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It's getting hot in here – Microcontextual study of a potential pit hearth at the Middle Paleolithic site of El Salt, Spain
Journal of Archaeological Science. 2020, V. 123, 105237
Fecha de publicación
By studying combustion structures, which conceal information about anthropogenic activity, we might learn about their makers. This is especially important for remote time periods like the Middle Paleolithic, whose archaeological record comprises numerous combustion structures. The majority of these are simple, flat, open hearths, although a small number of features situated in pit-like depressions have been recorded. Given that hearths built on a flat surface can result in pit-like color alteration of the underlying sediment, accurate identification of pit hearths is a crucial step prior to behavioral interpretation. Here we present a comprehensive study of a possible pit hearth from the Middle Paleolithic site of El Salt, Spain, using a microcontextual approach combining micromorphology, lipid biomarker analysis, archaeomagnetism and zooarchaeology. This pit hearth involves a true depression containing a thick plant ash deposit. It reached very high temperatures, possibly multiple burning events and long combustion times. Morphologically distinct combustion structures in a single archaeological context may indicate different functions and thus a diverse fire technology, pointing to Neanderthal behavioral variability.
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