsare made of stone, not ivory. Recently,

    however, a similar item, made from ahollowed out elephant tusk, was found inLa Molina (Lora de Estepa, Seville),which is about 120 km east of Valencina.This object is rather smaller and rougherthan the one from PP4-Montelirio, andthe surface is only partly decorated,although the proximal end is decoratedwith a strip of parallel cuts, and the tip iscarved in the same globular shape (Jurez

    Martn, 2010: 91).

    Carved dagger hilt

    This piece comes from stratigraphic unit535, in the upper (later) deposit in thesecond chamber of structure 10042-10049.It was found in the south side of thechamber (on the left of the entrance),

    where most of the objects in this strati-graphic unit were found, at less than 1 mfrom the chamber entrance and near thewall. Although several hypotheses wereinitially put forward to interpret this piece(amulet, idol or rod of office, amongothers), an analysis of photographs takenin the field eventually established that itwas the hilt to a rock crystal blade foundwith a clear spatial connection.

    Therefore, this piece forms a functionalwhole with the rock crystal blade andplaque described in the following section,

    which is interpreted as being part of thedagger sheath. The hilt comprises twoparts worked separately and thenassembled together: a pommel or orna-

    mental top (between 12 and 13 cm frompoint to point, 1 cm thick and about 4.5cm wide) and a hilt (8.4 cm long, 4.5 cmwide and approximately 1 cm thick)(Figures 68).

    The pommel has eight slightly conicalprojections on what is thought to be thefront side, while the rear side has fourteenperforations around the edge. The photo-graphs from the field show that at the

    side, very close to the perforations of thispommel, there was a set of perforatedbeads in a bunch, which makes us suspectthat perhaps these were also part of thedecoration for the piece and were set intothe fourteen holes. The pommel had beencarefully hollowed at the base, so that itcould be fitted to the upper part of thehilt.

    The hilt is richly decorated on both

    sides in zigzag lines carved in relief, withthe points almost touching to createrhomboid shapes, slightly raised in thecentre. The left and right edges are fin-ished in a series of three or four parallellines making a 0.5 cm border on each face.The sides are not decorated. The hilt hasa hollow at the distal end where the rockcrystal blade was inserted and held inplace.

    In southern Iberia, there are daggerhilts or ornamental tops for hilts made inivory (for example, several examples fromPerdiges Antonio Carlos Valera per-sonal communication), but they are muchsimpler, usually undecorated and none fea-tures the kind of crescent shape present inthe item studied here. At the great mega-lithic monument of Matarrubilla, which ispart of the Valencina de la Concepcion

    site, a knife handle and an object thatmight be a punch handle were found(Collantes de Tern, 1969: 58;

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    Schuhmacher, 2012b). Also worth men-

    tioning is the case of La Molinaartificial cave, where a slightly tapered

    object was found, which the excavators

    were certain was

    a handle or hilt, asit had a flint blade fitted to the

    Figure 7. Dagger hilt.Drawing: Elisabet Conlin.

    Figure 6. Dagger hilt: (a) front; (b) back.Photo: Miguel ngel Blanco de la Rubia.

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    narrowest end (Jurez Martn, 2010:91). In Perdiges, a pommel in crescentform was found, but with the crescent

    pointing the other way round than thepiece from Valencina.In fact, the archaeological record for

    Iberian or European later prehistory doesnot, so far, record any similar ivory object.The shape of the piece echoes thecrescent-shaped items represented onBronze Age stelae in southern Portugal,which normally appear hanging from theshoulders or neck of the anthropo-

    morphs. The crescent-shaped object is oneof the basic motifs of these stelae (Daz-Guardamino, 2010: 300), and shows a

    clear iconographic prominence in some ofthese, which would emphasize its symbolicvalue, perhaps as a symbol of power and/

    or social status. In some of the crescent-shaped representations on the Alentejanstelae, the object is clearly portrayed asconsisting of two parts, with a pommeland hilt, exactly like the PP4-Monteliriopiece described above. Therefore, it ispossible that the crescent-shaped objectssymbolized on the stelae represent simi-lar objects to those found in grave10042-10049. Hilts shaped in a similar

    fashion also appear in large numbers inthe rock art of the Camonica valley inItaly (Anati, 1994).

