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Examination of Late Palaeolithic archaeological sites in northern Europe for the preservation of cryptotephra layers

Examination of Late Palaeolithic archaeological sites in northern Europe for the preservation of cryptotephra layers
Examination of Late Palaeolithic archaeological sites in northern Europe for the preservation of cryptotephra layers
We report the first major study of cryptotephra (non-visible volcanic ash layers) on Late Palaeolithic archaeological sites in northern Europe. Examination of 34 sites dating from the Last Termination reveals seven with identifiable cryptotephra layers. Preservation is observed in minerogenic and organic deposits, although tephra is more common in organic sediments. Cryptotephra layers normally occur stratigraphically above or below the archaeology. Nearby off-site palaeoclimate archives (peat bogs and lakes <0.3 km distant) were better locations for detecting tephra. However in most cases the archaeology can only be correlated indirectly with such cryptotephras. Patterns affecting the presence/absence of cryptotephra include geographic position of sites relative to the emitting volcanic centre; the influence of past atmospherics on the quantity, direction and patterns of cryptotephra transport; the nature and timing of local site sedimentation; sampling considerations and subsequent taphonomic processes. Overall, while tephrostratigraphy has the potential to improve significantly the chronology of such sites many limiting factors currently impacts the successful application.
tephrostratigraphy, lateglacial, early holocene, taphonomy
0277-3791
142-150
Housley, Rupert
7943396b-98af-4efb-bd24-cde5dbf94ac5
Gamble, Clive
1cbd0b26-ddac-4dc2-9cf7-59c66d06103a
Housley, Rupert
7943396b-98af-4efb-bd24-cde5dbf94ac5
Gamble, Clive
1cbd0b26-ddac-4dc2-9cf7-59c66d06103a

Housley, Rupert and Gamble, Clive (2015) Examination of Late Palaeolithic archaeological sites in northern Europe for the preservation of cryptotephra layers. [in special issue: Synchronising Environmental and Archaeological Records using Volcanic Ash Isochrons] Quaternary Science Reviews, 118, 142-150. (doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.05.012).

Record type: Article

Abstract

We report the first major study of cryptotephra (non-visible volcanic ash layers) on Late Palaeolithic archaeological sites in northern Europe. Examination of 34 sites dating from the Last Termination reveals seven with identifiable cryptotephra layers. Preservation is observed in minerogenic and organic deposits, although tephra is more common in organic sediments. Cryptotephra layers normally occur stratigraphically above or below the archaeology. Nearby off-site palaeoclimate archives (peat bogs and lakes <0.3 km distant) were better locations for detecting tephra. However in most cases the archaeology can only be correlated indirectly with such cryptotephras. Patterns affecting the presence/absence of cryptotephra include geographic position of sites relative to the emitting volcanic centre; the influence of past atmospherics on the quantity, direction and patterns of cryptotephra transport; the nature and timing of local site sedimentation; sampling considerations and subsequent taphonomic processes. Overall, while tephrostratigraphy has the potential to improve significantly the chronology of such sites many limiting factors currently impacts the successful application.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 7 May 2014
e-pub ahead of print date: 25 July 2014
Published date: 15 June 2015
Keywords: tephrostratigraphy, lateglacial, early holocene, taphonomy
Organisations: Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 386591
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/386591
ISSN: 0277-3791
PURE UUID: 86b69545-5772-4d66-a556-ce26033a7cdb

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Date deposited: 02 Feb 2016 12:30
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 20:49

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Contributors

Author: Rupert Housley
Author: Clive Gamble

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