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"Mind the gap": Caves, radiocarbon sequences, and the mesolithic-neolithic transition in Europe - Lessons from the Mala Triglavca Rockshelter Site

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robert Payton


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Radiocarbon sequences from some northern Mediterranean cave sites show a temporal gap between Mesolithic and Neolithic occupations. Some authors regard this as a regional phenomenon and have sought to explain it in terms of a general population decline in the late Mesolithic, which facilitated the replacement of indigenous foragers by immigrant farmers. New evidence from the rockshelter site of Mala Triglavca, in Slovenia, leads us to question this view. We describe the deposits in the rockshelter and discuss the results of AMS radiocarbon dating of bone samples recovered in excavations in the 1980s. New archaeological investigations and associated soil/sediment analyses show that in the central part of the rockshelter a well-defined stratigraphic sequence can be established, despite post-depositional modification by soil forming processes. There is also evidence of substantial post-depositional disturbance of the cave sediments by human agency and geomorphological processes, which have created "temporal gaps" and "inversions" in the radiocarbon sequence. The relatively large series of radiocarbon dates obtained enables some of the post-depositional processes to be identified. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mlekuz D, Budja M, Payton R, Bonsall C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geoarchaeology

Year: 2008

Volume: 23

Issue: 3

Pages: 398-416

ISSN (print): 0883-6353

ISSN (electronic): 1520-6548

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/gea.20220


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