Use of decayed wood for funerary practices: Archaeobotanical analysis of funerary wooden artefacts from Prehispanic (ca. 400–1500 CE) Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain) uri icon

abstract

  • The island of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain) shows great potential for studying the wooden raw materials used by the indigenous population during the Prehispanic period based on xylological analyses from domestic and funerary contexts. This paper includes archaeobotanical data from wooden funerary artefacts recovered from several archaeological contexts of the island and deposited at El Museo Canario (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain). Our results provide pioneering data as only a few xylological and anthracological analyses have been carried out on this island. Thus, the preferential use of pinewood (Pinus canariensis) for the manufacture of most of the artefacts is suggested, although dragon tree wood (Dracaena sp.) has also been identified in some funerary boards. Wood selection criteria not focusing on healthy wood has been suggested based on a combination of the microscopic observation of fungal decay patterns and archaeoentomological data. In addition to this, morphotechnological analysis suggests extensive woodworking knowledge in a geographic context lacking metal ores. Further xylological and experimental research, including other islands of the archipelago, is needed to obtain a more comprehensive perspective of wood procurement and use during the Prehispanic period.

publication date

  • 2021
  • 2020