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Palaeoenvironmental and chronological investigations of the Magdalenian sites of Goyet Cave and Trou de Chaleux (Belgium), via stable isotope and radiocarbon analyses of horse skeletal remains

Palaeoenvironmental and chronological investigations of the Magdalenian sites of Goyet Cave and Trou de Chaleux (Belgium), via stable isotope and radi

Palaeoenvironmental and chronological investigations of the Magdalenian sites of Goyet Cave and Trou de Chaleux (Belgium), via stable isotope and radiocarbon analyses of horse skeletal remains   (Citations: 3)
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Trou de Chaleux and Goyet are caves situated less than 30km apart in Belgium that contain stratified Magdalenian artefacts and butchered faunal remains. Published radiocarbon dates suggest that both sites were contemporaneously occupied during to the Late-glacial interstadial. It has previously been suggested that the Trou de Chaleux Late-glacial faunal remains might be slightly older than those at Goyet Cave, and that Trou de Chaleux has two phases of occupation during the Late-glacial interstadial. However, the limited number of radiocarbon dates currently available makes it impossible to determine whether the sites are truly contemporaneous, and the assessment of their absolute chronologies is complicated by a plateau in the calibration curve. In this paper, bone collagen δ13C and δ15N signatures of horse bones from the two sites are used to reconstruct local palaeoenvironments. We hypothesise that if occupations at the two sites were contemporaneous, the horse collagen δ13C and δ15N isotope signatures from both sites will be similar, since comparable carbon and nitrogen isotopic values would reflect similar diets, ecologies and environments. To provide clear dating parameters, new AMS radiocarbon determinations are also presented. Results show that horse collagen δ13C and δ15N isotope signatures at the two sites are different, indicating that the populations were not subject to similar diets, ecologies and environments. The new radiocarbon dates confirm that the horse bones from Trou de Chaleux date to the Late-glacial interstadial, but they also show that in Goyet Cave Horizons 1 and 2, older horse remains dating to ca. 32 000–27 000 14C yr BP are mixed with Late-glacial horse remains. The δ15N values of the Goyet Cave horse bones radiocarbon dated to the Pleniglacial are substantially higher than those that have Late-glacial radiocarbon dates. Therefore, we now hypothesise that the majority of the horse bones isotopically analysed from Goyet Cave Horizon 1 are Pleniglacial in age. Statistical analysis of the radiocarbon dates indicates that the Late-glacial occupation at the two sites was contemporaneous, and that while there may appear to be two phases of occupation at Trou de Chaleux, this may be an artefact of the radiocarbon calibration curve.
Journal: Journal of Archaeological Science - J ARCHAEOL SCI , vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 653-662, 2009
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