Facial reconstruction

Search LJMU Research Online

Browse Repository | Browse E-Theses

Mollusk carbonate thermal behavior and its implications in understanding prehistoric fire events in shell middens

Milano, S, Lindauer, S, Prendergast, AL, Hill, EA, Hunt, CO, Barker, G and Schöne, B (2018) Mollusk carbonate thermal behavior and its implications in understanding prehistoric fire events in shell middens. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 20. pp. 443-457. ISSN 2352-409X

[img] Text
Shellfish processing_Final with figs and tables.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 5 June 2020.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB)

Abstract

Archaeological shell middens are particularly important for reconstructing prehistoric human subsistence strategies. However, very little is known about shellfish processing, especially when related to the use of fire for dietary and disposal purposes. To shed light on prehistoric food processing techniques, an experimental study was undertaken on modern gastropod shells (Phorcus lineatus). The shells were exposed to high temperatures (200-700 °C) to investigate subsequent mineralogy and macro- and microstructural changes. Afterwards, the three-pronged approach was applied to archaeological shells from Haua Fteah cave, Libya (Phorcus turbinatus) and from shell midden sites in the United Arab Emirates (Anadara uropigimelana and Terebralia palustris) to determine exposure temperatures. Results indicated that shells from the Haua Fteah were exposed to high temperatures (600 - 700 °C) 38 during the Mesolithic period (c. 12.7 - 9 ka), whereas specimens from the Neolithic period (c. 8.5 - 5.4 ka) were mainly exposed to lower temperatures (300 - 500 °C). The thermally-induced changes in A. uropigimelana and T. palustris shells from the South East Arabian archaeological sites were similar to those seen in Phorcus spp. suggesting a broad applicability of the experimental results at an interspecific level. Although heat significantly altered the appearance and mineralogy of the shells, 14CAMS ages obtained on burnt shells fit within the expected age ranges for their associated archaeological contexts, indicating that robust radiocarbon ages may still be obtained from burnt shells. Our study indicates that the combination of microstructural and mineralogical observations can provide important information to infer shellfish processing strategies in prehistoric cultures and their change through time.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Carbonate phase transformation; Haua Fteah; Shell microstructure; Raman spectroscopy; Thermal-induced diagenesis; Pyrotechnology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 10:45
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 10:45
DOI or Identification number: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.05.027
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8826

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item