Callaïs refers to the green stones from which the remarkable ornaments discovered in several Neolithic sites in Western Europe are made. This volume brings together the contributions of the best European specialists in callaïs, variscite and turquoise, who spoke at a symposium on this ancient gemstone held in April 2015 in Carnac.
A global perspective on ancient jade, turquoise and variscite exchange
Author: Carlos Rodríguez-Rellán
Publisher: Oxbow Books
Category: Social Science
Often along vast expanses, ancient societies traded certain commodities that were considered valuable either for functional or symbolic reasons – or, rather, a mixture of both factors. A Taste for Green addresses latest research into the acquisition of jade, turquoise or variscite, all of which share a characteristic greenish colour and an engaging appearance once they are polished in the shape of axes or assorted adornments. Papers explore how, in addition to constituting economic transactions, the transfess of these materials were also statements of social liaisons, personal capacities, and relation to places or to unseen forces. The volume centres on two study areas, Western Europe and México/Southwest US, which are far apart not just in geographical terms but also with regard to their chronology and socioeconomic features. While some North and Mesoamerican groups range from relatively complex farming societies up to state-like organisations during the 1st and 2nd millennia AD, the European counterparts are comparatively simpler polities spanning the 5th–3rd millennia BC. By contrasting the archaeological evidence from diverse areas we may gain insights into the role that production/movement of these green stones played in their respective political and ritual economies. Also, we think it useful to compare the scientific approaches applied to this question in different parts of the globe, specially Asia.