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Taking a new look at old digs: Trampling animals may alter Stone Age sites
Date:9/23/2010

Archaeologists who interpret Stone Age culture from discoveries of ancient tools and artifacts may need to reanalyze some of their conclusions.

That's the finding suggested by a new study that for the first time looked at the impact of water buffalo and goats trampling artifacts into mud.

In seeking to understand how much artifacts can be disturbed, the new study documented how animal trampling in a water-saturated area can result in an alarming amount of disturbance, says archaeologist Metin I. Eren, a graduate student at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and one of eight researchers on the study.

In a startling finding, the animals' hooves pushed artifacts as much as 21 centimeters into the ground a variation that could equate to a difference of thousands of years for a scientist interpreting a site, said Erin. The findings suggest archaeologists should reanalyze some previous discoveries, he said.

"Given that during the Lower and most of the Middle Pleistocene, hominids stayed close to water sources, we cannot help but wonder how prevalent saturated substrate trampling might be, and how it has affected the context, and resulting interpretation, of Paleolithic sites throughout the Old World," conclude the authors in a scientific paper detailing their experiment and its findings.

"Experimental Examination of Animal Trampling Effects on Artifact Movement in Dry and Water Saturated Substrates: A Test Case from South India" has been published online by the Journal of Archaeological Science. For images, additional information and a link to the article, see www.smuresearch.com. The research was recognized as best student poster at the 2010 annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Animal trampling not new; study adds new variable

The idea that animal trampling may reorient artifacts is not new.

"Believe it or not, there hav
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Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert  

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