Water buffalo and goat hooves may have disturbed Indian Stone Age sites

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Washington, Sept 24 (ANI): Interpretations of Stone Age culture from discoveries of ancient tools and artefacts may need to be reanalysed, says a new research conducted in in the Jurreru River Valley in Southern India.

The new study documented how animal trampling in a water-saturated area can result in an alarming amount of disturbance, according to archaeologist Metin I. Eren at Southern Methodist University.

In a startling finding, the animals' hooves pushed artefacts as much as 21 centimetres into the ground - a variation that could equate to a difference of thousands of years for a scientist interpreting a site, said Erin.

"Believe it or not, there have been dozens of trampling experiments in archaeology to see how artefacts may be affected by animals walking over them. These have involved human trampling and the trampling of all sorts of animals, including elephants, in dry sediments," Eren said.

Eren and seven other researchers tested their theory by scattering replicated stone tools over both dry and saturated areas of the valley. They then had water buffalo and goats trample the "sites."

The researchers found that tools salted on ground saturated with water and trampled by buffalo moved up to 21 centimetres vertically, or a little more than 8 inches. Tools trampled by goats moved up to 16 centimetres vertically, or just over 6 inches.

Given that artefacts embedded in the ground at vertical angles appear to be a diagnostic marker of trampling disturbance, the researchers concluded that sites with water-saturated sediments should be identified and reanalysed.

The study has been published online by the Journal of Archaeological Science. (ANI)

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