Pengelly's Legacy Reconsidered: A GIS Approach to Spatial Analysis of Palaeontological and Archaeological Collections from Kents Cavern, England

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Biology (CMC), WM Keck Science (CMC), Biology (Pitzer), WM Keck Science (Pitzer), Biology (Scripps), WM Keck Science (Scripps), WM Keck Science

Publication Date



Tens of thousands of palaeontological and archaeological remains were collected by William Pengelly during 19th century excavations of Kents Cavern, but are now widely dispersed between museums. This has previously precluded spatial analysis. We have now assembled available museum records into a single database, and, using our previously-reconstructed Pengelly excavation map as a base, we have been able to exploit the unique Pengelly location code to set up a GIS mapping system. This allows, for the first time, the analysis of spatial patterns. In addition, the GIS serves to highlight potential problems of recording or curation in the original data. Here we report on the construction of the GIS system and its first use in the analysis of spatial distribution of bear remains. The maps demonstrate that Ursus deningeri entered the cave through a now-sealed High Level Chamber entrance at the back of the cave in the middle Pleistocene, whereas Ursus arctos accessed the cave in the late Pleistocene through the now-sealed Northeast Gallery entrance. The denning areas are reconstructed as Labyrinth/Bear's Den for U. deningeri and Vestibule/Great Chamber for U. arctos. Considerable post-mortem re-distribution of the remains of both species is indicated.

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