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Figure 9.22 Three forms of hearths recorded by Bordes tn the Acheuhan (pen:ulhmat glacial) eve o jthe Pedt de VAze 11 cave (Dordoene). While some of the hearths are marked simply by a diffuse scatter of ashy material and burned stones (lower), others are 'marked either by clearly defined scooped depressions (upper) or by burnt areas surrounded by limestone blocks (middle). After Bordes 1971a.

Figure 9.23 Possible hearth recorded in the Denticulate Mousterian level (layer 3) of the Hauteroche rock shelter, marked by concentrations of burned-bone fragments (indicated by stippling) associated with a scatter of apparently unburned limestone fragments, occupying a scooped depression in the underlying deposits. Stone tools and flakes are marked by open circles and black dots respectively. Grid numbers indicate square metres. After Debénath 1973.

Figure 9.23 Possible hearth recorded in the Denticulate Mousterian level (layer 3) of the Hauteroche rock shelter, marked by concentrations of burned-bone fragments (indicated by stippling) associated with a scatter of apparently unburned limestone fragments, occupying a scooped depression in the underlying deposits. Stone tools and flakes are marked by open circles and black dots respectively. Grid numbers indicate square metres. After Debénath 1973.

de Lumley & Boone 1976a) and from the Mousterian levels at Fonseigner (Geneste 1985) and a number of rather poorly dated sites (La Roche Geletan, Port Pignot etc.) on the Normandy coast (Fosse et ah 1986; Michel 1990).

Examples of deliberate stone arrangements placed around the edges of hearths have again been reported from a wide range of Middle and Lower Palaeolithic sites. In the supposedly 'Mindel' levels at Terra Amata, de Lumley reported that many of the hearths on the dune areas of the site appeared to have been deliberately protected by stone settings placed selectively around their north-wTest edges to shield the fires from the prevailing winds (de Lumley 1969b; de Lumley & Boone 1976a). Similar claims have been made for 'encircled' hearths in the Acheulian levels at Pech de l'Aze II (Fig. 9.22), Lunel-Viel and Orgnac, in the Mousterian levels at Baume les Peyrards (Vaucluse), and in some of the open-air sites on the Normandy coast (de Lumley & Boone 1976a,b; Fosse et al. 1986; Michel 1990).

Two more fully documented examples of deliberate stone settings in association with hearths have been reported from late Mousterian levels in the Grotte-a-Melon (near Hauteroche, Charente) and the Grotte du Bison cave at Arcy-sur-Cure (Yonne) (Figs 9.23, 9.24). Both of these features seem remarkably similar and illustrate some of the difficulties inherent in the interpretation of these stone 'constructions'. At the Grotte-a-Melon, Debenath (1973) described two levels of stones apparently associated with a hearth deposit (Fig. 9.23): a lower level of large flat stones (20-40 cm in diameter) which he believed had formed a basal paving for the hearth and an upper level of smaller stones (less than 20 cm in diameter) which were dispersed more generally around the central hearth area. As will be seen from Fig. 9.23, the actual distribution of the stones is rather diffuse and can hardly be reconstructed into an organized pattern without some element of faith. The pattern documented at the Grotte du Bison is rather clearer (Farizy 1990a). Here there was a well defined central ashy zone (about 25 cm in diameter) which appears to be broadly encircled by a scatter of small to medium-sized stones (Fig. 9.24). Approximately half of these stones are said to show evidence of burning and were pre sumably associated in some way with the original construction of the hearth or with some activities immediately around it. Of course it could be that in both cases the original arrangement of stones around the hearths was more sharply defined, and has since been disturbed and obscured by later activities on the sites; even so, to describe either hearth as deliberately 'constructed' may perhaps be stretching the available evidence to its limits.

Excavated hearths

Claims that hearth areas were excavated or scooped into the underlying deposits have again been made frequently for Lower and Middle Palaeolithic sites - for example for several of the hearths recorded at Terra Amata and Lunel-Viel, for at least one of the hearths at Champlost (Burgundy) and in several of the recently excavated sites on the Normandy coast (de Lumley 1969a; de Lumley & Boone 1976a; Villeneuve & Farizy 1990; Michel 1990; Fig. 9.25). Even where deliberate deepening of deposits below hearths can be clearly documented, there is always the question of whether this was a deliberate feature (presumably to provide shelter from draughts) or whether it resulted simply from repeated clearing of fuel and ashes during successive periods of use (cf. Michel 1990).

The most explicit evidence for this form of deliberately excavated hearth has been reported by Bordes from the late Rissian levels at Pech de l'Aze II (Bordes 1971a; 1972: 60-3). The hearths described by Bordes are curious; they are said to be extremely small (usually only 15-25cm in diameter), to extend for depths of around 10 cm into the underlying deposits, and usually show indications of some kind of vent or channel running from the centre of the hearth towards one side (see Fig. 9.22). Bordes claims that the material surrounding these hearths was clearly reddened by heat and the depressions were filled with blackened, ashy deposits. There seems little doubt therefore that the

Figure 9.24

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