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La parure en callaïs du Néolithique européen
edited by Guirec Querré, Serge Cassen and Emmanuelle Vigier; preface by Yves Coppens. Hardback; 203x276mm; viii+634 pages; illustrated in full colour throughout. Papers in French and English. (Print RRP £130.00). 568 2019. Available both in print and Open Access. Printed ISBN 9781789692808. Epublication ISBN 9781789692815.
Book contents page
Callaïs refers to the green stones from which the remarkable ornaments discovered in several Neolithic sites in Western Europe are made. A term used at the beginning of our era by Pliny the Elder and taken up by the first archaeologists of the early 20th century during the first excavations of the large tumuli of the Carnac region (Morbihan), callaïs includes several mineral species, especially variscite and turquoise, both hydrated aluminium phosphates with a green to blue colour. Beads and pendants made of this precious material, combined with other objects such as axes made of alpine jade, fibrolite, amber or jet beads, sometimes from very distant sources, were deposited with the deceased, reflecting their high rank among the first agropastoral societies, or «sacrificed» in the form of deposits. The question of the nature and origin of these Callaïs pearls and pendants has been discussed many times during the last century by mineralogists and prehistorians. Since the first discoveries on this gem, many researches have been carried out both in the field and in the laboratory to elucidate what some had called ‘the mysteries of the callaïs’.

This volume, prefaced by Yves Coppens, Honorary Professor of the Collège de France, 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. The objective of this book is to disclose the results of the latest research relating to these jewels by scanning multiple fields: variscite geology, gemmology, Neolithic but also Roman exploitations, chemical characterization, production of objects and their diffusion, inventory, dating, place of these jewels within agropastoral societies that occupied part of Europe from the 5th to the 3rd millennium.

French Description:
La callaïs désigne les pierres vertes dont sont faites les remarquables parures découvertes dans plusieurs sites néolithiques d’Europe occidentale. Terme utilisé au début de notre ère par Pline l’Ancien et repris par les premiers archéologues du début du XXème siècle lors des premières fouilles des grands tumulus de la région de Carnac (Morbihan), la callaïs regroupe plusieurs espèces minérales, surtout la variscite et la turquoise, tous deux des phosphates d’aluminium hydratés de couleur verte à bleue. Les perles et pendeloques en cette matière précieuse, associées à d’autres objets tels que haches en jade alpin, en fibrolite, perles en ambre ou en jais, provenant de sources parfois très éloignées, étaient déposés auprès des défunts, témoignant de leur haut rang au sein des premières sociétés agropastorales, ou « sacrifiées » sous forme de dépôts. La question de la nature et de l’origine de ces perles et pendeloques en callaïs a été maintes fois abordée durant le siècle dernier par les minéralogistes et les préhistoriens. Depuis les premières découvertes sur cette gemme, de nombreuses recherches ont été menées tant sur le terrain qu’en laboratoire afin d’élucider ce que certains avaient baptisé « les mystères de la callaïs ».

Ce volume, préfacé par Yves Coppens, Professeur honoraire du Collège de France, regroupe les contributions des meilleurs spécialistes européens de la callaïs, variscite et turquoise, qui sont intervenus lors d’un colloque consacré à cette gemme ancienne qui s’est tenu en avril 2015 à Carnac. L’objectif de cet ouvrage est de divulguer le fruit des dernières recherches relatives à ces bijoux en balayant de multiples domaines : géologie de la variscite, gemmologie, exploitations néolithiques mais aussi romaines, caractérisation chimique, production des objets et leur diffusion, inventaire, datation, place de ces bijoux au sein de sociétés agropastorales qui occupaient une partie de l’Europe du 5ème au 3ème millénaire.


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