||This thesis has been conducted within the framework of the doctoral programme in Prehistoric Archaeology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. The study focuses on the recent prehistory of the western Mediterranean region, specifically on the south-east of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. This is an area in which the Universitat Autònoma has a well-established research record. Various studies have highlighted the economical, political and social changes undergone by societies during the last millennia before the change of era. These changes include an increasing social distinction between communities and between individuals, the use of specific subsistence techniques and a proliferation of metalwork. They led both to the dismantling of previous economic systems and to the development of new production methods, which, in cases like that of the Argaric society, brought the introduction of political and economical control relationships and exploitation. The study of the economic dynamics of prehistoric societies can, and already has been, approached through the analysis of different archaeological material features. (Macro)lithic materiality provides a crucial source of information which has hardly been exploited by traditional archaeological studies, with the exception of the chipped stone industry (silex, quartzite, etc. ). In fact, many macrolithic instruments (grindingstones, hammerstones, whetstones, etc. ) were the means of production in crafts and/or everyday activities. The organisation of these activities and crafts was directly affected by the aforementioned social and economical changes. Consequently, Chapter 1 of this thesis deals with the importance of analysing macrolithic materiality from a prehistoric point of view and discusses what this analysis can reveal about the economic systems in use in the western Mediterranean from the 4th to the 1st millennia cal BC. Furthermore, this study defines the archaeological context through reference to various sites. In the Vera basin (Almer'a), the settlement of Gatas is particularly relevant. This is because it is a useful dating reference for the last three thousand years in the south¬east of the Peninsula, especially for the Argaric period. R. Risch's thesis of 1995 listed the macrolithic items found on earlier digs and this study adds more recent finds. This, therefore, completes the study of macrolithic sets of instruments used in the settlement during the periods corresponding to the Chalcolithic Age, the Argar culture, the Late Bronze Age and the Final Bronze Age. In addition to this region of Almer'a, we focus on a geographic area which, until now, had been excluded from the study of macrolithic instruments: the valley of the River Guadalent'n. There are some settlements here that were continuously occupied from the end of the Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age. Earlier studies have indicated how important the town of Lorca was in the Argaric period. For this reason, it is interesting to note the relationship between Lorca and other enclaves in the same area, such as Los Cipreses and El Barranco de la Viuda. During the Late Bronze Age, there was another settlement near Lorca, Murviedro, which has yielded a significant number of macrolithic items. These are also presented in this study. Finally, we have incorporated the lithic materials from the settlement of Son Fornés in Mallorca. This has allowed us to explore both a physical and a chronological context which is very different from that of the south-east of the Peninsula. As will be seen, what stands out in the comparison between two geographic and chronological areas is the non-linear nature of the historical development of past societies. The historical setting described above gives us a picture of complex, surplus societies within a framework of considerable social and economical change. Therefore, a paleo-economic examination of the organisation of the production process will necessarily require an evaluation of technical working conditions. Of particular interest, in this case, are those aspects relating to the efficiency of the tools employed. The functionality of these tools and their suitability to the tasks for which they were used are two aspects which are dealt with in the methodological discussion in Chapter 2. On one hand, we base the functional description of macrolithic inventories on the mechanical properties of the raw materials from which the instruments are made (Section 2. 1). To do this, it was necessary to design a test programme, using industrial machinery on which to submit stones to a series of specific conditions of wear and tear. On the other hand, the fields of application of each of the lithologies, in their role as work instruments, were defined through the analysis of archaeological and experimental marks, together with archaeological-contextual information (Section 2. 2). The results obtained using this methodological approach were integrated into the study of the selection and management of macrolithic resources (Chapter 3) to define the configuration of the raw-materials supply system. These results were also taken into account when presenting the macrolithic material from other technological perspectives, such as the manufacture, use and maintenance of work tools (Chapter 4). In this way, it is possible to obtain an approximate idea of the degree to which the economic system adapted to the optimisation of the instruments at each historical context. The spatial analysis of macrolithic materiality makes it possible to describe the productive activities performed and the composition of the technical equipment used in production units (Chapter 5). These aspects determined the productive capacity of each of the settlements and the position each one adopted in a particular economic system. Together with the contexts of production, the contexts of amortisation of macrolithic instruments obtained a certain importance during specific periods of prehistory. It is possible that materials amortised in building structures, domestic and funerary constructions, as well as those used in gravegoods, correspond to different technological patterns to those we see in operative instruments. Therefore, in Chapter 6 we contrast the criteria that rule in both types of production. Chapter 7 deals with the overall evaluation of the results obtained throughout the study of macrolithic inventories presented in this work. This chapter includes a paleo-economic interpretation of social contexts based on the economic aspects that we consider most relevant: production value, use value and production volume. These aspects help to define the level of specialisation of the work tools and of the working areas in each of the spatial-temporal contexts. They also help to determine the degree of access that the inhabitants had to the production and consumption of the products obtained from the various production areas. The objective is to identify the productivity conditions under which the production processes operated and the arguments which determined the different economic systems that were established in each period and place. Finally, in Chapter 9 we provide a synthesis of the main characteristics of the social dynamics of lithic resources and instruments in the western Mediterranean throughout recent prehistory.