|Hodder Level Designation(s)||TRENCH 5.CHALCOLITHIC|
|Description||X1 is a needle fragment. X5 is an antler preform. X8 is a bone point. This is a fill unit from within Space 342 in West Mound Trench 5. The assemblage is quite large - a little over 3000 fragments - and in very good condition. Sheep-sized specimens (mostly sheep) make up around 95% of fragments, but there are also specimens from cattle, equid, and dog, as well as a few human pieces. The sheep-size material is remarkably evenly spread, with all body parts well-represented and a good balance between heads, feet, vertebrae, and meaty limb bones. Fragmentation varies: the diagnostics (which contribute around 40%) are extremely unfragmented, with several complete long bones and numerous intact articular ends, and the vast majority of phalanges unbroken, indicating that much of the material was very lightly processed. Vertebrae are also unusually intact, but rib and shaft fragments have a size distribution closer to a typical room fill, possibly indicating the inclusion of some background noise in the deposit. As a result, the modal size class is probably 35-45mm, while the mean and median are much higher Carnivore action seems to have been extremely limited. There are very few gnawed specimens and well under 5% are digested - even amongst carpals and phalanges a strong majority are undigested. Most surprisingly, there are several intact proximal humeri, proximal and distal femora, etc., even from young individuals - portions which would have been the first to go if dogs had access to the deposit. Burning is fairly rare, with around 5% of scrap (and rather less of diagnostics) carbonized, and only two or three pieces calcined. Surface condition is good, with most specimens at stage 3 (‘slight weathering’) but perhaps 20% at stage 2 (‘very slight weathering’). Colouration is a very consistent light yellow among the majority of the diagnostics but is slightly more varied in the scrap, supporting the idea that there may be some background noise. Cut marks are rare, but include a few related to dismemberment and a few which may be filleting or consumption. Overall, the assemblage has very high coherency. The good preservation, limited fragmentation, and low incidence of carnivore action suggest rapid burial and a lack of disturbance or redeposition, and this is strongly supported by numerous articulations (for example almost half of the carpals are articulated with at least one other specimen) and, more conclusively, many unfused epiphyses that were clearly together in the ground. This unit does not fall easily into any of the conventional categories of room-fill, midden, feasting deposit etc. which have in any case yet to be clearly defined for the West Mound. It appears to be a dump of post-consumption waste, but is much shorter-term than the classic idea of a midden, and the material is also much less processed than might be expected. The unit could perhaps relate to an unusual episode of consumption and subsequent deposition - perhaps akin to the East Mound feasting deposits, but with mostly caprines rather than cattle - but any such interpretation is highly tentative given the current lack of a solid frame of reference for West faunal units. The presence of such a deposit within a space fill would certainly be interesting in terms of changing depositional practices between the two mounds. Flot (>4mm, 100%): the flot is very small, at **** pieces. Of these, only 7 are >20mm, and only three are diagnostic. The flot confirms the impression that there is little redeposited material in the unit, with large, fresh pieces dominant overall.|
|Recorded By (initials)||DCO, NR (tools)|
|Recorded By (name)||David Orton, Nerissa Russell (tools)|
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