Site formation and faunal remains of the Middle Pleistocene site Bilzingsleben

Müller, Werner and Pasda, Clemens. (2011) Site formation and faunal remains of the Middle Pleistocene site Bilzingsleben. Quartär, 58. pp. 25-49.

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Bilzingsleben is internationally known as a palaeontological, palaeoanthropological and archaeological reference site of a Middle Pleistocene Interglacial (Holstein). From 1969 until 2003 Dietrich Mania excavated almost 1800 m2 and retrieved several tons of faunal material which he interpreted as remains of human hunting. In order to confirm this interpretation, three areas were excavated between 2004 and 2007. The aim of the present study is to add to an understanding of the site formation processes by an analysis of the stratigraphy and taphonomy of the faunal remains of these recent excavations. In addition, the already published results of the faunal investigations of the former excavations were assembled and are presented. The stratigraphic relationships of the former excavation were confirmed. In addition, the relative abundance of the different species is very similar for the former and recent excavations, with the predominance of rhinoceros and red deer, followed by beaver and bear with significantly fewer remains, while bovid, horse and elephant remains are very rare. Also very rare are bird and fish remains, while mid-sized mammals are absent. The frequencies of the skeletal elements demonstrate, at least for the two dominant species, that all elements were present and became incorporated into the find bearing layer. Traces on the surfaces of the bones that, according to their morphology and position on the bones, must be identified as human-made cut-marks, are very rare. Taken together this indicates that the faunal remains have to be considered as natural components of the Interglacial palaeo-landscape. However, incorporated in the find-bearing layer are also local stones including flint, as well as pre-Pleistocene ostracods and fish remains. This means that parts of still older sediments were also reworked. The non-selective recovery and three-dimensional recording of all faunal remains during the recent excavations revealed a vertical distribution of over 1 m in depth, independent of animal species and size. Furthermore, in areas where the find-bearing layer is inclined the obliquely embedded elements show a preferred orientation towards the slope of the layer. This all points towards an embedding of the faunal remains under the influence of fluvial, terrestrial and limnic processes.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Archäozoologie (Schibler)
UniBasel Contributors:Müller, Werner
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Verlag Marie Leidorf
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:17 Jan 2017 14:23
Deposited On:17 Jan 2017 14:23

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