Several prehistoric in Western Europe, was a tradition of using rock crystals to make knives, arrowheads and crosses.
By using a technique called lithic reduction, the majority of prehistoric cultures produced stone tools and weapons from cryptocrystalline minerals such chert or flint, radiolarite, chalcedony, obsidian, basalt, and quartzite. Generally, this was accomplished by striking stone flakes from a nucleus (core) of material with a hammerstone or other strong hammer tool. A flintknapper is used in some procedures to reduce the core to a rough unifacial or bifacial preform, which is then further reduced using soft hammer flaking techniques or pressure flaking the edges.
Around 3000 BC, in certain regions of southern Iberia, during the Chalcolithic Copper Age, a distinctive custom for the aristocracy emerged that substituted macro-crystalline quartz, a monocrystal distinguished by its hyaline translucent aspect. The Bell Beaker culture’s peak in Iberia coincided with this time period, as did the massive expansion of megalithism and its related community burial customs.
Info – The Iberian Peninsula, or Iberia, is one of the three peninsulas of the European continent, extending into the Mediterranean Sea. The Iberian Peninsula includes the states of Spain and Portugal. Gibraltar is the southernmost part of the peninsula.
Due to the less flexible and delicate nature of the stone, employing crystal as a raw material for the manufacture of tools and weapons significantly lowers the functional usage. Rock crystals was occasionally employed as a personal amulet or charm. Stones like variscite and amber were utilized exclusively to produce body ornaments. Quartz monocrystals was used to manufacture arrowheads and micro blades.
Except for the dolmens of Lanchas I, El Corchero, and Ontiveros, where 15, 12, and 16 arrowheads, respectively, as well as the Cuesta de Los Almendrillos megalith, where 10 crystal micro-blades were collected, rock crystal weapons have mostly been discovered in small quantities in Mesolithic burial sites.
In addition to crystal arrowheads and an intricately carved ivory handle, an 8.5-inch crystal dagger was also found during excavations at the Dolmen de Montelirio. The dagger shows production, as well as symbolic meaning for vitality, magical abilities, and a connection to the ancestors.
Although the raw material was easily accessible throughout the region, the rarity of crystal weapons in their fashioned form shows that only high status people could afford to order complex items like arrowheads or dagger blades.
‘The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia‘ Photo Credit : Miguel Angel Blanco de la Rubia