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Title: The prehistoric pen deposit of Cova Gran de Santa Linya: formation processes and pastoral practices in the SE Pyrenees area
Authors: Polo-Díaz, Ana
Martínez Moreno, Jorge
Benito-Calvo, Alfonso
Mora Torcal, Rafael
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (IUPPS)
Citation: XVII World UISPP Congress, 2014, p. 759
Abstract: Pastoralism, a way of life followed by many groups in the present day as well as in the past, has encompassed an extraordinary variety of relationships between animals and humans across time and space that have been an expression of social and territorial organisation. Prehistoric pen accumulations in rockshelters and caves can provide rich evidence of pastoral practices from the Neolithic through to the Chalcolithic/Bronze period. Given the specific cultural and environmental dynamics involved in the formation processes of these sites high-resolution analysis of sediments and particularly micromorphology, has become a remarkably reliable tool for the identification and characterisation of early livestock-keeping practices. The objective of this paper is to characterise the stabling practices and the syn/postdepositional formation processes of sediments from Cova Gran de Santa Linya through a combination of microstratigraphical analyses, macroscopic observations and radiometric dating of the Late Neolithic-Chalcolithic/Bronze pen deposits recorded at the site. Samples for sedimentological and micromorphological analyses and radiocarbon dating were collected from stabling accumulations and interspersed runoff sediments. The stratigraphic sequence was recorded using aerial photography and lithostratigraphic descriptions of the sediment texture, structure and composition. In the laboratory, bulk samples were sieved and subjected to XRD and the organic content were calculated. Thin sections for micromorphological analysis were manufactured from hardened blocks of undisturbed sediments and observed with a petrographic microscope at magnifications between 10x and 400x using Plane Polarised Light (PPL), Crossed Polarised Light (XPL) and Oblique Incident Light (OIL) applying international standard terminology. To obtain a chronometric record for the sequence points that were linked to stratigraphic markers that corresponded to the roof and the base of the pen accumulations were selected. When possible, samples for radiocarbon dating were collected adjacent to block samples for micromorphology to temporally correlate the microfacies identified. Sedimentological and micromorphological data enabled characterisation of the formation processes of a sequence holding two superimposed stabling accumulations and interbedded runoff episodes between 5.050-4.620 calBP/3.320-2.720 calBP. Penning of sheep/goats has been documented at the site, mainly in the form of completely and partially combusted residues. Postdepositional physico-mechanical features as bioreworked sediments, erosive contacts and traits of water circulation allow assessment of the patterns of occupation at the site and the palaeoenvironmental dynamics involved in the degree of preservation of the stratigraphical record. This study confirms the cyclical stabling of ovicaprids in the rockshelter. Other activities, such as the repeated burning of residues, add to our understanding of pen management and the upkeep of pen deposits in the past. The topographic characteristics and extensive use of the site over a long period of time, along with contextual data from other cave sites in the South-Eastern Prepyrenees where pen deposits have also been documented, allow discussion of the role played by Cova Gran in the establisment of long distance transhumant herding between the Ebro Basin and the Pyrenees during the Prehistory.
Type: Presentation
Appears in Collections:Congresos, encuentros científicos y estancias de investigación

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