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Evaluation of Phosphate Analysis and the Brongers Method of Detecting Decomposed Wood, Human Tissue and Organic Goods in a Bell Beaker Grave at Těšetice-Kyjovice, Czech Republic

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Year of publication 2011
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica – Natural Sciences in Archaeology (IANSA)
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Field Archaeology, anthropology, ethnology
Keywords Bell Beaker Grave; Funerary Rite; Grave Construction; Geochemical Soil Analyses; GIS; Spatial Analysis
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Description Investigations of a Bell Beaker grave were conducted at Těšetice-Kyjovice in Moravia, and included a trial of a geochemical phosphate analysis and Brongers method for detecting decomposed wood. The grave was well-equipped, comprising a chamber, skeleton and surrounded by a trough. The aim of this paper is to provide an interpretation of anthropogenic phosphates in the grave, their relation to the skeleton, a description of an application of Brongers method and comments on the outcomes. Through the use of the GIS approach, the geochemical methods have a more logical structure which improves burial rite research. The authors are of the opinion that the body was deposited into the grave chamber before soft tissue decomposition due to phosphate accumulation recognized under the skeleton. A second accumulation of phosphates is in all probability related to organic grave goods. Brongers method identified the features at the 40 cm level and provided a more complete picture of the features identified at 110 cm and 140 cm. The features recorded are thought to be the remains of a wood structure along the chamber wall, a divider wall or a top cover. The authors tested this method, which had only been sporadically used in the Czech Republic. The geochemical approach provided relevant results for a thorough interpretation of an archaeological context which is not recognizable through the naked eye.
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