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 Roc de Marsal
The Combustion Features?
One of our primary goals is to identify and expose individual combustion features – ‘hearths’ - so that we can study the spatial association between artifacts and faunal remains and hearths.

In order get good data on spatial organization we began applying a traditional French excavation technique called décapage to the excavation area just inside the cave mouth.

Décapage involves ‘pealing off’ thin layers of sediments and exposing broad areas of roughly contemporary artifacts and bones.

This technique proceeds very slowly and we won’t start exposing the first layer with hearth features until the start of the 2008 season.

Stacked hearths in Level 7

We have identified at least two locations in stratigraphic section where four or more hearths had been built in succession in the exact same place.

This suggests that, over periods of time, successive occupants of the cave followed similar patterns in their use of site space.

These locations of stacked hearths straddle the dripline of the cave suggesting that most living went on just outside or just inside the cave mouth. A scarcity of artifacts in the rear of the cave suggests that few activities took place there.
Stacked hearths in Level 9