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The submerged archaeology of the North Sea: enhancing the Lower Palaeolithic record of northwest Europe

The submerged archaeology of the North Sea: enhancing the Lower Palaeolithic record of northwest Europe
The submerged archaeology of the North Sea: enhancing the Lower Palaeolithic record of northwest Europe

The Lower Palaeolithic hominin occupation of northwest Europe occurred during a period of significant climatic change. In Britain, hominin populations were present discontinuously, from strongly continental sites to those characterised by a balmy Mediterranean environment. Whilst apparently able to survive a range of conditions, the configuration of the associated landscapes, in particular the presence or absence of a land connection with the continent, would have had a fundamental impact on the density of hominin occupation in Britain at any given time. Similarly, the environments once present in the now-drowned North Sea Basin and Channel regions would presumably have played an important role in attracting and sustaining hominin populations. However, our understanding of the physical and environmental character of these landscapes, as well as the timing of marine transgressive and regressive periods, remains frustratingly murky, hindering the ability to imagine how these landscapes may have been used. A growing body of data from recent research and commercial offshore development is beginning to help researchers understand this issue, but there is still an immense amount of work to do. With the contribution that evidence from these lost landscapes could provide to Lower Palaeolithic archaeology as a focus, this paper begins with a review of the current state of affairs with regard to commercial and research methods and practices. It then discusses the ways that we are moving this forward through specific archaeological projects, providing tentative suggestions for how current methods could be developed and the kinds of information that these could provide.

Europe, Palaeogeography, Pleistocene, Submerged landscapes
0277-3791
1-14
Bynoe, Rachel
21c246e1-0fa1-48ba-acdc-d29cac364027
Bynoe, Rachel
21c246e1-0fa1-48ba-acdc-d29cac364027

Bynoe, Rachel (2018) The submerged archaeology of the North Sea: enhancing the Lower Palaeolithic record of northwest Europe. Quaternary Science Reviews, 191, 1-14. (doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.05.002).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Lower Palaeolithic hominin occupation of northwest Europe occurred during a period of significant climatic change. In Britain, hominin populations were present discontinuously, from strongly continental sites to those characterised by a balmy Mediterranean environment. Whilst apparently able to survive a range of conditions, the configuration of the associated landscapes, in particular the presence or absence of a land connection with the continent, would have had a fundamental impact on the density of hominin occupation in Britain at any given time. Similarly, the environments once present in the now-drowned North Sea Basin and Channel regions would presumably have played an important role in attracting and sustaining hominin populations. However, our understanding of the physical and environmental character of these landscapes, as well as the timing of marine transgressive and regressive periods, remains frustratingly murky, hindering the ability to imagine how these landscapes may have been used. A growing body of data from recent research and commercial offshore development is beginning to help researchers understand this issue, but there is still an immense amount of work to do. With the contribution that evidence from these lost landscapes could provide to Lower Palaeolithic archaeology as a focus, this paper begins with a review of the current state of affairs with regard to commercial and research methods and practices. It then discusses the ways that we are moving this forward through specific archaeological projects, providing tentative suggestions for how current methods could be developed and the kinds of information that these could provide.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 1 May 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 26 May 2018
Published date: 1 July 2018
Keywords: Europe, Palaeogeography, Pleistocene, Submerged landscapes

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 424867
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/424867
ISSN: 0277-3791
PURE UUID: d59f5aa9-e187-44e5-8ec1-4d83dc47f27e

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Date deposited: 05 Oct 2018 11:51
Last modified: 16 May 2019 16:30

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Author: Rachel Bynoe

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