Cordage, basketry and containers at the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary in southwest Europe. Evidence from Coves de Santa Maira (Valencian region, Spain)

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Abstract

In this study we present evidence of braided plant fibres and basketry imprints on clay recovered from Coves de Santa Maira, a Palaeolithic-Mesolithic cave site located in the Mediterranean region of Spain. The anatomical features of these organic fibre remains were identified in the archaeological material and compared with modern Stipa tenacissima (esparto grass). Based on direct dating, the fragments of esparto cord from our site are the oldest worked plant fibres in Europe. Sixty fragments of fired clay are described. The clay impressions have allowed us to discuss the making of baskets and containers. According to their attributes and their functional interpretation, we have grouped them into five types within two broad categories, hearth plates and baskets or containers. The clay pieces identified as fragments of containers with basketry impressions are less common than those of hearth plate remains and they are concentrated in the Epipalaeolithic occupation material (13.2–10.2 ka cal bp). The clay impressions from Santa Maira indicate that some fibres were treated or flattened, a preparation process that is known from historical and ethnological sources.

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Aura Tortosa, J. E., Pérez-Jordà, G., Carrión Marco, Y., Seguí Seguí, J. R., Jordá Pardo, J. F., Miret i Estruch, C., & Verdasco Cebrián, C. C. (2020, September 1). Cordage, basketry and containers at the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary in southwest Europe. Evidence from Coves de Santa Maira (Valencian region, Spain). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-019-00758-x

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