Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 616–668

Microarchaeological Approaches to the Identification and Interpretation of Combustion Features in Prehistoric Archaeological Sites


DOI: 10.1007/s10816-012-9163-2

Cite this article as:
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.


Hearth Micromorphology Ashes Charcoal Controlled use of fire 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tübingen Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and PaleoecologyTübingenGermany
  2. 2.INA—Institute for Archaeological SciencesEberhard Karls Universität TübingenTübingenGermany
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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