Exhibition Objects

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Section drawing © 2000 The British Museum

Section drawing

20th century drawing of a section through sediments in Pin Hole drawn by A.L. Armstrong

A schematic profile of the sediments in Pin Hole drawn by A.L. Armstrong. This profile represents the section at 24.6 metres (80') from the entrance at the close of excavations in 1936.

In this section, the cave-earth is shown divided by layers formed by slabs of rock which have fallen from the walls and roof of the cave. These layers do appear in Armstrong's earlier drawings and were doubted by other archaeologists. There is also evidence to suggest that the drawing should be regarded as representing Armstrong's interpretation of the stratigraphy rather than reality. Armstrong believed that the stalagmite at the top of the deposits and the layers of collapsed slabs formed in cold periods and he indicated cold stage faunas corresponding with these. He associated the cave-earth with warmer, interglacial conditions and human activity. We now consider this interpretation to be incorrect. The stalagmite formed in a warm phase whereas the only part of the cave-earth associated with warm conditions is the part identified as Post glacial, beginning about 10,000 years ago. Rather than being Last Interglacial between 130,000 and 110,000 years old, as Armstrong thought, evidence suggests that the cave-earth began to form after 64,000 years ago, perhaps as recently as 50,000 years ago. Similarly, Armstrong's suggestion that the lower cave-earth had been flooded by water melting from the surrounding ice fields causing the collapse of the cave walls, is also now considered unlikely. The more naturalist section drawing shown here as a related object is consequently more helpful for modern research.

Glossary: Calcite, Carbonate, Cave-earth, Flowstone, Glacial, Ice Age, Interglacial, Pleistocene, Sediment, Speleothem, Stalactite, Stalagmite, Travertine

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