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Analysing Deposition and Site Formation Processes in Medieval Cess Pits Using Bone Fragmentation

Johnson, EV; Forsyth-Magee, H; Hogg, I; (2020) Analysing Deposition and Site Formation Processes in Medieval Cess Pits Using Bone Fragmentation. Archaeology International , 22 (1) pp. 72-78. 10.5334/ai-402. Green open access

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Abstract

Signatures of animal bone fragmentation have huge potential for understanding deposition and archaeological site formation processes, yet they are scarcely studied, especially in medieval urban contexts. Archaeological investigations at 1–5 Benjamin Street, Farringdon uncovered a number of medieval cess pits and other contexts associated with the Hospitaller Priory of St John of Jerusalem. The well-preserved zooarchaeological assemblage from these contexts was deemed an excellent case study for in-depth bone fragmentation analysis to both test and display the utility of the method at this type of site. The analysis revealed that material from the lowest fills of the cess pits differed from the upper fills in that fragmentation was more intensive. Based on the size and weight of fragments, and surface modifications related to burning and taphonomy, we postulate that floor and hearth sweepings were occasionally deposited in the cess pits whilst they were in use. This material was likely further fragmented when cess pits were periodically emptied. Faunal specimens in the upper fills have different fragmentation and taphonomic signatures and more likely relate to opportunistic refuse deposition or capping after the use of the cess pits. This analysis shows the archaeological potential of this approach when aligned with specific research questions concerning deposition.

Type: Article
Title: Analysing Deposition and Site Formation Processes in Medieval Cess Pits Using Bone Fragmentation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5334/ai-402
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.5334/ai-402
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology ASE
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107795
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