Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Macro- and micro-scale geoarchaeology of Ucagizli Caves I and II, Hatay, Turkey
by Mentzer, Susan Marie, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2011, 707; 3464769
Abstract (Summary)

This project documents the multi-scalar formation processes of two northern Levantine coastal Paleolithic cave sites using field geology, archaeological micromorphology and sediment geochemistry. Located in within several hundred meters of each other, the sequences from Üçagˇizi I and II present an opportunity to compare late Middle and early Upper Paleolithic hominin adaptations to a similar coastal environment. The morphologies of the sites and the suite of coastal geomorphic features available to the area’s Paleolithic occupants were impacted by fluctuations in sea level as well as tectonic events. The sites share similar formation histories that include active karstic processes, marine inundation, occupation by hominins, partial collapse of the cave vaults, and erosion of the uppermost archaeological deposits. Mousterian occupation of Üçagˇizi II began after the formation of a series of stable sea level features that date to Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5a. Hominin utilization of the highly eroded portions of the cave continued at least through the middle of MIS 3, although the cultural attribution of the youngest materials is presently unknown. Üçagˇizi I contains a sequence of Initial Upper Paleolithic, Ahmarian and Epipaleolithic materials dating to MIS 3 and 2.

Micromorphology of the archaeological sediments reveals strong anthropogenic contributions to the infilling of both caves, in particular the deposition of abundant, well-preserved wood ashes. In both sequences, post-depositional insect bioturbation has negatively impacted the combustion features, resulting in alteration of the original sedimentary fabrics and loss of information regarding hominin activities such as sweeping, rake-out and dumping of ashes. In Üçagˇizi II, the dominant mode of sedimentation is anthropogenic; a series of intact and cemented combustion features located beneath the highest point of the cave ceiling is surrounded by sediment exhibiting evidence of both rodent and insect bioturbation. In Üçagˇizi I, phases of human activity alternated with periods of natural sedimentation. Combustion features in the site include isolated hearths, stacks of hearths, rake-out or sweeping deposits, ash dumps, and mixed burned materials that have been impacted by colluvial reworking and bioturbation. In sum, the two sites contain similar types of anthropogenic sediments despite differing cultural affiliation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stiner, Mary C., Holliday, Vance T.
Commitee: Goldberg, Paul, Kuhn, Steven L., Quade, Jay
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Archaeology, Geology, Geomorphology
Keywords: Cave, Combustion, Geoarchaeology, Levant, Micromorphology, Paleolithic, Turkey, Ucagizli Caves
Publication Number: 3464769
ISBN: 978-1-124-81458-2
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