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Mesolithic coastal community perception of environmental change in the southern North Sea basin

Mesolithic coastal community perception of environmental change in the southern North Sea basin
Mesolithic coastal community perception of environmental change in the southern North Sea basin
This thesis applies a multi-scalar, multi-disciplinary approach to evaluate the ways in which we have constructed the Mesolithic for the purposes of archaeological research. The human-environment relationship in the southern North Sea basin is used as the lens through which this period is reexamined and redefined. Exploring the nature of this complex interaction on the macro, meso and micro-scale provides greater insight into what it meant to dwell within this landscape during the Mesolithic period.

In discussing scales of approach, the means by which research is divided over space and time become a decisive element. The use of political borders to orientate prehistoric archaeology is critically examined and a diffuse structure based on environmental parameters key to the Mesolithic experience of the southern North Sea landscape is offered as a better alternative. Due to the time-transgressive nature of Mesolithic chronology in the North Sea basin, temporal divisions framing the research period, nominally 11,700BP to 7,000BP, are equally permeable; the larger chronological context from the end of the Last Glacial Maximum to the early Neolithic is incorporated into interpretations.

To build a multi-scalar interpretation, data from the southern North Sea Mesolithic is analysed at the macro, meso and micro scales. At the micro-scale, a case study in the Waveney valley is used to ground the ideas set forth in this thesis in the complex reality of combining archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data to form interpretations. A database of 2000 boreholes is used to form an understanding of the Mesolithic environment at key stages in the development of this landscape. This is compared with the archaeological record for the region and the possible human perceptions of environmental change during the Mesolithic period are discussed.

At each scale, the persistent importance of dynamic change across each axis of evidence considered; environmental, cultural and conceptual; is apparent. This idea of dynamism is, therefore, suggested as the best categorisation of what the Mesolithic experience the southern North Sea landscape; one which provides a more sympathetic and useful conceptualization of the Mesolithic period. It is, therefore, argued that the application of a multi-scalar, multi-disciplinary approach, reflecting this new definition, is substantiated as the most constructive means of carrying out future interpretation.
Dewing, Elizabeth
47b4e1af-a955-48f2-920c-180ad4d0067e
Dewing, Elizabeth
47b4e1af-a955-48f2-920c-180ad4d0067e
Dix, Justin
efbb0b6e-7dfd-47e1-ae96-92412bd45628
Sturt, Fraser
442e14e1-136f-4159-bd8e-b002bf6b95f6
Davies, Simon
5042ec27-3fcd-4ddb-bc0c-8c5578a0e50b

(2012) Mesolithic coastal community perception of environmental change in the southern North Sea basin. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 485pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis applies a multi-scalar, multi-disciplinary approach to evaluate the ways in which we have constructed the Mesolithic for the purposes of archaeological research. The human-environment relationship in the southern North Sea basin is used as the lens through which this period is reexamined and redefined. Exploring the nature of this complex interaction on the macro, meso and micro-scale provides greater insight into what it meant to dwell within this landscape during the Mesolithic period.

In discussing scales of approach, the means by which research is divided over space and time become a decisive element. The use of political borders to orientate prehistoric archaeology is critically examined and a diffuse structure based on environmental parameters key to the Mesolithic experience of the southern North Sea landscape is offered as a better alternative. Due to the time-transgressive nature of Mesolithic chronology in the North Sea basin, temporal divisions framing the research period, nominally 11,700BP to 7,000BP, are equally permeable; the larger chronological context from the end of the Last Glacial Maximum to the early Neolithic is incorporated into interpretations.

To build a multi-scalar interpretation, data from the southern North Sea Mesolithic is analysed at the macro, meso and micro scales. At the micro-scale, a case study in the Waveney valley is used to ground the ideas set forth in this thesis in the complex reality of combining archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data to form interpretations. A database of 2000 boreholes is used to form an understanding of the Mesolithic environment at key stages in the development of this landscape. This is compared with the archaeological record for the region and the possible human perceptions of environmental change during the Mesolithic period are discussed.

At each scale, the persistent importance of dynamic change across each axis of evidence considered; environmental, cultural and conceptual; is apparent. This idea of dynamism is, therefore, suggested as the best categorisation of what the Mesolithic experience the southern North Sea landscape; one which provides a more sympathetic and useful conceptualization of the Mesolithic period. It is, therefore, argued that the application of a multi-scalar, multi-disciplinary approach, reflecting this new definition, is substantiated as the most constructive means of carrying out future interpretation.

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More information

Published date: September 2012
Organisations: University of Southampton, Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 367008
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/367008
PURE UUID: 8972475f-5632-4a9a-8126-865fec4523ed
ORCID for Simon Davies: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1830-5403

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 22 Oct 2014 11:23
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 16:59

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Contributors

Author: Elizabeth Dewing
Thesis advisor: Justin Dix
Thesis advisor: Fraser Sturt
Thesis advisor: Simon Davies ORCID iD

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