Pen management and livestock activities based on phytoliths, dung spherulites, and minerals from Cova Gran de Santa Linya (Southeastern pre-Pyrenees)

Aitor Burguet-Coca*, Ana Polo-Díaz, Jorge Martínez-Moreno, Alfonso Benito-Calvo, Ethel Allué, Rafael Mora, Dan Cabanes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The archaeological evidence from Cova Gran de Santa Linya suggests that during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, the site was used as a livestock enclosure where the accumulated excrements were burned, generating a sequence known by the term fumier. Here we present the results of an integrated study of silica phytoliths, dung spherulites, and mineral composition of sedimentary matrix from the remaining Holocene sequence. The use of fire to sanitize the space had important consequences for the preservation of dung spherulites and the accumulation of phytoliths. Phytolith assemblages indicate that the animals enclosed in the cave were mostly sheep that exploited the pastures nearby the site during the year. In this sense, the results from our modern plant reference collection challenge the assumption that grass inflorescence phytolith can be used as a seasonality indicator.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number148
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Volume12
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Dung spherulites
  • FTIR
  • fumier
  • Late Prehistory
  • Livestock
  • Phytoliths
  • Seasonality

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