|Title||Phytoliths in the Middle Palaeolithic Deposits of Kebara Cave, Mt Carmel, Israel: Study of the Plant Materials used for Fuel and Other Purposes|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2000|
|Journal||Journal of Archaeological Science|
|Keywords||2010-07-24, fire, israel, kebara, Late Pleistocene, Middle Paleolithic, Neandertals|
Kebara Cave (Israel) is a well studied archaeological site. It contains abundant visible hearths. Ash derived minerals are a major component of the Mousterian sediments and are present in varying states of preservation. Furthermore, archaeobotanic information is available from charred remains. Kebara Cave is thus an ideal location to study the potential of phytoliths to provide information on the mode of fire use in the cave, to assess the input of other plant materials, as well as to determine the effects of diagenesis on phytolith preservation. Twenty samples were analysed in terms of their mineralogy, phytolith contents per unit weight of acid insoluble fraction, and phytolith morphologies. In general the preservation of the phytoliths is good, except for the two samples in which the mineral component associated at present with the phytoliths is mainly ash-derived calcite. The cave sediments contain about ten times more phytoliths than those present in the four samples analysed from outside the cave. The major source of plant material input into the cave is clearly from the wood and bark used for the fuel for fires. The grass phytoliths present in the samples are also thought, in part, to have been brought into the cave associated with the wood/bark fuel. Sediments from the hearths, as well as those between the hearths, contain abundant wood/bark phytoliths. The two samples of the latter contain appreciable amounts of phytoliths not known to be present in wood and bark, as do other hearth derived samples. Plant materials other than those used as fuel were thus also brought into the cave. This study shows that phytolith analyses, in conjunction with detailed mineralogical, stratigraphic, archaeobotanic and field information, can provide a more complete understanding of the use of plant materials in prehistoric caves for fuel.
Phytoliths in the Middle Palaeolithic Deposits of Kebara Cave, Mt Carmel, Israel: Study of the Plant Materials used for Fuel and Other Purposes
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