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Testing the Reality of a "Living Floor" with Archaeological Data

Harold L. Dibble, Philip G. Chase, Shannon P. McPherron and Alain Tuffreau
American Antiquity
Vol. 62, No. 4 (Oct., 1997), pp. 629-651
DOI: 10.2307/281882
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/281882
Page Count: 23
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Testing the Reality of a "Living Floor" with Archaeological Data
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Abstract

No matter how "pristine" an archaeological assemblage may appear, archaeologists should always be concerned with documenting the degree and nature of possible postdepositional disturbances. This paper outlines a number of tests that can be applied to archaeological, vs. geological, data to assess these effects, and their use is illustrated in an excavation of a Lower Paleolithic site in France. Although this site was originally thought to contain a possible "living floor" reflecting relatively little postdepositional disturbance, the tests applied here clearly show that both the lithic and faunal components in large part reflect secondary deposits and most probably are only coincidentally associated. From a methodological perspective, this study clearly demonstrates the power of these tests for assessing the taphonomic history of any site containing lithic and faunal remains, and the use of this particular example illustrates the need for these kinds of tests to be applied at the time of excavation.

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