image/svg+xml133 VI/2/2015 INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICA NATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGY homepage: http://www.iansa.eu Tracing Post-depositional Processes at Mesolithic Occupation Sites in Central Sudan: View from the Site of Sphinx (SBK.W-60) at Jebel Sabaloka Lenka Varadzinová Suková a,g* , Ladislav Varadzin b,g , Aleš Bajer c , Lenka Lisá d , Jan Pacina e , Petr Pokorný f,g a Czech Institute of Egyptology, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague, Celetná 20, 110 00 Prague 1, Czech Republic b Institute of Archaeology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Letenská 4, 118 01 Prague 1, Czech Republic c Department of Geology and Pedology, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, Mendel University in Brno, Zemědělská 3, 613 00 Brno, Czech Republic d Institute of Geology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Rozvojová 269, 160 00 Prague 6, Czech Republic e Department of Informatics and Geoinformatics, Faculty of Environment, J. E. Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Králova výšina 7, 400 96 Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic f Center for Theoretical Study, Charles University in Prague, Jilská 1, 110 00 Prague 1, Czech Republic g Laboratory of Archaeobotany and Palaeoecology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Na Zlaté stoce 3, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic (2013–2015) 1. Introduction Since its very beginnings in the 1940s, Mesolithic archaeology in central Sudan has had to repeatedly deal with the bad state of preservation and the absence of visible stratifcation at the sites under exploration where not “a hearth, post-hole, or other trace of any building could be distinguished” and where archaeological deposits appeared as “grey sand of varying frmness, with varying distribution of sherds, stone and shell fragments &c., completely unstratifed” (Arkell 1949, 4). This has constituted a major problem not only for the feld research itself ( e.g. , Caneva 1983a, 11, 15; Caneva et al. 1993; Haaland, Magid 1995, 22), but even more so for the subsequent evaluation and interpretation of the fndings that are only rarely derived from in situ features or layers of the Mesolithic age (for the latter see Arkell 1953, 4, 97 for Shaheinab and Qoz; Adamson et al. 1974 for Tagra; and Clark 1989 for Shabona).A new discussion on this subject has recently been opened with the presentation of the fndings made in the framework of the Es Salha Project on the lower White Nile where original, undisturbed Mesolithic stratigraphies and varied in situ features have been detected to a much larger extent than at other sites ( e.g. , Usai, Salvatori 2006; Salvatori 2012; Salvatori et al. 2014; Usai 2014). Nevertheless, this can be attributed Volume VI ● Issue 2/2015 ● Pages 133–150 *Corresponding author. E-mail: sukova.lenka@gmail.com ARTICLE INFO Article history: Received: 23 rd June 2015Accepted: 30 th December 2015 Key words: SudanMesolithicarchaeological (excavation) methodspost-depositional N-transformationsarid environmentshunter-gatherer burials ABSTRACT Mesolithic archaeology in central Sudan, since its very beginnings in the 1940s, has had to deal with the bad state of preservation and the absence of visible stratifcation at prehistoric sites. This has constituted a major problem not only for the feld research itself, but particularly for the subsequent evaluation and interpretation of the fndings.This paper is concerned with the feld observations and fndings made in the 2014 feld campaign of the mission of the Czech Institute of Egyptology in their excavation of Trench 5 at the Mesolithic site of Sphinx (SBK.W-60) at Jebel Sabaloka in central Sudan. We describe and discuss the particular mechanisms of the varied post-depositional N-transformations that were encountered in a marked intensity during the feldwork, their effect on the original anthropogenic deposits, and the consequences this has for the methodology and strategies of archaeological excavation.We argue that the stratigraphic excavation method should always constitute the ultimate basis of an archaeological excavation. However, there are sites and situations in which this may turn out to be an ideal that is entirely or partly impossible to achieve. For this reason it is paramount that the traditional method of stratigraphic excavation should be undertaken in conjunction with other, parallel procedures. In this paper, we present those that we resorted to in 2014 for the excavation of Trench 5.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2015 ● VI/2 ● 133–150Lenka Varadzinová Suková, Ladislav Varadzin, Aleš Bajer, Lenka Lisá, Jan Pacina, Petr Pokorný: Tracing Post-depositional Processes at Mesolithic Occupation Sites in Central Sudan: View from the Site of Sphinx (SBK.W-60) at Jebel Sabaloka 134 not only to the research methodology and strategies employed – in particular the stratigraphic excavation method (Usai, Salvatori 2006) – but also to their better state of preservation that might have been favoured by the specifc character of the soils occurring in this area ( cf. Vail 1982, 60; Williams et al. 1982; Zerboni 2011; 2014; Salvatori et al. 2011).A better understanding of the preservation of the archaeological deposits, and of the possibilities and limits of traditional archaeological methods – together with their contingent adjustment or precision – in the conditions prevailing at the prehistoric sites at Jebel Sabaloka (West Bank) was one of the main aims set by the interdisciplinary expedition of the Czech Institute of Egyptology (Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague) for the exploration of the site of Sphinx (SBK.W-60) in 2014. In this paper, we draw attention not only to the main archaeological fndings of the campaign, but also – and in particular – to the post-depositional processes studied in the course of exploration of Trench 5 and their effect on the present shape of archaeological situations in this region. We thus aim to contribute to a broader discussion on the possibilities and limits of traditional procedures of archaeological excavation through the stratigraphic method in central Sudan and, as the case may be, in northeast Africa. 1.1 Background and aims of the 2014 feld campaign The site of Sphinx is one of the core Mesolithic sites in the Czech research area. It is situated on top of one of the Table 1. Jebel Sabaloka, Sphinx: AMS 14 C dates from Trenches 1 and 2 at the site of Sphinx, calibrated using OxCal 4.2 (Bronk Ramsey 2009) and according to the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013). No.Trench (sector)Unit/Feature Material Lab. No.Age BP Age cal. BC (95.4%)Notes 12 (east)B.4 Unio elongatulus Poz-604118620±40 7725–7580 directly on the shoulder of the deceased2 2 (centre/west) B.5 Unio elongatulus Poz-483478220±40 7355–7079 right next to the head (in front of the face)3 2 (centre/east) B.1 Unio elongatulus Poz-604108160±40 7305–7061 directly on the tibia42 (east)B.4ostrich eggshellPoz-630058950±50 8276–7965 uncovering (cleaning) of the bones52 (northwest)B.3ostrich eggshellPoz-630048920±50 8269–7941 uncovering (cleaning) of the bones6 2 (north/centre) B.21ostrich eggshellPoz-630078690±50 7936–7591 uncovering (cleaning) of the bones7 2 (centre/west) B.5ostrich eggshellPoz-630068480±50 7592–7482 uncovering (cleaning) of the bones8 2 (centre/east) B.1ostrich eggshellPoz-633148340±40 7521–7312 uncovering (cleaning) of the bones91SU2 Pila wernei Poz-58573 6220±40 5303–5057remains of a pit/deposit of snails? 101SU2 Pila wernei Poz-58572 6180±40 5286–5002remains of a pit/deposit of snails?