Before Farming

Taphonomy and stratigraphy in European prehistory

Before Farming (2004), 2004, (1), 1–20.

Abstract

This paper reports on past and recent studies of archaeological stratigraphy and human occupation features at several Paleolithic cave and open air occurrences seen in the light of refitting, taphonomy and sedimentary context. The Lazaret, Lunel Viel, Fontbrégoua, Caminade, Ambrona and Grotta dei Moscerini occurrences are examined in detail. The adequacy and significance of samples and the value of the refitting method are discussed for some cases. The most successful interpretations of site function, behavioural patterns or models of cultural stratigraphy are those that integrate bone taphonomy or lithic analyses, whether or not based on refitting, with sedimentary and contextual analyses. Some occurrences show that taphonomy without contextual or stratigraphic controls is not likely to produce solid data and that honesty in inference requires that our interpretations do not imply more than we actually know.

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Villa, Paola