    Figure 8. Dagger hilt with rock crystal blade and with sheath.Photo: Miguel ngel Blanco de la Rubia.

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    Carved plaque or sheath

    This piece also comes from stratigraphicunit 535, from the upper (later) deposit

    in the second chamber of structure10042-10049. It was found only a fewcentimetres from the hilt described aboveand the rock crystal blade.

    It is a decorated plaque between 0.4 and0.6 cm thick, and in its current condition,is 25 cm long. Despite the extensivedamage to this item, the field photographssuggest that it would have originally beenmuch longer. The rounded end, which we

    take to be the proximal, narrows as itapproaches the opposite, or distal, end(very fragmented and incomplete). It iscarved in relief on one side only (which wetake to be the reverse) in zigzag lines

    almost touching at the points, as with thehilt decoration, but on a larger scale(Figures 9 and 10). The undecorated orobverse side is done on two levels, as the

    two lower thirds have rims on the left andright (which are thicker than the centre ofthe plaque), which must have acted as astop and support for the hilt pommel,since the arch of the pommel and theproximal end of the plaque meet exactly atthis point. On both lateral rims there areseveral V-shaped perforations (a pair ofperforations that meet inside the piece).The left side has one perfectly preserved

    and four fragmented V-shaped perfor-ations, and the right side has fourfragmented V-shaped perforations.

    This object appears to have beenextracted in a single piece. Therefore, the

    Figure 9. Carved plaque or sheath: (a) front; (b) back.Photo: Miguel ngel Blanco de la Rubia.

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    tusk must have been larger than 14 cm indiameter (which is the measurement ofthe widest part of the plaque). The manu-facturing process must have followed thesame stages as with the other pieces: a first

    rough plaque was cut, thicker than the endproduct, the surface smoothed, the designfor the decoration drawn on the surfaceand, finally, the plaque carved andpolished.

    The shape is similar to other piecesknown for the southern Iberian CopperAge, which from a lack of knowledgeof their function have been describedas sandal soles or sandal-shaped idols.

    Pieces of this type, made in bone or stone,with perforations (not V-shaped) havebeen described for Almizaraque (Almera,

    Spain) (Maicas Ramos, 2007: Figure III.74) and Alapraia (Estremadura, Portugal)(Gonalves et al., 2005: 183, 185). Thepiece from grave 12 at Los Millares(Almeria, Spain), made from Asian ivory,

    is more similar (Leisner & Leisner, 1943:25, plate 11, 20; Schuhmacher, 2012b).For the plaque under discussion, becauseof its position in relation to the dagger hiltdescribed above, and because of its shape,it seems certain that it is part of thedagger sheath or case. If this were so, thesheath would have been made in two partsfrom two different materials: on one hand,a rigid ivory plate; and on the other, a

    decayed organic material such as cloth orleather, sown to the plaque via theV-shaped perforations (Figure 11).

    Figure 10. Carved plaque or sheath.Drawing: Elisabet Conlin.

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    As part of their research project, ArunBanerjee and his Mainz University teamhave successfully analysed 130 Iberianivory objects (including twenty-six fromValencina) and seventeen from Morocco.Various analytical techniques have beenused in order to determine the raw

    material used, including measurementof the Schreger angle by opticalmicroscopy, Fourier TransformedInfrared (FTIR)-Spectroscopy, elementalanalysis and Isotopic Ratio MassSpectrometry (Banerjee et al., 2011a,2011b; Banerjee & Huth, 2012; NoceteCalvo et al., 2013).

    Following the results of the analysis(Tables 1 and 2, Figures 12 and 13), it

    has been established that all four carvedobjects from tomb 10042-10049 weremade of ivory from Asian elephant

    (Elephas maxiums) while the completeunworked tusk belongs to an Africansavannah elephant (Loxodonta africanaafricana). This is therefore the first timethat ivory from both Asian and Africanelephants has been found together in the

    same grave context.

