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Spatial Relationships, Dating and Taphonomy of the Human Bone from the Mesolithic site of Cnoc Coig, Oronsay, Argyll, Scotland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2014

Christopher Meiklejohn
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 2E9 Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2
Deborah C. Merrett
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 2E9
Richard W. Nolan
Affiliation:
Deceased
Michael P. Richards
Affiliation:
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Paul A. Mellars
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University, Cambridge, CB2 3DZ, UK

Abstract

This paper examines the spatial distribution of the human bone sample excavated from the Mesolithic shell midden site of Cnoc Coig on Oronsay in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland. Although no burials were recovered the information from the apparently isolated bone finds has been significant. Two types of bone group are distinguished, one that resembles the widely reported ‘loose bone’ phenomenon that is widely recognised from European Mesolithic sites. The other, represented by two bone groups at Cnoc Coig, is, at this time, restricted to western Scotland. It is dominated by hand and foot bones and appears to represent purposive behaviour. We concentrate our discussion on the latter phenomenon and place it within discussion of the nature of the later Mesolithic in western Scotland.

Résumé

Cet article examine la répartition dans l'espace des échantillons d'ossements humains mis au jour sur le site du dépôt coquillier mésolithique de Cnoc Coig à Oronsay, dans les Inner Hebrides, Ecosse. Bien qu'on n'y ait pas découvert d'inhumation, les renseignements fournis par ce qui était apparemment des trouvailles d'os isolés se sont avérés significatifs. Nous avons pu distinguer deux types de groupes d'os, l'un qui ressemble au phénomène bien documenté des 'os détachés' qui est largement reconnu dans les sites mésolithiques européens. L'autre, représenté par deux groupes d'os à Cnoc Coig, est, à ce moment, restreint à l'Ecosse occidentale. Il est dominé par des os de mains et de pieds et semble représenter un comportement qui correspond à un but. Nous concentrons notre discussion sur ce dernier phénomène et le plaçons dans le cadre d'une discussion de la nature du mésolithique final en Ecosse occidentale.

Zusammenfassung

Dieser Artikel untersucht die räumliche Verbreitung der Probe menschlichen Knochens, die an der Fundstelle eines mesolithischen Muschelhaufens in Cnoc Coig auf Oronsay auf den Inneren Hebriden in Schottland ausgegraben wurde. Obwohl keine Gräber gefunden wurden, ist die Information zu den angeblich isoliert gefundenen Knochenfunden wichtig. Es konnten zwei Typen von Knochengruppen unterschieden werden; der eine Typ ähnelt dem bereits ausführlich beschriebenen ‘Lose-Knochen-Phänomen’, das man hinreichend von europäischen mesolithischen Fundstellen kennt. Der andere Typ ist durch zwei Knochengruppen in Cnoc Coig überliefert, und ist in dieser Zeit auf das westliche Schottland beschränkt. Es durch Hand- und Fußknochen gekennzeichnet und scheint ein Indiz für zielgerichtetes Verhalten zu sein. Wir konzentrieren uns in unserem Artikel auf das letztere Phänomen und wollen es damit zur Diskussion über die Beschaffenheit des späten Mesolithikums im westlichen Schottland stellen.

Résumen

Este trabajo examina la distribución espacial de los huesos humanos excavados en el yacimiento Mesolítico conchero de Cnoc Coig en Oronsay en las Islas Hébridas, Escocia. Aunque no se recuperaron enterramientos, la información procedente de los hallazgos, aparentemente aislados, de huesos es importante. Se distinguen dos tipos de grupo de huesos, uno similar al bien conocido fenómeno ‘hueso suelto’ que ha sido ampliamente reconocido en yacimientos mesolíticos europeos. El otro, representado por dos grupos de huesos en Cnoc Coig, está, hasta ahora, limitado al oeste de Escocia. En el predominan los huesos de la mano y pies, y parece ser representativo de un comportamiento intencional. Nuestra discusión se concentra en este último fenómeno y lo sitúa en el contexto del debate sobre la naturaleza del tardo Mesolítico en el oeste de Escocia.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Prehistoric Society 2005

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