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Coastal environments and their role in prehistoric migrations

Westley, Kieran and Dix, Justin (2006) Coastal environments and their role in prehistoric migrations Journal of Maritime Archaeology, 1, (1), pp. 9-28. (doi:10.1007/s11457-005-9004-5).

Record type: Article


In recent years, increased attention has been turned towards the role of coastal environments in facilitating the global dispersal of humans. Previous approaches have focused on locating, dating and linking coastal archaeological sites, in order to create an overall impression of population movement across continents. When considerations of the actual process of colonization have been presented, they have been predicated on a series of assumptions regarding the nature of the coastal environment. The most important of these is that the coastal zone is homogenous and stable, on space and time scales relevant to human migration. This paper aims to test this and other assumptions by considering the true nature of the palaeo-coastal zone on global to continental scales and on timescales commensurate with migrating populations. Evidence is presented from Pleistocene and Holocene palaeo-environmental and archaeological records, so covering the major migrations of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic. The principal conclusion of this study is that the coastal zone is in fact characterized by a significant degree of environmental heterogeneity and instability on a multitude of spatio-temporal scales. This in turn has significant implications for how we interpret the actual process of colonization.

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Published date: January 2006
Keywords: coastlines, palaeolithic, colonization, palaeo-environment, timescales, pleistocene
Organisations: Geology & Geophysics, Archaeology


Local EPrints ID: 40524
ISSN: 1557-2285
PURE UUID: 9d01967d-74c1-43d7-8927-b1d72fc1b920

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Jul 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:34

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