Session: #216

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

NEO-JADE: New Patterns in Stone Age Exotic Stone Exploitation around the World
Worldwide, jade and jade-like minerals (including but not limited to jadeitite and nephrite) were selected for the production of ground stone tools or ornaments. Such objects were particularly valued as a mediator of entanglement: a symbolic communicator connecting people in past, present and future.Their scarcity and physical, functional and aesthetic qualities have inspired peoples to travel long distances to acquire these raw materials. This session is a search for new patterns in the exploitations of jade (and minerals with similar properties) around the world, and focuses on quarrying, exploitation, distribution, production, use, and socio-political and cultural significance in Stone Age communities.
After the pioneering exploitation stage, how does jade become integrated in prehistoric societies as a routinized practice? Does it entail the creation of special meeting places, hubs of activity, specific kinds of rituals involving specialised knowledge? Does it entail social change? Was there a preference for "jade" above minerals with similar properties? These discussions are dependent on provenance and social and archaeological context. Approaches include petrographic and geochemical analysis; and the chaîne opératoire of jade (aspects involving production, circulation, consumption, and discovery).
Although the main focus is on Europe, we also encourage comparative pespectives, from regions including Eurasia, East and Southeast Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean. This will give rise to a new proxy for the study of the emergence of prehistoric societies, and development of social and organizational complexity.
Stone Age, ground stone tools, provenance, jade, mobility, social complexity
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Ilona Bausch (Netherlands) 1,2
Lasse Sørensen (Denmark) 3
1. Kokugakuin University Museum
2. Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts & Cultures
3. National Museum of Denmark