Population movements into Europe during the Pleistocene : a comparative approach
This thesis concerns the movement of hominid groups into Europe during the Pleistocene. Four key issues are addressed by this project: the determination of whether it is possible to detect periods of movement in the archaeological record; the examination of whether archaeological treatments of movement have been justified; the establishment of a framework of interpretation of the archaeological record of movement in order to allow movement processes to be investigated; and the exploration of possible changes in the nature of population movements during the Pleistocene. In order to fulfill these aims, and to overcome the lack of a comparative ethnographic record of hunter-gatherer population expansion, a review of population movement processes described by academic disciplines that observe dispersals and migrations of human groups and non-human species, such as ecology, sociology and geography is presented. The processes highlighted by this review are used to build an interpretive framework of the behaviours associated with movement. The current state of archaeological knowledge of movement processes is discussed, in the form of a narrative analysis of the work of four archaeologists that have extensively worked on hominid dispersals. A methodology for the study of population movement processes in the Pleistocene is forwarded, and applied to the initial occupation of Europe during the Early and Middle Pleistocene, and the spread of Homo sapiens groups and the Upper Palaeolithic during the Late Pleistocene. The strength of the interpretive framework, and the usefulness of the concepts taken from contemporary observations of movements are considered, and the value of the archaeological approaches to the episodes of movement is evaluated. The interpretive framework is also used to assess whether social or biological models are more applicable to Pleistocene hominid movements. Recommendations for future studies of past population movements through the archaeological record conclude the thesis.