Stone tools in carnivore sites: The case of Bois Roche

  • Villa P
  • Soressi M
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Abstract

The repetitive co-occurrence of small numbers of lithic artifacts and large quantities of animal bones bearing traces of carnivore action at several caves in Europe has been recently interpreted to mean that Neandertals and earlier hominids scavenged carcasses that had fallen into karstic cavities or been brought into a den by carnivores. Hypotheses of scavenging by European hominids have been tested using zooarchaeological methods. However, not enough attention has been paid to the usefulness of lithic analysis procedures, such as edge damage and studies of reduction sequences, to check the nature of the stone and bone associations before interpreting them in behavioral terms. At the site of Bois Roche, an Upper Pleistocene hyena den with a small number of artifacts, we show that bones and stones have accumulated independently and that lithics have been introduced by natural transport processes, such as gravity and slope wash. Analytical procedures like ours should be used to test for redeposition before accepting a hypothesis of human scavenging from karstic cavities.

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