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Analysis of phytoliths from Holocene levels of El Mirón cave

AutorZurro Hernández, Débora
Fecha de publicación2012
EditorUniversity of New Mexico
CitaciónEl Mirón Cave, Cantabrian Spain. The site and its Holocene archaeological record : 143-147 (2012)
ResumenThis chapter presents the preliminary results of phytolith analyses of three samples from two ofthe Holocene levels of El Mirón Cave. Due to the small size and stratigraphically incomplete nature of the overall Holocene sample, this study can only provide an idea about the potential of the post-Paleolithic strata for yielded evidence on recent vegetation and human gathering thereof in the vicinity of the site. Nevertheless, it does provide valuable information on the preservation of this kind of phmt macrofossil, and it permits us to suggest specific hypotheses concerning their anthropic origin within the cave. Future comparative analyses of the phytolíths in the Upper Paleolithic and post. Paleolithic levels will allow us to explore the possibility of an intensification in the consumption of wild plant foods in the Mesolithic, as well as the beginnings of agriculture in the Cantabriam region (see Kubiak-Martens 1996, 2002; Zapata 2000; Zvelebil1994}. The analysis of phytoliths, as explained in detail by Piperno (2006), provides archaeological research with many advantages in terms of the study of past environments and human activities (including construction, consumption, and subsistence) (Zurro 2006). First, it permits the detection of the presence of remains derived from the consumption of plants, independent of the action of tire on the origjnal vegetal material. Second, it allows for the identification of plant parts beyond seeds, fruits, or wood, and it has demonstrated that phytoliths maintain a high level of survival in many different sedimentary contexts.
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