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 Roc de Marsal

Excavations - Goals

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Excavators cleaning the section left by Lafille prior to our excavations.


The 2007 season will represent the third year of a three-year permit issued by the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles, and the fourth season overall. 

The work to date has shown that Roc de Marsal is an impressive site, with perhaps unique potential to address a number of questions regarding Neandertal behavior. 

There are a number of goals that we will attempt to achieve in 2007.

Goal 1:  Complete exposure of the combustion features in the lower levels. 

Our plan is to adopt the technique of a broad areal exposure (décapage) on the surfaces in which they occur, which will allow us to document precisely the association of particular kinds of artifacts (faunal and lithic) with them, which in turn will potentially offer tremendous insights into the Neandertal use of space within the cave.

Goal 2:  Dating and Excavation of the Pit or Cavity.

Attention will be focused on determining (a) whether or not the pit itself is natural or of anthropogenic origin; and (b) whether or not the sediment and other materials contained within it represent intentional fill or simply normal accumulation during occupation. 

Goal 3:  Continued Sampling of the Lower Levels. 

As we get down to the lower levels we will continue to collect fresh dating (charcoal or burned bone, teeth, and burned flint) and micromorphology samples. 

Goal 4: Continued Analysis of the Lithic Collections.  

The industries from Roc de Marsal are particularly useful in comparison with similar ones from Combe-Capelle bas and Pech IV.  Preliminary interpretations suggest that site use changed through the sequence, from primary occupation in the lower levels (associated with hearths) to more specialized use involving butchery in the Quina levels. 

Goal 5:  Continued Analysis of the Faunal Collections.

To fully analyze the faunal collections with regard to paleoclimate and hominid use of the fauna, as well as full studies of other paleoclimatic data. 

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