Evaluating the impact of water flotation and the state of the wood in archaeological wood charcoal remains: Implications for the reconstruction of past vegetation and identification of firewood gathering strategies at Tell Qarassa North (south Syria)

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The development of water flotation during the second half of the 20th century constituted a milestone in archaeobotany, since it allowed the systematic recovery of plant macroremains by processing large amounts of sediment for the first time. However, little attention has been paid to the fact that in certain cases, hyper-fragmentation or complete destruction of charred plant macroremains occurs as soon as they come into contact with water. At the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B site of Tell Qarassa North (south Syria) the destruction of wood charcoal remains was documented during the flotation process. The aim of this work is to evaluate the assemblage and to determine the factors that conditioned the preservation or disintegration of wood charcoal remains. In particular, attention is paid to the distribution of the alterations (e.g. vitrification, decayed wood) by taxa, and the proportions with which they are present before and after flotation. To test some of the patterns observed in the archaeological material a small-scale experiment on modern wood charcoal remains is carried out. The results enable a critic reconstruction of the type of vegetation and firewood gathering strategies at Tell Qarassa North. This work has, overall, important implications for the understanding of the taphonomic factors that affect wood charcoal assemblages.
TidsskriftQuaternary International
Sider (fra-til)60-73
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 2016

ID: 165701427