Taphonomic impact of prolonged combustion
on bones used as fuel

Delphine KUNTZ, François BON, Romain MENSAN

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The combustion of bones results in numerous processes whose impact on the representivity of fossil bone assemblages is increasingly well known due to the multiple experimental approaches developed over the last ten years. Recent experiments conducted with outdoor hearths have shown the consequences of prolonged combustion on bone combustion residues.

The average loss of bone mass after combustion is 65 %. The weight of the fine fraction (ashes and fragments less than 2 cm) corresponds to more than one quarter of the residual mass of the remains collected, while the mass of calcined (i.e. white) bone represents an average of 77.2 % of the residues. Finally, the residual bone mass is not correlated with the duration of use of a hearth, but with the manner in which it is maintained. These experiments thus clearly document the significant role of fire maintenance methods on the nature and form of bone residues.

To cite this article

Costamagno S., Théry-Parisot I., Kuntz D., Bon F., Mensan R., 2010 – Taphonomic Impact of Prolonged Combustion on Bones Used as Fuel, in Théry-Parisot I., Chabal L., Costamagno S., The taphonomy of Burned Organic Residues and Combustion Features in Archaeological Contexts, Proceedings of the round table, May 27-29 2008, CEPAM, P@lethnology, 2, 169-183.