The Functional and Symbolic Value of Grinding Stone Tools from the Late Bandkeramik of North-Western Europe

Caroline Hamon

UMR 7041 ArScAn Protohistoire européenne, Maison de l'archéologie et de l'ethnologie, 21 allée de l'Université 92023 Nanterre cedex, France. E-mail:


The arrival of late LBK populations in north-western Europe (Hainaut, Hesbaye and the Paris Basin) was accompanied by a change in the functional and symbolic practices related to grinding stone tools. Contrary to former LBK practices, grinding tools were by this time no longer objects of long-distance exchange or circulation. Instead, they were made quasi-systematically on local sandstones of pretty high quality or on local granites on the western or southern periphery of the sedimentary Paris Basin (Normandy, Yonne).

Despite the use of these more local resources, grinding stone tools kept their symbolic value in the late LBK of western Europe. This can be seen in the manner in which individual examples were broken up, hoarded and deposited. This article locates this symbolic value in the association of grinding stones with cereal processing, with categories of people and, more broadly, with an agricultural way of life.

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