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Structure patterning
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Midden patterning
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Burial patterning
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Entryway patterning
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Pathway patterning
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Boundary patterning

Interior Divisions of Space

The purposeful division of interior space is visible in phosphate analysis through the organisation and consumption of food and the intent to maintain cleanliness in certain areas (Matthews et al. 1997: 293).  Four main categories of use can be determined within structures by identifying specific phosphate patterns.  Sleeping areas, storage areas, food preparation/consumption areas and receiving/living areas all maintain specific, identifiable phosphate patterns.  Organic debris is not generated in sleeping areas, and these areas will often be identifiable in the phosphate patterning because the levels are relatively very low, often even lower than the natural background as a result of ground clearing.  Food scraps and other forms of organic garbage would have been kept out of areas used for sleeping.  Storage areas often display mid-level phosphate increases over the entire area that was used for storage.  The resultant increase in phosphate levels is from the collection of organic debris between the stored items, and a lack of clearing due to the presence of those items.  Food preparation/consumption areas, such as areas around hearths, show overall increases in phosphate content and isolated peaks of relatively very high phosphate content within the area.  This patterning results from the increased presence of ash and the incorporation of food scraps into the occupation surface.  Receiving/living areas will maintain relatively low levels of phosphate content due to the sweeping of organic debris to preserve a cleared space.  Organic debris may be generated in these areas as a result of craft working, eating and other activities, but the debris is most often not allowed to collect and decompose.  It is common to find a ring of increased phosphate content around the edges of receiving/living areas, where clearing of the area did not remove all traces of organic debris in corners and against structure walls.  It is also possible to identify internal partitions as voids in the phosphate patterning, especially between areas of increased phosphate content.

These interpretations of divisions of internal space were tested by Terry et al. (2004) in Aguateca, Guatemala.  A Classic Period Maya center and a modern thatched, dirt-floored guardhouse built in the early 1980s were both tested using phosphate analysis (Terry et al. 2004: 1239).  The food prepared in the modern structure used mainly maize, beans and fish, nearly the same as a Classic Period Mayan diet (Terry et al. 2004: 1240).   The results of phosphate analysis at the guardhouse showed high levels in the kitchen and all areas associated with the preparation, consumption and disposal of food.   Phosphate levels in the ancient structures were also high in all areas associated with food preparation, consumption, storage and disposal. Reception areas, sleeping areas and craft working areas, pathways and patios were all identifiable, and showed low phosphate levels (Terry et al. 2004: 1243).
     

Pattern Maps and Interpretations

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Interior division of space patterning, Dun Kilmore

Interior Division of Space Patterning within 
Dun Kilmore circular foundation

Interior division of space patterning is evident in the phosphate results within a circular foundation on the Dun Kilmore headland.  The foundation is located within the bank and ditch complex of the Dun Kilmore promontory fort, Achillbeg Island.  Two distinct phosphate patterns were identified within the foundation, showing a clear division of internal space (Figure 3).  The eastern half of the structure displays high phosphate levels (Level 3-4), and the western half of the structure displays low phosphate levels (Level 0-1).  The well-defined boundary between the two areas suggests an activity was carried out in the eastern section that generated organic debris, and that the western half was deliberately kept clear of this debris.  It is possible that a hearth and associated food production/consumption activities were carried out in the eastern half of the structure, and the western half of the structure may have been used for sleeping.

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Interior Division of Space Patterning at French Azilum

The patterning here consists of small Level 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 concentrations in an area located between a larger area of Level 3 and Level 4. A change in base-level can be an indication of a boundary between different levels of human activity, or modes of land-use.  The rectangular ingress of Level 3 base-level into the area of Level 4 base-level with a variety of phosphate concentrations indicates the presence of a feature that influenced the use-of-space in this area, and thus the deposition of organic debris.  The Level 5 concentration included in this zone is likely representative of the collection of organic debris on the exterior of this feature.  Several different levels of phosphate concentration in close proximity are generally indicative of an indoor, or specific activity, area.  It is possible to suggest the presence of an archaeological feature in this area due to the presence of the smaller varied concentrations in a rectangular area of base-level 3 that protrudes into the area of base-level 4.  Interior divisions of space can often be used to identify structures because that patterning can be much more visible than structure patterning.

Johanna Ullrich, Ph.D.