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Anthracology and taphonomy, from wood gathering to charcoal analysis. A review of the taphonomic processes modifying charcoal assemblages.

Abstract : Among the scientific community, there is an ongoing debate on the representativeness of charcoal from archaeological contexts and their potential for palaeoecological reconstitution. The anthracological deposits we study are the result of many human activities and natural processes which are not easy to separate on the basis of their effects. Therefore, we consider that we should not limit "taphonomy" to the study of charcoal evolution just after the fire extinction. Our questioning has necessarily been widened to all the processes succeeding to each other starting from the real past vegetation to the construction of raw anthracological diagram. In this paper, we propose a review of the taphonomical processes modifying anthracological assemblages in archaeological contexts, from wood gathering to charcoal analysis This review first includes human practices. Man, his choices, preferences and actions appear clearly as the first filter determining or conditioning the assemblage. Then, the combustion process can induce a double filter by limiting the taxonomical information and by falsifying afterwards the initial quantity of burned wood. Post-depositional agents represent a third level of filters between the vegetation and the anthracological assemblage. At last, sampling and quantification methods can induce a distortion of the assemblage and have to be taken into account. The aim of this paper is to present the state of the discipline today, the already solved problems and the questions that remain to be studied.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - 3:32:54 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - 4:20:10 PM

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Isabelle Théry-Parisot, Lucie Chabal, Chrzazvzez Julia. Anthracology and taphonomy, from wood gathering to charcoal analysis. A review of the taphonomic processes modifying charcoal assemblages.. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Elsevier, 2010, pp.1-12. ⟨10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.09.016⟩. ⟨halshs-00448633⟩

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