A principal behavioral issue in paleoanthropology centers on the degree to which the behaviors of Neanderthals and modern humans may have differed. Efforts to address this problem have employed the analysis of living floors and site structure in which researchers have traditionally emphasized a dichotomy between the site structures thought to distinguish Modern Human and Neanderthal occupations. This thinking links “complex” site structures characterized by several discrete activity areas to Modern Humans, in contrast to the “simple” structure of Neanderthals as seen in single hearths associated with overlapping, generalized activities. Correlations between prehistoric behaviors and site structures, however, may be masked, distorted, and even destroyed by a variety of natural and cultural agencies. Natural post-depositional processes may be associated with bioturbation, cryo-turbation, and the degradation of sediments through wind and water erosion. Both post- and synch-deposition “disturbance” of artifact distributions and features by human activities may involve cleaning, scuffage, and other site alterations. Perhaps the most vexing of problems associated with post-depositional distortion is from subsequent overlapping occupations in which a smearing or blurring of artifact distributions occurs; i.e., the palimpsest problem. Using the results of a multi-year research program of stratified living floors at the Late Levantine Mousterian rockshelter site of Tor Faraj, southern Jordan, an introduction to a partial solution of addressing the palimpsest problem through hearth pattern and ring and sector analyses is described here.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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