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PHYTOLITH AND STARCH ANALYSES OF LITHIC ARTIFACTS FROM THE LAPA DO SANTO SITE (EAST-CENTRAL BRAZIL)
Daniela Ortega  1, *@  , Ximena Villagran  1@  , Célia Boyadjian  2@  , André Strauss  3@  
1 : Museum of Archeology and Ethnology of the University of São Paulo  (MAE-USP)  -  Site web
2 : National Museum/UFRJ  -  Site web
3 : University of São Paulo  (USP)  -  Site web
* : Auteur correspondant

The karstic region of Lagoa Santa (Minas Gerais state) contains several archaeological sites dating back to the early Holocene with an astonishing number of well-preserved human remains. The Lapa do Santo rockshelter, in the northern part of the karst, contains more than 30 human interments in which complex funerary rituals were identified, including defleshing, decapitation and intentional teeth removal. The sedimentary matrix containing the skeletal remains is mostly made of ashes from ancient combustion structures, lit within a period of about 3000 years. Several lithic artifacts have been recovered from the site, most of them of small dimensions (length around 22 mm). Lithics are mostly flakes (rarely retouched), cores and splinters made from single crystals of hyaline quartz. Previous technological research suggests that lithic artifacts were used to cut and scrape small and soft materials, like plants. To verify whether the lithics from Lapa do Santo were indeed used to process plant resources, analyses of plant microremains (phytoliths and starch grains) were undertaken in 20 artifacts from the site. The artifacts were recovered from three different excavation units following a standard protocol to prevent contamination. Sediment samples from the site were also analyzed in order to differentiate between microremains retained in the lithics after their use or incorporated later from the surrounding sediments. Preliminary analyses revealed a larger amount of phytoliths than starch grains in most of the artifacts. Identification and classification of the plant microremains are still in progress. Here we will present the results of the first study in plant microremains retained in the lithic artfacts of Lapa do Santo, to better understand the role of plant processing in the lithic industries of Lagoa Santa. 


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