Arguments in favour of an anthropogenic origin of Mesolithic pit hearths. A reply to Crombé and Langohr (2020)

Hans Huisman, M.J.L.Th. Niekus, Hans Peeters, R.C.A. Geerts, Axel Müller

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Abstract

In response to the comment by Crombé and Langohr (2020) on our micromorphological study of Mesolithic pit hearths, we argue that these features are most likely anthropogenic in origin, and that it is therefore unlikely that they are the remains of burned ant nests. Arguments for an anthropogenic origin centre around (1) their regional and temporal distribution, (2) their spatial distribution within archaeological sites, (3) their charcoal spectrum and (4) the presence of cultural remains in the pits. We argue that the absence of fire-related features and apparent discrepancies in dating can be attributed to site-formation and taphonomic processes. Finally, we indicate that, due to a lack of actual observations of the subsurface morphology of burned ant nests, it is impossible to make a valid comparison. Based on the existing literature on ant nests fires, we come to a different model of this morphology than do Crombé and Langohr (2020). We conclude that these pit hearths form an important component of the Mesolithic archaeological record and that new research into their formation and their use may shed more light on their origin and purpose.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105144
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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