    Radiocarbon dating

    Five ivory samples, each one obtainedfrom one of the objects described above,were sent for radiocarbon dating at theAMS facility of Friedrich-Alexander Uni-

    versity of Erlangen-Nrnberg (Germany).The results obtained (Table 3) show thatfour of the five dates are totally

    Table 1. Result of isotopic analysis: C (13C/12C isotope ratio values) and N (15N/14Nisotope ratio values)

    Sample %C %N C N

    Elf 723 10.06 2.32 19.36 17.13Elf 724 5.49 1.62 18.15 16.94Elf 725 7.65 1.97 19.13 17.47Elf 726 5.39 2.14 19.30 17.87

    Elf 766 7.61 1.43 20.80 13.25Elf 767 4.30 0.29 21.99 11.29

    Elf 768 7.71 1.42 21.10 14.01Elf 769 7.88 1.57 20.16 11.74Elf 1466 4.35 0.11 18.05 NAElf 1470 4.28 0.14 16.48 NA

    Elf 1729 4.79 0.15 20.83 NAElf 1730 5.10 0.25 20.92 NAElf 1731 3.76 0.10 16.06 NA

    The C and N values of the ivory sampleswere compared with the Standard values of archaeological samples (INCENTIVS database).According to this comparison, Elf 723, Elf 724,Elf 725 and Elf 726 (Can Martorellet) are fromAfrican savannah elephants, and the ivorysamples Elf 766, Elf 767, Elf 768, Elf 769, Elf

    1466, Elf 1470, Elf 1729, Elf 1730 and Elf 1731 (Valencina de la Concepcin) are fromAsian elephants.

    Figure 11. Idealized reconstruction of the sus-pension system for the dagger.Drawing: Miriam Luciaez Trivio.

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    incompatible with the chronological andcultural context of structure 10042-10049.According to Dr Scharf, chief technician

    of the Friedrich-Alexander University lab-oratory, all samples had very little carbonand no nitrogen. The only one that pro-vided a Copper Age date (Erl-17299) wasthat with the highest level of carbon: thissample, corresponding to the hilt, wasdated to 390574 BP (25752197 calBC 2). This date is not very consistentwith two other radiocarbon dates obtainedfrom this tomb (see discussion below).

    However, given the problematic nature ofthe samples, the date is regarded by us asnot entirely reliable.


    The five pieces described above, and the

    analytical data obtained from them,provide valuable evidence about thetechnical specialization, long-distanceexchange and ideological value of ivoryobjects in Copper Age Iberia. Prior tothis, however, the question of chronologymust be briefly addressed.

    As explained above, four of the radio-carbon dates taken from the ivory objectshave given results that do not match the

    cultural context of the tomb. The onlydate that relates to the Copper Age isErl-17299 (25752197 cal BC 2). Two

    Table 2. Analysed samples from Valencina de la Concepcin

    Sector Context Sample number Object Result

    PP4-Montelirio Structure 10.042-10.049 Elf 1466 Cylindrical box Elephas maximusPP4-Montelirio Structure 10.042-10.049 Elf 1470 Dagger Sheath Elephas maximusPP4-Montelirio Structure 10.042-10.049 Elf 1729 Dagger handle Elephas maximusPP4-Montelirio Structure 10.042-10.049 Elf 1730 Plaque Elephas maximusPP4-Montelirio Structure 10.042-10.049 Elf 1731 Drinking-horn? Elephas maximusPP4-Montelirio Structure 10.042-10.049 Elf 1064 Tusk Loxodonta a. africanaMontelirio Megalithic monument Elf 1727 Comb Loxodonta a. africanaMontelirio Megalithic monument Elf 1728 Acorn-pendant? Loxodonta a. africanaIES Pit 402 Elf 766 Production waste Elephas maximusIES Pit 402 Elf 767 Production waste Elephas maximusIES Pit 402 Elf 768 Production waste Elephas maximusIES Pit 402 Elf 769 Production waste Elephas maximus

    IES Pit 402 Elf 770 Production waste Elephas maximusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 151 Rectangular pendant Elephas maximusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 154 Tusk fragment Elephas antiquusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 448 Quadrangular bead Elephas antiquusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 449 Quadrangular bead Elephas antiquusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 153 Multiple channel bead Elephas antiquusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 153 Multiple channel bead Elephas antiquusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 450 Multiple channel bead Elephas maximusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 450 Multiple channel bead Elephas maximusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 450 Multiple channel bead Elephas maximus

    Matarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 452 Multiple channel bead Elephas maximusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 157 L-formed pendant Elephas antiquusMatarrubilla Megalithic monument Elf 444 Raw material Elephas maximusSeoro de Guzmn Tomb 5 Elf 102 Disk of raw material Elephas antiquus

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    Figure 12. FTIR spectrum (absorbance) from 1500 to 500 cm1 of sample Elf 766. This spectrum, aswell as the FTIR spectra of other samples, match the standard FTIR spectrum (FTIR database) of Elephas maximus (Asian elephant).

    Figure 13. FTIR spectrum (absorbance) in the region 1500 and 500 cm1 of sample Elf 727. Thisspectrum, as well as the FTIR spectra of other samples, match with the standard FTIR spectrum(FTIR-database) ofLoxodonta africana(African savannah elephant).

    Garca Sanjun et al. Ivory craftsmanship, trade and social significance 15

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    other radiocarbon dates were obtainedfrom the human bones identified in theante-chamber and first chamber ofstructure 10042-10049. These dates are


    2779 cal BC 2

    (CNA-1303: 4277 31 BP) and 28802629 cal BC 2(CNA-1291, 4161 34 BP), respectively,that is to say, they lie in the first part ofthe third millennium BC. This chronologyis basically coincident with that obtainedfrom the neighbouring great megalithicmonument of Montelirio. Unfortunately,the two attempts made to obtain radiocar-bon dates from samples of the bones of

    the person buried at the base level of themain chamber of structure 10042-10049have been fruitless, due to the absence ofcollagen.

    If, for the sake of the argument, thedate obtained for the ivory hilt found inthe upper level of the main chamber(25752197 cal BC 2) is taken to bereliable, and if it is assumed that the singleprimary burial at the base level of the

    second chamber is contemporary withthose in the ante-chamber and firstchamber, it would mean that the carvedtusk and the rock crystal blade with ivoryhilt and sheath were deposited at a latertime. In fact, as noted above, these itemsare separated from the person buried atthe bottom of the main chamber by 40 cmof infill.

    Nevertheless, due to the errors in the

    other dated samples, it is difficult to seethe Erl-17299 date as entirely reliable.Therefore, for the time being, the internal

    chronology of structure 10042-10049must remain a matter of speculation.

    Leaving the issue of chronology to oneside, the technical skill involved in the

    making of this collection of objects is cer-tainly outstanding. All the pieces studiedcome from elephant tusks, which were cutand carved by highly skilled artisans whogave the end products an excellent finish.Either metal saws or long, flint knivesmust have been used to cut the thick,tough tusks. Both tools are well documen-ted for the period at Valencina see, forexample, the metal saw found in the ivory

    workshop described for the IES sector(Vargas Jimnez et al., 2012; NoceteCalvo et al., 2013). Once a basic pre-formwas obtained for the final piece, the outershape was carved. The composite designwas drawn onto the almost smoothsurface, with the outlines traced in naturalpigments, such as a stick of coal or char-coal. Once the drawing was completed,each part of the decoration was carved.

    Tools used for this work could be of stone(flint knives, engraving chisels or scrapers),metal (saws, awls, chisels, or scrapers), ormade from other materials, such as shellor teeth. The surfaces of several piecesstudied display some soft, shiny areas andmay have been polished before carving.

    The sophistication of the working ofthese objects suggests that there werehighly skilled local craftspersons specializ-

    ing in ivory work. It is not easy toestablish whether this was strictly techni-cal specialization (which is to say that

    Table 3. Radiocarbon dates obtained from ivory objects from Valencina de la Concepcin

    Object Lab. ref. Date BP Calibrated date 2

    Vessel (UE 664-1) Erl-17297 2299 68 540-178 cal BCSheath (UE 535) Erl-17298 2439 58 759-403 cal BCHilt (UE 535) Erl-17299 3905 74 2575-2197 cal BCDecorated tusk (UE 535) Erl-17300 1930 57 43-221 cal ADUnworked tusk (UE 664-1) Erl-17588 2180 55 384-392 cal AD

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    they were people with technical skills onlyavailable to a small group and to which

    others had no access), or also

    socio-economic specialization, in the sense thatthey were full-time craftspersons, exemptfrom taking part in subsistence tasks, assuggested by Nocete Calvo et al. (2013).

