Pollen taphonomy at Shanidar Cave (Kurdish Iraq): An initial evaluation
Caves provide important locations for the study of ancient human activity and environment. One important strand of this ancient environmental work is palynology, yet the taphonomy of pollen in caves is locally contingent and often complex. Shanidar Cave in Kurdish Iraq was the site of important Neanderthal finds and early palynological research, but pollen taphonomy in the cave has not been previously studied, so it is difficult to judge what these ancient pollen assemblages might represent. In this paper, we present pollen from a transect of surface samples within the cave and from comparative surface samples from outside the cave. These show that at present there is a reasonably close correspondence between assemblages accumulating within and in the external environs of the cave, and with the local vegetation. This may suggest that stratigraphic samples may also reflect past local vegetation.