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From Kebara to KwaZulu-Natal: Integrating Micromorphology and Mineralogical Analyses in the Study of Diagenesis in Combustion Features

Author(s): Susan Mentzer ; Christopher Miller

Year: 2015

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Summary

Since the 1990’s, Paul Goldberg’s micromorphological analyses at Kebara and Hayonim Caves (Israel) as well as his collaborative efforts to understand chemical diagenesis in caves have served as benchmarks for the high-resolution study of Paleolithic combustion features. This paper highlights the results of micromorphology, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) microspectroscopy and microscopic x-ray diffraction measurements, which were employed together order to understand different diagenetic pathways that impacted combustion features at the sites of Sibudu (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), Diepkloof Rockshelter (Western Cape, South Africa) and Üçağızlı Cave I (Hatay, Turkey). At Sibudu, phosphate- and sulfate-bearing minerals were identified in the field using portable FTIR analyses of loose sediment samples. The impacts of these minerals on both the physical and chemical preservation of combustion features were addressed using microcontextual analyses. At Diepkloof, mineralogical analyses indicate that burning activities likely impacted secondary sulfate minerals in underlying deposits. Finally, at Üçağızlı Cave I, micromorphological observations of variability in the degree of post-depositional cementation of ashes were corroborated using infrared measurements.

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From Kebara to KwaZulu-Natal: Integrating Micromorphology and Mineralogical Analyses in the Study of Diagenesis in Combustion Features. Susan Mentzer, Christopher Miller. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396277)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
AFRICA


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America