    The second remarkable feature of thiscollection of objects is the proven foreignprovenance of the raw materials them-selves (Table 2). Grave 10042-10049 isthe only one in southern Iberia currently

    known to contain pieces of both Africanand Asian ivory. The Valencina de laConcepcion Copper Age ivory collectionshows great diversity in the origins of rawmaterials. The two objects analysed so farfrom the great megalithic monument ofMontelirio are made in ivory from Africansavannah elephant. The five fragmentsanalysed to date from the IES sectorworkshop are from Asian elephant. Of the

    twelve pieces analysed from the greatmegalithic monument of Matarrubilla, 50per cent are from Elephas antiquus and 50per cent from Asian ivory. One piece intomb 5 from the Seoro de Guzmnsector is from Elephas antiquus.

    Analytical data from other southernIberian sites also show that ivory fromseveral provenances was used throughoutthe region in the Copper Age (Table 4).

    The two pieces analysed from CuevaAntoniana (Gilena, Seville) (Rivero Galn,1988: 6870; Cruz-Aun Briones et al.,

    1991) are from savannah elephant, whileof the other two pieces from tomb 5 at

    Los Algarbes (Tarifa, Cadiz), one was ofAsian ivory and the other ofElephas anti-quus. Another five pieces have beenanalysed from Los Millares (Santa Fe deMondjar, Almera): of them, four arefrom Asian elephants and one from

    Elephas antiquus (Schuhmacher et al.,2009; Cardoso & Schuhmacher, 2012). Inaddition, the forty-nine pieces studiedfrom other regions, such as Portuguese

    Estremadura, Alentejo, and SpanishExtremadura, include African elephant(63.3 per cent), Elephas antiquus (2.0 percent), and sperm whale (34.7 per cent)1,but not Asian elephant. More recently,foreign ivory has started to be identified inCopper Age sites in central Spain, such asCamino de Yeseras (San Fernando deHenares, Madrid) and probably Humane-jos (Parla, Madrid) (Ros Mendoza &

    Liesau Von Lettow, 2011: 36567,Figures 4 and 5; Liesau Von Lettow et al.,2011).

    It is beyond dispute, therefore, thatValencina occupied an exceptional place inthe ivory trade in Western Europe in thethird millennium BC, because it was receiv-ing ivory from both African and Asianelephants. The complete unworked tusk

    Table 4. Numbers and percentages of raw material found in different regions of Iberia

    Period Region Elephasantiquus


    Loxodontaa. africana

    Sperm-whale Total

    Early Copper Age

    (c. 3200/30002500 BC)

    Guadalquivir 0 10 (66.0 %) 5 (33.0%) 0 15

    Portugal,Extremadura 1 (5.6%) 0 15 (83.3%) 2 (11.1%) 18Southeast 1 (25.0%) 4 (75.0%) 0 0 5

    Late Copper/Early BronzeAge (25001900 BC)

    Guadalquivir, Cdiz 8 (53.3%) 7 (46.7%) 0 0 15Portugal, Huelva 0 0 17 (53.1%) 15 (46.9%) 32Inner Spain 9 (90.0%) 0 1 (10.0%) 0 10Southeast 0 2 (25.0%) 6 (75.0%) 0 8

    Total 19 23 44 17 103


    We include here six items from Sobreira de Cima (Alentejo),because we understand that these belong to the end of thefourth millennium BC and form a Late Neolithic or Early Chal-colithic deposit (Valera et al., 2008).

