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This paper explores what can be learned about settlement construction and use in the southwest Asian Neolithic from phytolith, geochemical and ethnographic analysis. This period was targeted because, despite its importance, our understanding of building practices and use of space within settlements is sometimes limited. We chose the sites of WF16 and ‘Ain Ghazal as case studies and compared them with ethnographic samples of known origin from the similarly constructed twentieth century village of Al Ma'tan, Jordan. We split our samples into different context categories for example middens, hearths and floors, and found that phytolith and elemental signatures are strongest for categories linked to construction practices rather than activities. Geology, age and the availability of local plant materials were found to be key sources of signature variability. Fire contexts have particularly distinct activity signatures, which are heavily influenced by fuel choice yet are relatively analogous. We suggest that the use of micro-proxies such as phytoliths and geochemistry should be considered when sampling strategies are devised and integrated with other forms of archaeological evidence to enhance site interpretation.
|Number of pages||26|
|Journal||Environmental Archaeology: The Journal of Human Palaeoecology|
|Early online date||17 Aug 2023|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2023|
- SW Asia
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- 1 Finished
INEA: Identifying activity areas in Neolithic sites through ethnographic analysis of phytoliths and geochemical residues
Jenkins, E. L., Grattan, J., Palmer, C. & Smith, H.
01 Jan 2014 → 30 Jun 2014
Project: Externally funded research