The Strength of Diversity: Macrolithic Artefacts and Productive Forces During the Chalcolithic of Southern Iberia

Marina Eguiluz Valentini, Selina Delgado Raack, Roberto Risch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Any approach to the economic organization of a society depends on our knowledge of the productive forces and relations of production involved. In archaeology, this line of research requires an analysis of the technical quality and quantity of the means of production, as well as their spatial distribution and contextualisation. Macrolithic artefacts constituted the means of production in many of the productive processes of past communities, from the Neolithic period to the end of prehistory. This article seeks to utilize macrolithic data to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the economic organisation of the Chalcolithic communities in the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula between c. 3100 and 2200 cal BC. These communities produced one of the most outstanding, but at the same time puzzling archaeological records known in later prehistory. The main aim of this exploratory approach, the first of its kind, is to determine if the different forms of occupation of the Chalcolithic, namely monumental, ditched enclosures, fortified and unfortified hill-top settlements, and simple, open settlements were distinguished by specific modes of production. This issue is crucial to the on-going debate about the meaning and relevance of the notion of social complexity in the context of Chalcolithic societies and their political organisation. Our study describes the productive forces of the Chalcolithic settlements as highly variable, both in the type of productive tasks performed and in their intensity, and such variability is not explained by aspects like geographic location, form of occupation, or monumentality. The observed wealth and productive diversity, without signs of marked social hierarchies, emerge as a characteristic feature of what can be defined as cooperative affluent societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-225
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of World Prehistory
Issue number2-4
Early online dateOct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2023


  • Chalcolithic Iberia
  • Cooperative affluent societies
  • Ditched enclosures
  • Fortified settlements
  • Macrolithic tools
  • Prehistoric economy


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