Draw a diagram showing the stratigraphic section of this site. Label the important components in each layer. (15 marks)

After graduating with a degree in archaeology, you and a group of students excavated a rock shelter site beside and above a river in Africa. You spent several months digging and the field season is now finished. The next step is to analyze what you have found.

During the dig, you discovered four main stratigraphic layers at the site:

Layer 1: This is the uppermost layer and it contains a grey dusty soil with a few small, broken pieces of granite mixed into it. In this layer, you discover two sherds of glazed pottery, a single piece from a polished stone bowl, four pieces of broken incised pottery and twelve pieces of broken impressed pottery. There are no stone tools in this layer. Most of the faunal remains belong to medium to small sized mammals, but you did find a few bones from a single elephant, bones from ten domesticated goats or sheep, and the remains of three dogs.

Layer 2: Light reddish-brown, sandy deposit. In layer 2, you find two stones bowls, three pieces of impressed pottery, ten pieces of incised pottery, and fragments of heavily corroded (rusted) iron. The faunal remains are primarily from large antelope species or domesticated goats or sheep. At the bottom of layer 2 is the top of a pit filled with ash, charcoal, and burnt wood fragments, a few burnt animal bones, and a few burnt cultivated sorghum seeds. This pit cuts into the two lower layers (layers 3 and 4).

Layer 3: The top of this layer is a 20cm deep, old ground surface with a few grass roots in it. It also contains an area that might be a hearth and other places where scatters of charcoal are present. In this layer you find flaked and polished stone fragments, a piece from a broken stone bowl, and two pieces of incised pottery. The faunal remains include two dogs, eighteen domesticated sheep or goats, eight cows, and a variety of wild antelope species.

Layer 4: The top of this layer is a 40cm deep, dark grey-brown topsoil. There is one area with charcoal which can be identified as a hearth. This hearth contains a variety of burnt wild seeds and a few charred antelope bones. Throughout this layer, you find 1,302 pieces of flaked stone and 96 stone tools. At the top of this layer is a polished stone axe. The faunal assemblage contains bones from elephants, zebras, and antelopes. There are no domesticated species present. A shallow grave was also found in this layer. In it was a human skeleton, and this person was buried in a flexed position, with two stone tools placed near their head. Underneath Layer 4 is bedrock.

The faunal remains are given in the table below. The numbers represent the minimum number of individuals (MNI) and are not the number of specimens found for each species.

Roan antelope511
Grant’s gazelle3134
Thompson’s gazelle62
Impala (medium sized antelope)2221
Eland (large antelope)132
Duiker (small antelope)25
Domesticated cattle8
Ovicaprids (domesticated sheep or goats)181410
Honey badger1
  Totals  26  42  26  28

Questions to answer

1. Draw a diagram showing the stratigraphic section of this site. Label the important components in each layer. (15 marks)

2. You have a budget which allows you to send three samples from each layer to a lab for dating. Which samples would you select? Why have you chosen those specific samples? What dating technique(s) would you use and why? (20 marks)

3. How would you reconstruct the environment at this site? Which samples would be the most important for doing this and why? (15 marks)

4. Your next task is to examine the artefacts. How would you sort and classify them? Identify the pattern(s) in their distribution, describe what it is(are), and give a possible explanation for what you see in the data. (15 marks)

5. A bioanthropologist will be examining the human skeleton. How will they determine the sex and age of the individual? Describe a method they might use to examine the person’s diet. Is there a technique which could confirm that their diet is reflected in the animal remains found in Level 4? (20 marks)

6. Consider the artefacts and faunal remains found in each layer. These are directly related to what people were doing at the site and the type of lifeway they were living. How were people obtaining their food? Is it the same in each layer? Use the data from the excavation to support your answer. (15 marks)

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