Experimental studies of personal ornaments from the Iron Gates Mesolithic

Monica Mărgărit, Valentin Radu, Adina Boroneanț, Clive Bonsall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Personal ornaments, especially those made from the shells of marine mollusks and animal teeth, have been recovered from many Mesolithic sites across Europe. This paper reviews the evidence of personal ornaments from the Mesolithic of the Iron Gates, where such finds were identified in five sites on the Romanian bank: the cave and rock shelter sites of Climente II and Cuina Turcului, and three open-air sites—Icoana, Ostrovul Banului, and Schela Cladovei. The ornaments from these sites were made from the shells of several gastropod taxa and at least one species of dentaliid scaphopod, as well as the pharyngeal teeth of cyprinids, the teeth of several species of terrestrial mammal, fish vertebrae, and pieces of antler and bone. Particular attention is given to taxonomic identification and questions of taphonomy, provenance, selection, manufacture, and use. Experiments were conducted in which several types of ornament were replicated. Archeological and experimental pieces (at various stages of production) were examined under a microscope, to establish the durability of the beads and estimate the length of time over which they were worn. Our results show that shells of Lithoglyphus and Theodoxus sp. were simply perforated and fixed in composed adornments, as were shells of Tritia neritea in the early part of the time range. In the later Mesolithic, T. neritea shells were processed in a different way and fixed to clothing in the manner of appliqués. No technological modification of the cyprinid teeth was observed; these were sewn individually onto clothing by means of a thread coated with an adhesive substance. The other categories of personal ornament were used mainly as pendants. Experimental use-wear analysis suggests that many ornaments were used over long periods, with broken or missing pieces replaced when necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Early online date13 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Iron Gates
  • Mesolithic
  • personal ornaments
  • experiments
  • functional analysis


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