Site Formation

When we first started re-excavating Fontechevade, we did not realize that site formation processes would become the main issue. However, after short time into the excavations we realized that the story of the cave and its deposits was substantially more complex than had been previously realized and that the cave likely offered little in the way of useful information on past behavior. The main issue is that the assemblages come from three sources. First, we became aware, through our own work at the site, through survey on the plateau above, and through electro-resistivity measurements, that the hillside likely contains multiple cavities including a chimney at the back of the cave that brought sediments and probably also artifacts from the plateau into the site. Second, the cave walls contain flint nodules which have eroded and spalled into the deposits as they formed in the cave. It was clear from our study of the old collections that most of what had been considered artifacts were in fact geofacts or naturally occurring flint. Third, some of the artifacts in the Tayacian deposits probably do come from actual hominin use of the cave. However, this use was extremely low intensity and because of the other factors introducing artifacts and debris into the deposits, it was impossible to create from the layers assemblages which could be productively analyzed.