Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM
ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORDS PRESERVED IN CAVE ENVIRONMENTS
Cave environments host a wide variety of geological processes and records of past human activities. Depositional inputs encompass endokarstic deposits of silt/clay/gravel, roof collapse, allochthonous accumulations of aqueous and aeolian material, and chemical precipitates . They also document diagenetic transformations of carbonates, sulfates, and phosphates among others. Hominins are key depositional agents of a variety of materials, such as stone tools, bones, organic remains associated with fires (charcoal and ashes) and plants (both as food and as bedding). They also preserve specific past activities, including trampling, discard and dumping of material, digging, and floor preparation. Whereas a number of analytical approaches have been used, soil micromorphology (essentially petrography) is one of the most effective means of teasing out past geological and human processes in caves often with a high degree of spatial and temporal resolution. Commonly employed techniques, such as grain size analysis, are in appropriate for dealing with these complex types of deposits. This paper will illustrate some of these processes and activities, with examples from several Old World prehistoric sites, including Kebara (Israel), Pech de l'Azé IV and Roc de Marsal (France), and Sibudu (South Africa).