fiReproxies: A computational model providing insight into heat-affected archaeological lithic assemblages

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fiReproxies: A computational model providing insight into heat-affected archaeological lithic assemblages

Type: Article / Letter to editor
Title: fiReproxies: A computational model providing insight into heat-affected archaeological lithic assemblages
Author: Sorensen, A.C.Scherjon, F.
Journal Title: PLoS ONE
Issue: 5
Volume: 13
Issue Date: 2018
Keywords: Archaeology
Middle Palaeolithic
Fire
Neandertals
Computer Simulation
Hearths
Fire proxies
Abstract: Evidence for fire use becomes increasingly sparse the further back in time one looks. This is especially true for Palaeolithic assemblages. Primary evidence of fire use in the form of hearth features tends to give way to clusters or sparse scatters of more durable heated stone fragments. In the absence of intact fireplaces, these thermally altered lithic remains have been used as a proxy for discerning relative degrees of fire use between archaeological layers and deposits. While previous experimental studies have demonstrated the physical effects of heat on stony artefacts, the mechanisms influencing the proportion of fire proxy evidence within archaeological layers remain understudied. This fundamental study is the first to apply a computer-based model (fiReproxies) in an attempt to simulate and quantify the complex interplay of factors that ultimately determine when and in what proportions lithic artefacts are heated by (anthropogenic) fires. As an illustrative example, we apply our model to two hypothetical archaeological layers that reflect glacial and interglacial conditions during the late Middle Palaeolithic within a generic simulated cave site to demonstrate how different environmental, behavioural and depositional factors like site surface area, sedimentation rate, occupation frequency, and fire size and intensity can, independently or together, significantly influence the visibility of archaeological fire signals.
Sponsor: NWO
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/72088
 

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