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.
To cite this article
Miller C. E., Conard N. J., Goldberg P., Berna F., 2010 – Dumping, Sweeping and Trampling: Experimental Micromorphological Analysis of Anthropogenically Modified Combustion Features, 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, 25-37.
The alteration of Neolithic wood charcoal
from the salt spring of Poiana Slatinei
in Lunca (Neamt, Romania):
a Natural Evolution or Consequence of Exploitation Techniques?
Alexa DUFRAISSE, Dominique SORDOILLET, Olivier WELLER
Located in immediate proximity to a salt spring still in use, the site of Poiana Slatinei in Lunca (Neamt, Romania) has yielded the earliest evidence of salt production in Europe (6050-5500 BC). It contains several dozen combustion features that form a large stratified mound of ashes, charcoal and rubified sediment layers.
In 2004, a vast sondage allowed detailed stratigraphic analysis and recording of the Early Neolithic levels and the collection of soil, charcoal and ash samples with the goal of more precisely identifying the techniques, management and interactions with the natural environment associated with salt production at this site.
While the micromorphological study led to the proposition of interpretations concerning the functioning of the fireplaces and the modes of salt exploitation, an anthracological analysis revealed a high degree of alteration of the wood charcoal fragments, or even the absence of ligneous structures. In this paper, we discuss this atypical preservation of charred particles through an analytical summary of the sedimentary, post-sedimentary and technical processes (choice of fuel material, evaporation method) observed at Lunca, and which could have played a role in their alteration.
To cite this article
Dufraisse A., Sordoillet D., Weller O., 2010 – The Alteration of Neolithic Wood Charcoal from the Salt Spring of Poiana Slatinei in Lunca (Neamt, Romania): a Natural Evolution or Consequence of Exploitation Techniques?, 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, 117-127.