From microcharcoal to macrocharcoal:
Reconstruction of the “Wood Charcoal” Signature
in Paleolithic Archaeological Contexts
The wood charcoal recovered during archaeological excavations represents only a partial image of the anthracological materials initially produced by human activities. Once buried, these objects are subject to diverse post-depositional processes that fragment them. While macrocharcoals (>500 μm) can be collected one by one and recorded within a coordinate system, or can be extracted by flotation and sieving during excavation, smaller fragments, such as “mesocharcoals” (500-160 μm) and micro charcoals (<160 μm), can be isolated from the sediments only through adapted procedures. A method of extraction and quantification through image analysis has thus been developed in order to record and evaluate the significance of the elements present in the finest sedimentary fractions. Such analyses have been applied in a Paleolithic context at the Magdalenian site of Grand Abri on the coteau de La Garenne (La Garenne hillside) (Saint-Marcel, Indre, France). This work shows that the quantity of charcoal found in the very fine sedimentary fractions (500-160 μm and <160 μm) is greater than that of the macrocharcoals. These quantifications allow us to reconstruct a “charcoal signature” from the macroscopic to the microscopic scale, and thus to identify, in situ, the smallest charcoal fractions resulting from the taphonomic processes that modified the archaeological site.
To cite this article
Marquer L., 2010 – From Microcharcoal to Macrocharcoal: Reconstruction of the “wood Charcoal” Signature in Paleolithic Archaeological Contexts, 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, 109-115.
NEW LIGHT ON PALAEOLITHIC, MESOLITHIC
AND NEOLITHIC PROJECTILE WEAPON ELEMENTS
Jean-Marc PÉTILLON, Marie-Hélène DIAS-MEIRINHO, Pierre CATTELAIN, Matthieu HONEGGER, Christian NORMAND, Nicolas VALDEYRON
Stone or bone, transverse heads or points, barbs, foreshafts, harpoon heads… Projectile weapon elements are found in many forms in prehistoric sites, at least from the beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic. These artefacts first attract archaeologists with their great numbers, often dominating proportions in tool assemblages, but they are also interesting due to their clearly dynamic role in prehistoric material culture: the morphology and/or technical characteristics of many of them vary significantly through time and space, thus constituting a useful tool for archaeologists in the construction of chronologies and the definition of cultures. Researchers often integrate these variations with other types of transformations—such as ecological or economic ones—to build interpretative models of the evolution of societies.
To cite this article
Pétillon J.-M., Dias-Meirinho M.-H., Cattelain P., Honegger M., Normand C., Valdeyron N., 2009 – New Light on Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic Projectile Weapon Elements, in Pétillon J.-M., Dias-Meirinho M.-H., Cattelain P., Honegger M., Normand C., Valdeyron N., Projectile Weapon Elements from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Neolithic, Proceedings of session C83, XVth UISPP World Congress, Lisbon, September 4-9, 2006, P@lethnology, 1, 1-5.