Acknowledging the mess: Implications of a new documentation system for understanding formation processes of two Palaeolithic sites in the Ceahlău Basin (NE Romania)
It is nowadays generally well acknowledged that archaeological excavation and documentation methods have a major impact on interpretations of the record. In the last decades, the effort to mitigate potential biases became increasingly visible, generally by combining high-resolution excavations with detailed accounts of employed methodologies. However, this also highlighted the uneven quantity and quality of data obtained throughout the history of archaeological research, stressing the need to re-evaluate past interpretations. In order to understand the degree of these issues in the particular case of Romanian Palaeolithic research, a brief comparison between the ‘traditional’ excavation and recording methodologies in use between 1950 and 1990, and new documentation methods, based on 3D geodetic total station-aided recording, multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental sampling and systematic chronometric assessments, is proposed. Based on their comparable sedimentological background, two sites located in the Eastern Carpathians (Bistricioara-Lutărie I/II and Bistricioara-Lutărie III) were chosen for this task. The goal is obviously not to criticize an already abandoned methodology, but rather to offer a more realistic image of the state of preservation of these particular archaeological sites, with implications for defining relevant analytical units. Overall, this endeavour stressed the fact that filtering potential interferences caused by syn- and post-depositional processes is a difficult task without the input of the additional data offered by a multi-proxy approach.
Upper Palaeolithic; site formation; documentation; spatial analysis; database.