International Journal of Human Diversity and Evolution
Coverage: 1923-1941 (Vols. I-XIX) & 1962-2023 (Vols. 1-61)
ISSN 0323-1119 (Print)
ISSN 2570-9127 (Online)
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'Chambon P, Thevenet C, 2014: Coffins and stretchers in Middle Neolithic burials: a comparative study of the Paris Basin and the Upper Rhine plain. Anthropologie (Brno) 52, 3: 247-262'.
The taphonomic approach remains the best way to detect the presence of organic materials that have disappeared. The use of mobile, rigid containers can be identified despite the fact that they were composed of perishable materials. Starting from corpse decay, the initial presence of such elements can gradually be recognised. Though the first Neolithic containers identified come from the Linear Pottery Culture, they are especially distinctive for the Middle Neolithic, Mittelneolithikum, on the Upper Rhine plain as well as at Cerny in the Paris Basin. The anteriority along the Rhine indicates the direction of spreading. The main lines of the burials in the two areas are identical. The decomposition of these bodies took place in an empty space. The effets de paroi frequently noted on the sides of skeletons indicate the use of a type of architecture distinct from the pit. The sliding or collapsing of the bodies against the container wall suggests that the container was mobile. Moreover, in some cases, an arm, a forearm or a hand exited the container, implying that it was not closed. The final observed internal arrangements can also include support for the head and grave goods. The development of conditions for reaching the most complex interpretation implies that the cases where the use of such a device cannot be demonstrated should not necessarily be regarded as different. In each stage, the interpretation requires a convergence of elements, representing a happy coincidence. Finally, the results of the taphonomic analysis must be contrasted with other approaches, such as sediment analysis using micromorphology, which has been shown to be very promising in a burial context. The disappearance of organic material is clearly not an impediment to the reconstruction of the initial grave. The use of containers for burials in closed areas at the same time assures a common origin for the layout. It also reinforces the link between the use of such containers and the shift toward employing a stretched position in burials.
Taphonomy - Burial container - Effet de paroi - Middle Neolithic

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