Journal article

Mollusk carbonate thermal behaviour and its implications in understanding prehistoric fire events in shell middens

Stefania Milano, Susanne Lindauer, Amy L Prendergast, Evan A Hill, Chris O Hunt, Graeme Barker, Bernd R Schoene



Archaeological shell middens are particularly important for reconstructing prehistoric human subsistence strategies. However, very little is known about shellfish processing, especially when related to the use of fire for dietary and disposal purposes. To shed light on prehistoric food processing techniques, an experimental study was undertaken on modern gastropod shells (Phorcus lineatus). The shells were exposed to high temperatures (200–700 °C) to investigate subsequent mineralogy and macro- and microstructural changes. Afterwards, the three-pronged approach was applied to archaeological shells from Haua Fteah cave, Libya (Phorcus turbinatus) and from shell midden sites in the United Arab..

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Awarded by EU within the framework (FP7) of the Marie Curie International Training Network ARAMACC

Awarded by Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Awarded by European Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

The authors thank Michael Maus and Dr. Tobias Hager for helping during isotope analysis and Raman measurements and Dr. Lucy Farr for selecting the shells from the Haua Fteah assemblage. Funding for this study was kindly provided by the EU within the framework (FP7) of the Marie Curie International Training Network ARAMACC (604802) to SM and by the Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship (1151310) and McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellowship to AP. The Haua Fteah excavations were undertaken with the permission of the Libyan Department of Antiquities and with funding to GB from the Society for Libyan Studies and from the European Research Council (Advanced Investigator Grant 230421), whose support is also gratefully acknowledged. The three anonymous reviewers are thanked for their constructive comments on the manuscript.