Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


1 February 2010

Identifying the geochemical taphonomy of the osteological material from Katsambas rockshelter

George Iliopoulos, Nena Galanidou, Spiros A. Pergantis, Vicky Vamvakaki & Nikos Chaniotakis Journal of Archaeological Science 37.1 (January 2010): 116-123.


We report analytical work undertaken in order to identify the geochemical taphonomy of the osteological collection (human and animal bones) recovered from a 1950s excavation at Katsambas, a small cavity in the marly limestone on the west bank of Kairatos River, Crete. The site had funerary use and yielded material of Neolithic and Minoan age with poor stratigraphical association. Disintegration of provenance labels from bags has introduced further uncertainty about the contexts of recovery. Samples of human and animal bones that macroscopically appear to belong to three taphonomic categories were studied by means of FT-IR spectroscopy, TEM microscopy and REE analysis to explore the taphonomical processes the bones have undergone. Although not novel in palaeontological research the use of REE opens a new path to investigating poorly provenanced osteological collections from old excavations. Such geochemical work offers a proxy to their relative dating through the evaluation of the time span bones have remained in the sediments and their respective taphonomic histories.


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