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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Ms Maryline Lambert

(email at maryline.lambert@durham.ac.uk)

Education

MA (Distinction) Archaeological Research (archaeological materials) Nottingham University.
BSc (Anthropology), Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Research Topic

The use and circulation of iron oxide-rich artefacts in Prehistoric Corsica: An archaeometric assessment

Abstract

Corsica is an excellent example of insular archaeological environment at the heart of evolutive cultural dynamics during Late Prehistory in the Western Central Mediterannean area. It has received considerable attention following the recent recognition of new markers of influence with the neighbouring island of Sardinia and Tuscany, and of its role within prehistoric exchange networks.

Amongst the important identity markers for the insular people throughout late Prehistory is the usage of red pigments in a large variety of contexts from the Mesolithic to the Iron Age. In the seventies, Roger Grosjean, a pionner in Corsican archaeology, was the first to bring to light that haematite-bearing materials seemed to have played an important role within Bronze Age societies.

The body of remains consists in a large number of iron-rich lithic blocks, the majority of which bear processing traces. Other important testimonies include rare sherds of painted Neolithic vessels as well as ochered Mesolithic humain remains.

However, the question of the nature and provenance of the pigmenting materials has been much overlooked. While it is well known that an extra-insular lithic procurement was in place for flint and obsidian, no directly attributable source of haematite is currently known. Traditionally, the iron deposits of Eastern Elba represent a privileged source given the high quality of its ore and the fact that is known to have been exploited at least since the 1st Millennium B.C.

Following recent geological prospections in Corsica, Sardinia and Elba, we aim to provide a solid characterisation of the geochemistry and mineralogy of both archaeological and geological samples. We employ a multi-technique approach combining elemental analysis (SEM-EDX, XRF, ICP-MS, PIXE) and structural examination (petrography, XRD, Raman and infrared spectrometry) in the objective of discriminating compatible sources for the procurement. The diachronic variation of the supply strategy throughout Late Prehistory is also made possible through these investigations.

Finally, the use-wear traces at the surface of the artefacts are examined using 3D microscopy in combination with experimental work to highlight the multiple usages attributed to iron-oxide rich blocks by prehistoric corsican communities.

Peer-reviewed contributions

Lambert M., Skeates R., Le Bourdonnec F.-X., Dubernet S., Peche-Quilichini K., Paolini-Saez H., Milanini J.-L., Lefrais Y. (2017) ‒ Iron oxide artefacts in late prehistoric Corsica: Towards a physico-chemical characterisation, in T. Pereira, X. Terradas and N. Bicho (eds), The Exploitation of Raw Materials in Prehistory: Sourcing, Processing and Distribution, Faro 2016, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 572–586.

Lambert M., Skeates R., Le Bourdonnec F.-X., Dubernet S., Peche-Quilichini K., Paolini-Saez H., Milanini, J.-L., Lefrais, Y. (2019) – Oxydes de fer en Corse protohistorique: Caractérisation et enjeux de provenance, in H. Paolini-Saez and P. Comiti (eds), Comptes-rendus de la conférence “6 millénaires en Balagne”, 3e colloque du Laboratoire de Recherche Archéologique de Corse, Octobre 2016, Belgodère 2017, Cahiers Corsica.

Paolini-Saez H., Ameziane-Federzoni N., Arobba D., Comiti P., Jamai-Chipon A., Lambert M., Lechenault M., Le Flecher T., Marcel M., Peche-Quilichini, K. Villat X. (2019) – L'occupation protohistorique d'I Casteddi de Tavera (Corse-du-Sud), in H. Paolini-Saez and P. Comiti (eds), Comptes-rendus de la conférence “6 millénaires en Balagne”, 3e colloque du Laboratoire de Recherche Archéologique de Corse, Octobre 2016, Belgodère 2017, Cahiers Corsica.

Pêche-Quilichini, K., Lambert, M., Delvaux, S., Mayca, J., Martin, L., Biancifiori, E., Sagripanti L., Sartini, E. (2015) – Cuciurpula, Serra-di-Scopamena/Sorbollano (Corse-du-sud) nuovi dati sull’insediamento protostorico (campagna 2012), in V. di Cola and F. Pitzalis (eds), Materiali per Populonia, 11, pp. 367-408.

Presentations

Composition and uses of reddish processed stones from Corsican prehistory, 22nd archaeometry colloquium of the GMPCA, Montreal (Canada), May 2019.

Évaluation archéométrique des matières pigmentaires minérales utilisées en Corse en contexte sépulcral durant la Préhistoire récente, 2nd colloquium of the ARPPCSépultures et Rites Funéraires”, Calvi (France), April 2019.

Geochemical and metrological characterisation of iron-oxide artefacts from Late Prehistoric Corsica,  Central Mediterranean Prehistory day, Durham, May 2017.

Geochemical and metrological study of iron-oxide rich artefacts from Protohistoric Corsica, (Poster), 21st archaeometry colloquium of the GMPCA, Rennes (France), April 2017.

Les matériaux à base d'oxyde de fer en Corse-du-Sud, révélateurs d'un artisanat sous estimé, 3rd colloquium of the Laboratoire régional d’archéologie “Six millénaires en Balagne”, Belgodère (France), October 2016.

Iron oxide artefacts in late prehistoric Corsica: Towards a physico-chemical characterisation (Poster), Raw materials exploitation in Prehistory : Sourcing, processing and distribution. Faro (Portugal). March 2016.

Awards

2019: Conference grant from the Prehistoric Society £250.

October 2018 and February 2019: AGLAE beam time access grants (Louvre, Paris).

February 2019: 4 days of beamtime granted for the project “Trace element and alteration assessment of iron‑oxide rich artefacts in Prehistoric Corsica” at the AGLAE facilities (Louvre Museum, France), IPERION CH.

October 2018: 3 days of beamtime granted for the project “Trace element assessment of iron-oxide rich artefacts from prehistoric Corsica” at the AGLAE facilities (Louvre Museum, France), IPERION CH.

June 2017: Research allocation, DRAC-Associu Cuciurpula: 2000€.

December 2016: Visiting PhD researcher at Université Bordeaux Montaigne, funded through their Politique Scientifique d’Établissement (PSE).

2016: Van Mildert College Travel Bursary £200, Rosemary Cramp fund £200.

Autumn 2015: Erasmus+ funded exchange at the CRP2A archaeometry laboratory, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France.

2015: Recipient of the “Medaille d'honneur” from the Accademia Corsa de Nizza for the MA thesis: “Iron oxides in the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age at Cuciurpula, South Corsica : Mineralogical characterisation and discussion of their usages” (2015).

Project Partners

Direction régionale des affaires culturelles (DRAC) and Service régional d’archéologie de Corse (SRA), Associu Cuciurpula, Musée départemental de préhistoire corse et d'archéologie de Sartène, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, Northumbria University (Newcastle).