Dumping, sweeping and trampling:
Experimental Micromorphological Analysis
of Anthropogenically Modified Combustion Features
Christopher E. MILLER, Nicholas J. CONARD,
Paul GOLDBERG, Francesco BERNA
Six experimental fireplaces were constructed to investigate the ability of micromorphology to identify anthropogenic reworking of combustion features and to build a reference base of experimentally-derived conditions to calibrate micromorphological conditions. After burning, the fireplaces were either swept out, swept out and the material dumped, trampled, or a combination of these three. Micromorphological examination showed that these processes produce distinct characteristics readily identifiable at the microscopic scale. The application of this experiment to combustion-related features at the Paleolithic site of Hohle Fels in Germany showed that micromorphological examination of anthropogenic deposits—supported by experimental observations —provides an important context in which to evaluate other classes of artefacts.