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Bone alterations in fumiers: Experimental approach

Martín-Rodríguez, Patricia, Vergès, Josep Maria
Quaternary international 2016 v.414 pp. 294-303
bones, burning, color, combustion, feces, goats, humidity, parasites, temperature, texture, Mediterranean region
This paper focuses on the study of bone alterations in fumier deposits from an experimental point of view. Fumiers are characteristic of livestock enclosures in the Mediterranean area used from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. They originate from the process of burning livestock dung piles to reduce the volume of dung accumulation and to rid these spaces of parasites. Therefore, diverse taphonomic processes take part in the formation of these types of deposits, making it difficult to interpret them, despite numerous multidisciplinary studies. This work specifically focuses on bone burning alterations.Two experiments were set up consisting of bone burning in dung piles. Sheep and goat dung was used with different matrix, texture and humidity features. The sample was made up of defleshed fresh, boiled and dry bone fragments from small and medium-sized species.As seen in previous experiments, the burning time and temperature in the two experiments varied due to these different dung features. The resulting bone sample was analyzed using taphonomic methods. Bone alterations essentially depend on the time and intensity of the dung burning. Bone condition is a secondary determining factor. The color degrees were high and coherent with the degree of dung alteration. Cortical damage was more abundant in fresh and boiled bones than in dry bones. No meaningful differences were identified with regard to bones burned in hearth combustions.