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Palaeolithic Geoarchaeology: Palaeolandscape Modelling and Scales of Investigation

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Abstract:

The present day landscape context of Palaeolithic artefacts is very different to that of their original use and deposition. Reconstructing the contemporary landscapes that were associated with even the best known sites is often unusually fraught with problems. This paper argues that a landscape-based approach is essential to contextualise our limited but growing knowledge of early human activity in Britain. Further, it argues through a series of case studies at macro, meso and micro level that the use of landscape concepts at a variety of spatial and temporal scales can increase our understanding of the Palaeolithic beyond individual sites. Most importantly, a landscape framework starts to give added meaning to the disturbed and transported material which predominates in fluvial contexts, but which has often been regarded as of insufficient significance to merit research protection or research. Indeed, researching such data in a landscape context – treating it as a time- and space-averaged sample – might give a more representative view of the Palaeolithic world, for example explaining general patterns of material cultural change, and of Palaeolithic peoples' landscape perceptions, than even highly preserved evidence from a few square metres representing one afternoon in the distant past.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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