Rings and axeheads of Alpine jades: imports to and exports from the Gulf of Morbihan during the 5th millennium and the beginning of the 4th millennium - NMS Research Repository
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Rings and axeheads of Alpine jades: imports to and exports from the Gulf of Morbihan during the 5th millennium and the beginning of the 4th millennium

Abstract

During the 5th millennium BC, the gulf of Morbihan played a major role in the circulation of socially-valued goods, especially those made from Alpine jades (jadeitite, omphacitite, eclogite, some serpentinites and, more rarely, nephrite), in the form of disc-rings and polished axeheads. This contribution begins with a review of the findspot contexts of these exotic objects which had circulated over hundreds of kilometers before being deposited and consecrated. It then uses a cartographic approach to demonstrate the role played by the Morbihan area in the processes of attracting, transforming and (in some cases) rejecting these precious social signifiers. In following the circulation routes of Alpine axeheads and rings, taking into account their typology and chronology, one can identify connections between Morbihan and the western Iberian Peninsula, where objects made from variscite were also involved in impressive long-distance exchanges, while the presence of 'Carnac-type' polished axeheads illustrates the diffusion of new forms of mythology that had originated in Morbihan. Finally, we shall consider jewellery made from Alpine paragonite (which visually resembles variscite) which appears not to have reached as far as Morbinhan, even though beads and pendants made from Iberian variscite were accumulated and hoarded in that region, some of them travelling onwards towards the Alps, along the routes that had veen taken by the Alpine axeheads.

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