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Title: Dead wood gathering among Neanderthal groups: Charcoal evidence from Abric del Pastor and El Salt (Eastern Iberia)
Authors: Vidal Matutano, Paloma 
Henry, Auréade
Théry-Parisot, Isabelle
UNESCO Clasification: 241710 Paleobotánica
550405 Prehistoria
Keywords: Abric del Pastor
El Salt
Middle Palaeolithic
Charcoal analysis
Fuel management, et al
Issue Date: 2017
Journal: Journal of Archaeological Science 
Abstract: We present here a new approach combining the microscopic characterization of fungal decay features and the fragmentation degree of the charcoal remains from Middle Palaeolithic combustion structures: features H4 and H11 from Abric del Pastor, unit IV (>75 ka BP) and features H50 and H57 from El Salt, unit Xb (ca. 52 ka BP), Eastern Iberia. The observation of wood degradation patterns that occurred prior to charring followed by their quantitative analysis according to previous experimental studies revealed differences between the alteration degrees of the firewood used in the hearths, highlighting the existence of firewood acquisition criteria based on dead wood gathering and also suggesting smoke-related functions. Coupled with fragmentation analyses, this method highlighted possible post-depositional processes affecting the higher degraded charcoals. These results lead us to propose a quantitative analysis of the fungal decay patterns on Middle Palaeolithic charcoal reinforcing the previous hypotheses about dead wood gathering among Neanderthal groups as an accessible and available resource in the surroundings. These data have significant implications for the interpretation of firewood use and management by Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers which was traditionally defined as an opportunistic activity according to the absence of selection criteria based on specific taxa.
ISSN: 0305-4403
Source: Journal of Archaeological Science [ISSN 0305-4403], v. 80, p. 109-121 (April 2017)
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