A regional model of hominid behaviour during the middle Pleistocene
Research into the British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic has traditionally focused upon artefact typology and the in situ stone and bone scatters from primary context sites. The majority of the evidence has been rejected as difficult data from which little or nothing can be said. In this thesis it is proposed that the data can support a wide range of archaeological investigations, and that their apparent weaknesses reflect the asking of unsuitable questions. This thesis presents a three-stage methodology for the interpretation of all the British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic data from the Hampshire Basin, southern Eng¬ land. The formation of the archaeological record is addressed with respect to the mod¬ ern excavation of Palaeolithic deposits, the chronology of the geological contexts, and the transportation and redeposition of lithic material into secondary contexts. The re¬ sults of the research methodology are interpreted for the management and protection of Britain's Palaeolithic heritage through spatial analytical techniques and GIS-based predictive modelling. Applications of the data to models of middle Pleistocene hominid behaviour are investigated, with particular emphasis upon long-term survival strategies and a highlow latitude comparison of demographic trends and population characteristics. Spatiotemporal patterns in regional lithic signatures indicate sporadic occupation of the region, characterised by discontinuous, low density populations. This model was supported by the demographic data generated from the regional evidence and existing on-site data. Other suitable applications of the data explored within the thesis are highlighted, including models of biface form and raw material transportation. The thesis demonstrates the potential of all the available data to investigations of the British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic. The secondary context data can offer a valu¬ able spatio-temporal perspective upon hominid behaviour during the middle Pleistocene which cannot be gained from the investigation of on-site data.