Apport des analyses minéralogiques (en spectrométrie infrarouge à transformée de Fourier) à l'interprétation des structures anthropiques : les concentrations osseuses dans les niveaux moustériens des grottes de Kébara et Hayonim (Israel)
Bone remains and lithic tools constitute one of the most informative aspects of human activities within Paleolithic sites. In particular, bone concentrations resulting from various activities of animal processing play a principal role in our understanding of the spatial organization of such activities. However, a number of post-depositional processes, including mechanical (trampling, displacement by runoff) and chemical (dissolution, recrystallization) disturbances can lead to the partial or complete disappearance of these bones. Before any conclusions or interpretations can be made about human behavior, it is important first to check the integrity of these bone distributions. In this paper, we are particularly interested in the degree of diagenesis of bone remains, which can be especially prominent in certain environmental contexts. Within the framework of an interdisciplinary program of research on the caves of Kebara and Hayonim (Israel), we conducted, in the field, systematic mineralogical analyses of the sediments associated with the bones and the bones themselves using FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry). These analyses permitted us to evaluate whether the concentrations of bones observed in the field resulted from sedimentary diagenesis and bone preservation, and/or from human behavior. An initial brief discussion of the principles of the approaches used will be followed by the presentation of two examples of occupations from the Middle Paleolithic cave sites of Kebara and of Hayonim, Israel. At Kebara, the presence of particular bone concentrations in a calcite/apatite-rich zone can be ascribed directly to human activities while at Hayonim, diagenetic factors were mainly responsible for the observed pattern. This conceptual and methodological approach thus constitutes a robust tool for the identification of anthropic structures.
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