Prehistoric cooking technologies have tended to focus on chemical analysis of ceramics. Without considering other artefacts involved in food preparation this may lead to a biased understanding of prehistoric diets. This project will focus on the combined chemical and morphological analysis of fire-cracked rocks that have been thought to have been used for the preparation of foodstuffs. It is likely that rocks with quartz such as sandstone, conglomerate or greywacke were mostly chosen due to their ability to retain and gradually release heat during cooking, however there are many examples of the use of carbonate rocks for a similar purpose. While these are often found near hearths or as specific structures in prehistoric settlements, you will attempt to provide direct evidence through lipid analysis carried out on the stones themselves. Thought the analysis of fire-cracked rocks from the Early Neolithic sites of La Draga (Spain) and Abri Pendimoun (France), this project will 1) to establish criteria for recognising the use of stones in cooking activities; 2) identify the physical alterations on rocks related with heating and cooking; 3) identify direct evidence of use through chemical analysis of lipids associated with these samples to integrate all these results with data provided from archaeozoological and archaeobotanical data (firewood and food remains). Finally, you will reconstruct the nature and intensity of the heating process and the function of these stones.
PhD starting October 2021 and recruiting now.
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