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From sooty speleothems analysis to the study of occupation dynamics of caves by prehistoric societies / Ségolène Vandevelde


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From sooty speleothems analysis to the study of occupation dynamics of caves by prehistoric societies / Ségolène Vandevelde

From sooty speleothems analysis to the study of occupation dynamics of caves by prehistoric societies / Ségolène Vandevelde, in colloque "1st Virtual Conference for Women Archaeologists and Paleontologists. Nouveaux apports à l’étude des populations et environnements passés" organisé par le laboratoire Travaux et Recherches Archéologiques sur les Cultures, les Espaces et les Sociétés (TRACES) de l’Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès et le laboratoire Paléontologie Évolution Paléoécosystèmes (PALEVOPRIM) de l'Université de Poitiers, sous la responsabilité scientifique de Julie Bachellerie, Ana Belén Galán López (Traces), Émilie Berlioz et Margot Louail (Palevoprim). Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, 8-9 mars 2021.
Session 2 : Occupation of territories and population mobility.
[Conférence enregistrée en distanciel].

Studying past societies requires an understanding of their social organization. One of the entry points is the study of mobility patterns and land use dynamics, which can only be accessed with high temporal resolution. If this micro-chronological resolution (sub-annual to decennial) is accessible to ethnologists, it is generally not accessible to prehistoric archaeologists whose archaeological assemblages are unfortunately almost exclusively cumulative and are mostly formed over a long period of time. In order to reach high temporal resolution in archaeology, the object of my research has been to develop fuliginochronology (from lat. fuligo, fuliginosus: soot, fuliginous), a microchronological study of soot deposits trapped in speleothems, witnesses of human occupation in cavities. This pioneering method thus makes it possible to reconstruct the chronicle of human occupations in cave sites. The joint study of soot films and annual calcite doublets allows the chronicles to be set on a microchronological time scale with subannual resolution. The analysis of this geoarchaeological object thus consists of an anthropological study of past societies, since mobility in its temporal dimension is accessed on the human time scale. To date, few studies have been interested in this material and yet this microchronological method presents a wide field of application both chronological and geographical, since it can be applied anywhere in the world and for any period, as long as fires have been made near active concretions.
During this presentation, the method will be presented as well as the experiments carried out to better understand the formation of these archives of anthropogenic activities that fuliginous speleothems are. The use of this method to document the mobility patterns of past societies will also be presented through case study.

 

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