    Garca Sanjun et al. Ivory craftsmanship, trade and social significance 17

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    from grave 10042-10049 and the materialrecord from the IES sector workshopprove that at least part of the raw materialarrived at Valencina in the rough and was

    worked, transformed, and used there, andvery likely sent out to other southernIberian regions. Hypothetically, this canbe explained by the fact that Valencina dela Concepcion was part of two differenttrading networks (Figure 14). One oper-ated on the Atlantic side, and through itAfrican ivory was transported from theAtlantic coast of Morocco to the estuariesof the Tagus and Guadalquivir rivers.

    Through a second


    route, Asian ivory reached southeast Spainand the Guadalquivir estuary (Schuhma-cher & Banerjee, 2012).

    In this sense, structure 10042-10049provides additional data demonstrating

    the participation of Valencina de laConcepcin in supra-regional (and evensupra-Iberian) trade networks of luxurycommodities (Figure 15). Apart from the

    ivory objects, this includes one amberobject of Sicilian origin (Murillo-Barroso& Garca Sanjun, 2013), cinnabarpigments from central Spain (Rogerio-Candelera et al., 2013), flint probablyimported from the Baetic mountain rangeand a north-African ostrich eggshell.Other foreign materials recently identifiedin Valencina include variscite beads fromnorthern Spain (Odriozola Lloret &

    Garca Sanjun, 2013). Altogether, this setof evidence fully confirms earlier sugges-tions about the scope of the supra-regionalexchange of commodities between North-ern Africa and Iberia as early as the thirdmillennium BC (Harrison & Gilman,

    Figure 14. Distribution map of Copper Age ivory objects: 1. Cova da Moura; 2. Zambujal; 3. Leceia;4. Palmela; 5. Anta da Herdade da Capela; 6. La Pijotilla; 7. Nora; 8. Valencina de la Concepcin;9. Cueva Antoniana (Gilena); 10. Los Millares. 11. Perdiges.Design: Thomas Schuhmacher.

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    1977), while at the same time it throwsserious doubt on the usefulness (ormeaning) of the notion of pre-colonization used in the study of thePhoenician colonization of the Early IronAge: as it turns out, there were solidtrading contacts between the eastern and

    western shores of the Mediterranean asearly as the beginning of the third millen-nium BC, long before Mycenaean andPhoenician goods started to make theirway into Iberia.

    Finally, the ideological and socialdimension of these ivory objects must benoted. In addition to the exoticism of theraw material, the sophistication of thetechniques applied and the sheer beauty of

    the finished objects leave little room todoubt that they were used and valued asluxury items in the graves of peoplebelonging to the elites of the Copper Agecommunities living across the lower Gua-dalquivir valley.

    In this respect, grave 10042-10049 isexceptional for the amount of ivory foundin it, the quality and sophistication of theitems (probably unique in Iberia), and for

    their associations with other artefacts (forexample, the association of the hilt withthe rock crystal dagger blade, or the carved

    vessel with cinnabar pigment). Grave10042-10049 as a whole contains a quan-tity of luxury objects that, in Valencina, isperhaps only surpassed by the great mega-lithic monument of Montelirio, which is amere 100 m away. In this respect, it isequally notable that there was a single

    body buried in the base level of the mainchamber, along with grave goods that wereclearly personalized a relatively rareevent in the Copper Age in which thesheer collectiveness of the burial practicesnormally makes it impossible to relategrave goods to specific individuals. Theperson buried in the base level of the mainchamber of structure 10042-10049received an exceptionally sumptuous grave

    set that included special objects, such as aflint dagger with amber pommel, a carvedivory vessel, and a complete elephant tusk.The ambiguity of the radiocarbon datingobtained makes it impossible to be surewhether the equally exceptional pieces inthe upper level of the main chamber ingrave 10042-10049 (particularly the rockcrystal dagger with ivory hilt) were gravegoods laid for the same person.

    However, generally, the connection ofthis person with the large amount of ivoryand other objects and exotic materials is

    Figure 15. Map showing the provenance of foreign objects found at Valencina de la Concepcin. The

    lines are not meant to suggest trading routes.

