2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


FADEM, Cynthia M.1, SMITH, Jennifer R.1, FRIEDMAN, Jessica L.1, MOORE, Andrew2 and MENDJUSIC, Marko3, (1)Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington Univ in St Louis, Campus Box 1169, One Brookings Drive, St Louis, MO 63130, (2)College of Liberal Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology, 90 Lomb Memorial Dr, Rochester, NY 14623, (3)Department of Cultural Heritage Protection, Ministry of Culture, Stube J. Culinovica 1, Sibenik, 22000, Croatia, cfadem@wustl.edu

Investigation of the Danilo Bitinj site is an interdisciplinary paleoenvironmental study at the type-site for the Neolithic Danilo phase of southeastern Europe. Danilo Bitinj lies at the center of Danilo Polje (a flat-bottomed, elongate depression) in the well-developed Karst terrain of coastal Croatia. Dalmatia's unique polje karst consists of fields of NW-SE trending valleys containing thick deposits of colluvial, lacustrine, alluvial, and aeolian material. These deposits form productive soils used agriculturally since Neolithic times. The xeric moisture regime of the Mediterranean, combined with a predominance of fine-grained sediment provides that soils retain sufficient moisture for plant growth throughout the year. Site soils are Xerolls with fine texture and well-developed structure. Site sediments contain two cultural deposits separated by relatively sterile fine-grained material. These deposits consist of Danilo phase artifacts including ceramics, lithics, and floral and faunal remains. Curiously, the soils contain particles as large as cobbles, though the site's current topographic position suggests that transport of such large material would require entrainment via extremely high-viscosity or high-velocity flow. Although site deposits were certainly modified by human activity on many scales, these coarse clasts are ubiquitous in polje soils, as indicated by valley-wide soil survey. We are currently modeling local hydrology and geomorphology using topographic survey (with DGPS and laser rangefinder) and well-height mapping to test hypotheses of flooding, mass-wasting, and slope instability. These GIS-based models place constraints on the conditions necessary to destabilize hillslopes, and enable us to identify the probable response of surficial processes to hillslope devegetation and retaining wall construction. Analysis of soil biophysical properties is also underway. This analysis will inform interpretation of site formation processes and environmental conditions during human occupation. Due to the fact that Danilo Polje has been occupied at least intermittently from the Neolithic to the present, understanding site taphonomy will be critical to archaeological interpretation.