Original paper

Evaluating post-depositional processes in level O of the Abric Romaní archaeological site

Gabucio, Maria Joana; Cáceres, Isabel; Rosell, Jordi

Abstract

Archaeological faunal assemblages may be accumulated and altered by multiple taphonomic agents through different processes. Before drawing any behavioural or environmental inferences from the archaeological record, researchers must identify the taphonomic agents and mechanisms that have modified faunal assemblages. In this paper, post-depositional alterations of the faunal remains in the level O of the Abric Romaní site, dated around 55 ky, are investigated. As with other levels of this site studied previously, the origin of the macrofaunal accumulations in level O and the major taphonomic modifications within this level are due to human activity. After human occupation, however, post-depositional taphonomic processes occurred including carnivore damage, plant activity, water abrasion, rodent activity, cementation and manganese oxide pigmentation. In the present study we focus on post-depositional processes paying particular attention to the number of affected remains, degree of alteration, the sequence of modifications, skeletal part representation and spatial distribution of the remains. Our study concludes that the level O had a microenvironment of relative ambient humidity, marked by wet conditions and reactivations of weak water flows. In general, post-depositional processes were not highly destructive, which is conducive to the study of the faunal remains from an archaeological point of view.

Keywords

taphonomyarchaeologyneanderthalsbone surface modificationspost-depositional processesabric romanÍ