    Garca Sanjun et al. Ivory craftsmanship, trade and social significance 19

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    important as it may demonstrate his highsocial standing and power at leastwithin the sphere of funerary ideology.With the available data one might theorize

    that this person was a craftsman, middle-man, or merchant connected to the ivorytrade, from which he might have obtainedhis personal wealth and his social status.In this respect, there are at least twohighly interesting details. The first is thefact that the unworked tusk was alreadycut into three segments, as though readyfor carving. The second is the almost com-plete absence of metal objects in grave

    10042-10049 (only one very small copperitem of indeterminate shape) and thescarcity of metal items can be extended tothe whole of sector PP4-Montelirio. Thepower and prestige of the social elite inValencina in the Copper Age, it seems,were linked to possessing and displayingexotic paraphernalia rather than metalobjects. This suggests that the importanceand ideological significance of copper

    metallurgy in the Copper Age must be putinto perspective, something that has impli-cations when assessing the scale ofmetallurgical production, as we haveclaimed elsewhere (Costa Caram &Garca Sanjun, 2009; Costa Caramet al., 2010; Garca Sanjun & Murillo-Barroso, 2013). Overall, the evidenceobtained from grave 10042-10049 andpresented in this paper throws new light

    on a series of controversial aspects in thestudy of social complexity in the IberianCopper Age, including craft specialization,long-distance contacts and the underpin-ning nature of social organization.


    This paper has been written within the

    research project A Comparative Analysis ofSocioeconomic Dynamics in Late Prehistoryin the Central South of the Iberian

    Peninsula (fourthsecond millennia BC):The South-West (HAR2009-14360-C03-03), funded by the Spanish Ministry ofScience and Innovation. We also acknowl-

    edge the financial support of the GeneralDirectorate of Cultural Properties of theAndalusian Regional Government for therestoration and study of the ivory objectspresented in this paper. The analysis of theivory objects was financed by the GermanScience Foundation (DFG, Bonn) as part ofthe two research projects (SCHU 1539/2-2and 3-1) carried out by the German Archae-ological Institute, Madrid. We would also

    like to thank the Seville Museum of Archae-ology staff for their support and advice.


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    Leonardo Garca Sanjun is a Senior Lec-turer in Prehistory at the University of

    Seville. His research focuses on a number ofthemes, including social complexity, funer-ary practices and megalithic monumentsand landscapes in Iberian Late Prehistory,as well as archaeological survey and spatialanalysis. In recent years, he has also becomeinterested in issues such as rare rocks andexotic materials, radiocarbon chronology andcarved stelae. He currently coordinates aresearch project on the PP4-Montelirio

    sector of the great Copper Age settlementof Valencina de la Concepcin.

    Address: Department of Prehistory andArchaeology, University of Sevilla, Mariade Padilla s/n. 41004, Sevilla, Spain. E-mail: [email protected]

    Miriam Luciaez Trivio is a BasqueGovernment Pre-doctoral Research Fellow

    at the University of Seville. She has gradu-ate and Masters degrees in CulturalHeritage Conservation and Restoration, aswell as a Masters degree in Archaeology.Her research is focused on the manufac-ture, use and exchange of ivory objects inIberian Late Prehistory, and the conserva-tion/restoration of archaeological ivory.

    Address: Department of Prehistory and

    Archaeology, University of Sevilla, Mariade Padilla s/n. 41004, Sevilla, Spain.E-mail: [email protected]

    Thomas X. Schuhmacher is a Lecturer inPrehistory at the Universidad Autnomade Madrid and a Private Lecturer at theOtto-Friedrich University in Bamberg(Germany). Much of his recent work isconcerned with the working, exchange and

    consumption of ivory in prehistory,including two interdisciplinary projectsabout ivory in the Chalcolithic and Early

    Bronze Age of the Iberian Peninsula andNorth-West Africa.

    Address: Department of Prehistory andArchaeology, University Autnoma deMadrid, Carretera de Colmenar Viejo, km.15, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid (Spain).E-mail: [email protected]

    David Wheatley is a Senior Lecturer inArchaeology at the University of South-ampton whose research interests includethe later prehistory of Western Europefrom the beginnings of farming to the

    later Bronze Age and spatial approaches toarchaeology. More specifically, for Iberia,his interests have centered on the socialprehistory of southern Iberia, includingthe emergence of large nucleated settle-ments during the third millennium BC andthe archaeology of later Bronze Age stelae.

