Microarchaeological Approaches to the Identification and Interpretation of Combustion Features in Prehistoric Archaeological Sites
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- Mentzer, S.M. J Archaeol Method Theory (2014) 21: 616. doi:10.1007/s10816-012-9163-2
Combustion features inform archaeologists about the prehistoric use of space, subsistence behaviors, and tempo of site visitation. Their study in the field is difficult because burned sediments are susceptible to reworking and diagenesis. Microarchaeological analyses, including micromorphology, are essential for documenting the composition, preservation, and function of hearths and other burned residues. These investigations focus on the description of fuels, depositional fabrics and structures, and mineralogy. As evidenced by a literature review, microarchaeological analyses have much to offer Paleolithic archaeologists, while applications of the techniques to Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene sites and in ethnographic or experimental contexts are presently rare.