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6. Ritual Monument Batpalathang B3

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Fireplaces and Samples

Excepting the numerous charcoal and animal bone samples collected in the chamber fill, there were also accumulations of charred material in five other areas of the excavation.

In 1999, a first small “fireplace” (FP1) was found in square E/1, about 80 cm north of the platform edge. Briefly described in the previous report (Blumer and Vial 1999: 244), this fireplace measured 45 by 35 cm in surface and was about 10 cm thick. The charred remains were not particularly well preserved and were agglutinated to the surrounding sediment. No signs of a built burning structure were visible and the sediment underneath showed no sign of heating. The charcoal accumulation could thus well be in secondary position and represent remains of the clearing of a fireplace located in the vicinity. The altitude of the charred accumulation is concomitant with the platform base, so that we can consider both contemporary. Moreover, FP1 was recovered by the artificial sediment accumulation; the fire is thus directly linked to the construction phase of the monument.

The second fireplace FP2 was documented in 1999 (Ibid: 245-246) and provided a good radiocarbon date (Ibid: 248). It is located near the top of the chamber fill, within the superficial stones of squares E/3-4. Seven charcoal samples were retrieved in FP2. The charred remains were very well preserved in form of charred branches and twigs. The burning action occurred in situ since surrounding and underlying crystalline stones showed clear evidence of heating. The size of FP1 is about 50 x 50 cm and its thickness 5-10 cm. Part of the platform superficial stones overlaid the fireplace. This indicates that the burning event occurred ultimately before the end of the platform construction phase, and thus some time before the monument was completed. This sample provided the best opportunity to date the building of the monument.

In 2000, we uncovered two more individual fireplaces. The first, FP3, was located near the southwestern platform corner, in square I/6, and at about mid-height of the platform. It consisted in a small mass of charcoal agglutinated to the surrounding sediment, with a maximal thickness of 3 cm. The altitudes of the charred remains indicate that the accumulation of sediment between platform and peripheral wall took sufficient time to let the builders burn material from spot to spot around the platform. Whether this burning is directly linked to construction rituals cannot be stated with absolute certainty, but the absence of specific structural remains around and under the charred remains indicate a rather short burning process.

Fireplace FP4 was located in squares G/6-7, against the southern platform flank. It was laying with a strong southward sloping, its northern end, against the platform, being about 30 cm higher than its southern edge in square G/7. The thickness of the charcoal deposit is averaging 3-4 cm. Roots of the tree, which grew in squares G/5-6, protruded through the charred material.

In square I/1, we discovered three small accumulation of charcoal (FP5) that were superposed and separated by sediment layers of varying thickness. It is supposed that three burning processes took place at this spot during the construction of the western part of the peripheral wall, or short afterwards during the sediment accumulation.

Surprisingly, most of the bigger charcoal remains were found in the western/southwestern half of monument B3, and none in the eastern/northeastern half. The reason for this pattern remains unclear.

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Copyright 2001, Reto Blumer, Switzerland
Copyright 2001, SLFA Zürich, Switzerland

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Last updated: 29-05-2001.