    Address: Faculty of Humanities, Universityof Southampton, Avenue Campus (High-

    field), Southampton, SO17 1BF, UnitedKingdom. E-mail: [email protected]

    Arun Banerjee was a Senior Lecturer inBiomineralogy and RAMAN andInfrared-spectroscopy at the University ofMainz for 25 years and is now a retiredmineralogist. During this period hefounded the International Centre of IvoryStudies at Mainz University. He has

    actively participated in the project Origin,Manufacture and Exchange of Ivory in theChalcolithic and Early Bronze Age of theIberian Peninsula, sponsored by the DFGGerman research foundation. Author ofseveral papers on ivory, he has recently co-edited a book on ivory and archeology.

    Address: International Centre of IvoryStudies (INCENTIVS), Johannes Guten-

    berg University Mainz, Becherweg 21, D-55099 Mainz (Germany). E-mail: [email protected]

    Garca Sanjun et al. Ivory craftsmanship, trade and social significance 25

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    Artisanat de livoire, commerce et signification sociale pendant le Chalcolithique delIbrie mridionale: les preuves du secteur PP4-Montelirio de Valencina de laConcepcin (Sville, Espagne)

    Livoire a suscit beaucoup dintrt ds le dbut des recherches sur la prhistoire ibrique rcente, celagrce son pouvoir de fournir des donnes sur les contacts et le commerce outre-mer. En collaborationavec un nombre dautres institutions, linstitut archologique allemand de Madrid a apport par le biaisde ses rcentes recherches de nombreuses contributions importantes ltude de livoire du Chalcolithiqueet du dbut de lge du Bronze ibriques. Un des sites archologiques qui a apport le plus de donnesprovenant danalyses divoire chalcolithique en Ibrie du Sud est Valencina de la Concepcin (Sville),actuellement au centre de plusieurs dbats sur le dveloppement de la complexit sociale. Cet article con-tribue significativement cet axe de recherche en prsentant de nouvelles preuves non publies et enexaminant la signification de lartisanat de livoire sur le plan commercial, social et idologique. Ilvalue galement en grand dtail le rle primordial des objets de luxe en ivoire comme une expressiondu statut social et du pouvoir. Translation by Isabelle Gerges.

    Mots-cls: Chalcolithique, Ibrie, ivoire, spcialisation de lartisanat, commerce, complexit sociale

    Elfenbeinhandwerk, Handel und soziale Signifikanz in der sdiberischenKupferzeit. Archologische Belege vom PP4-Montelirio-Sektor von Valencina de laConcepcin (Sevilla, Spanien)

    Aufgrund des groen Potentials fr Erkenntnisse zu Kontakten und Fernhandel hat Elfenbein vonBeginn der Forschung bis zur jngeren iberischen Vorgeschichtsforschung groes Interesse geweckt. NeueForschungen, die von der Abteilung Madrid des Deutschen Archologischen Institutes in Zusammenar-beit mit einigen anderen Institutionen durchgefhrt wurden, haben wertvolle Beitrge zum Studium

    von Elfenbein in der iberischen Kupferzeit und Frhbronzezeit erbracht. Einer der archologischenFundpltze, der das umfangreichste Inventar zur Analyse von kupferzeitlichem Elfenbein im sdlichenIberien erbrachte, ist Valencina de la Concepcin (Sevilla). Die Fundstelle steht derzeit im Fokusverschiedener Debatten zur Entwicklung sozialer Komplexitt. Dieser Beitrag trgt anhand neuen,unpublizierten Materials sowie der Untersuchung der Bedeutung von Elfenbeinhandwerk im kommer-ziellen, sozialen und ideologischen Sinne wesentlich zu diesem Diskurs bei. Er widmet sich weiterhindetailliert der wichtigen Rolle, die Luxusobjekten aus Elfenbein als Ausdruck von sozialem Status undMacht zukam. Translation by Heiner Schwarzberg.

    Stichworte: Kupferzeit, Iberien, Elfenbein, handwerkliche Spezialisierung, Handel, sozialeKomplexitt

    26 European Journal of Archaeology0 (0) 2013