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 Roc de Marsal

Excavations - The Site

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The main cave at Roc de Marsal is part of a larger system of solution cavities formed in a Cretaceous limestone that includes a number of lithological beds distinguished, in part, by their texture, composition, and degree of consolidation. The bedrock floor, as it existed just prior to initial occupation, is a highly irregular and complex erosional surface that had truncated some of these beds. At its lowest point, more or less in the center of the cave, this floor is a basin-like de-pression, while toward the back of the cave it rises abruptly approximately one meter higher (see figure).

In the rear of the cave, some of the limestone beds include irregularly shaped, sub-horizontal, erosional endokarstic tubes that had been filled with sediments that accumulated prior to and perhaps during occupation.

Overlying the bedrock, the deposits at Roc de Marsal consist generally of mineralogenic sands and silts with abundant lithic and bone remains and, in the lower levels, interspersed with stratigraphic units consisting of intact combustion features. Seven major lithostratigraphic units have been identified on the basis of color, texture, composition, and rock content. They are separate from but largely overlap with archaeological levels defined by Lafille.

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