3 years ago

Rotten posts and selected fuel: Charcoal analysis of the first Middle Neolithic village identified in Provence (Cazan-Le Clos du Moulin, Vernègues, Bouches-du-Rhône, South of France)

“Cazan-Le clos du Moulin” is an open-air Middle Neolithic site located in the South of France near the village of Vernègues. The excavation of this site has, for the first time in the area, allowed us to reconstruct up to a dozen domestic buildings from the late Chassey culture (4100-3800 BCE), arranged around an area occupied by heated stone combustion structures. Because of the partial erosion of the archaeological horizons, artefacts and ecofacts related to the Neolithic occupation were only found in the fills of structures. Charcoal analysis was carried out on samples from the postholes, the heated-stone hearths and a well. The anthracological results show a selection of natural resources depending on the use of the wood: timber or fuel. The size required for the posts can restrict the scope of the species suitable for timber: oak seems to be preferred for that purpose. On the contrary, the choice of fuel wood seems to be less constrained by technical limitations. Nevertheless, one particular species, Arbutus unedo, accounts for the bulk of the wood gathered for fuel supply, however it was certainly not the only woody resource available during the Middle Neolithic. Overall, charcoal analysis at Cazan-Le Clos du Moulin shows that wood harvesting - as recorded in the fills of structures - is selective. This selection could be imposed by purely technical requirements that we can only partly perceive or by cultural necessity which remains beyond our understanding, but, beyond this, the choices are probably guided by land and vegetation resource management in order to permit the coexistence of various wood-consuming activities in a single territory and to favor the exploitation of easily accessible fuel.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1040618216305900

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