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The Lower Palaeolithic site at Red Barns, Portchester: bifacal technology, raw material quality, and the organisation of archaic behaviour

The Lower Palaeolithic site at Red Barns, Portchester: bifacal technology, raw material quality, and the organisation of archaic behaviour
The Lower Palaeolithic site at Red Barns, Portchester: bifacal technology, raw material quality, and the organisation of archaic behaviour
The site at Red Barns was excavated in 1975, but the large lithic collection remained unstudied following preliminary examination. This paper reports on further analysis of the lithic material from the site, together with a reappraisal of the faunal remains and original mineralogical analyses, and the results of processing sediment samples from the 1975 excavation. An abundant molluscan assemblage was recovered from the deposits covering the main archaeological horizon, allowing climatic/environmental reconstruction and amino acid dating. The synthesis of these data indicates the site to be older than previously thought, dating to between 425,000 and 200,000 BP.

Analysis of the lithic material has suggested that the site is an undisturbed palimpsest of flint tools and debitage. The poor, severely frost-fractured nature of the raw material used for knapping, together with the location of the site on a Chalk outcrop, have enabled investigation of some assumptions about the influences upon knapping technology of i) poor quality raw material and ii) local availability of flint fresh from Chalk bedrock. The persistent manufacture of finely worked plano-convex handaxes suggests that, even in an area where fresh Chalk flint must have been abundant, the immediately available poor quality flint source was not a bar to formation of an assemblage dominated by handaxe production. Secondly, the emphasis on carefully shaped pointed plano-convex handaxes suggests that this shape was both deliberately imposed and not dictated by a lack of local availability of flint fresh from the Chalk. Behaviour at the site was investigated by analysis of the organisation of the lithic production and it was demonstrated that, while some handaxes and flake-tools were abandoned at the site and some flake core reduction also took place there, the dominant pattern was for handaxes to be made at the site and then removed and abandoned elsewhere.
0079-497X
209-257
Gamble, Clive
1cbd0b26-ddac-4dc2-9cf7-59c66d06103a
Wenban-Smith, Francis
d2cdf06f-ff1d-41f7-a57c-a9c8e25a2110
Apsimon, Arthur
b0dc806b-ed41-4c07-b5c7-6e5bf1520d0d
Gamble, Clive
1cbd0b26-ddac-4dc2-9cf7-59c66d06103a
Wenban-Smith, Francis
d2cdf06f-ff1d-41f7-a57c-a9c8e25a2110
Apsimon, Arthur
b0dc806b-ed41-4c07-b5c7-6e5bf1520d0d

Gamble, Clive, Wenban-Smith, Francis and Apsimon, Arthur (2000) The Lower Palaeolithic site at Red Barns, Portchester: bifacal technology, raw material quality, and the organisation of archaic behaviour. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 66, 209-257. (doi:10.1017/S0079497X0000181X).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The site at Red Barns was excavated in 1975, but the large lithic collection remained unstudied following preliminary examination. This paper reports on further analysis of the lithic material from the site, together with a reappraisal of the faunal remains and original mineralogical analyses, and the results of processing sediment samples from the 1975 excavation. An abundant molluscan assemblage was recovered from the deposits covering the main archaeological horizon, allowing climatic/environmental reconstruction and amino acid dating. The synthesis of these data indicates the site to be older than previously thought, dating to between 425,000 and 200,000 BP.

Analysis of the lithic material has suggested that the site is an undisturbed palimpsest of flint tools and debitage. The poor, severely frost-fractured nature of the raw material used for knapping, together with the location of the site on a Chalk outcrop, have enabled investigation of some assumptions about the influences upon knapping technology of i) poor quality raw material and ii) local availability of flint fresh from Chalk bedrock. The persistent manufacture of finely worked plano-convex handaxes suggests that, even in an area where fresh Chalk flint must have been abundant, the immediately available poor quality flint source was not a bar to formation of an assemblage dominated by handaxe production. Secondly, the emphasis on carefully shaped pointed plano-convex handaxes suggests that this shape was both deliberately imposed and not dictated by a lack of local availability of flint fresh from the Chalk. Behaviour at the site was investigated by analysis of the organisation of the lithic production and it was demonstrated that, while some handaxes and flake-tools were abandoned at the site and some flake core reduction also took place there, the dominant pattern was for handaxes to be made at the site and then removed and abandoned elsewhere.

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Published date: January 2000
Organisations: Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 391505
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/391505
ISSN: 0079-497X
PURE UUID: 1f8eaeeb-662a-49c3-b735-59e491c2429f

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Date deposited: 21 Apr 2016 14:17
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 19:23

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Author: Clive Gamble
Author: Arthur Apsimon

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