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Title: The Great Fossil Mine of the southern North Sea : exploring the potential of submerged Palaeolithic archaeology
Author: Bynoe, Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 1252
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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This research explores the potential of the submerged Palaeolithic archaeology of the southern North Sea for answering questions about how hominins occupied and adapted within their environments in these northerly latitudes throughout the Pleistocene. Recent coastal discoveries in East Anglia have demonstrated occupation as far back as ~1 million years, and yet our appreciation of the how, why and who of this occupation is missing a crucial piece of its puzzle; excluding these now-submerged landscapes is an active bias on our understanding, truncating the archaeological record. Having been subjected to repeated glaciations, trans- and regressions, the very processes that led to the terrestrial exposure of these areas have subsequently led to their neglect: the assumption that pre-LGM deposits will have been eroded or re-worked has prevailed. Recent work, however, has demonstrated the inaccuracy of this assumption, with evidence for extant Pleistocene-age deposits, landscape features and archaeology. Unlocking the clear potential of these submerged landscapes now relies on the approaches that we take to their investigation as, to-date, all archaeological finds have been entirely by chance. In order to move beyond this reactive style of archaeology, methodologies must be developed which tackle these areas in a more focused and reasoned way. The research undertaken throughout this PhD makes steps towards this. Starting from no baseline understanding of the nature of the existing resource, this work located, collated and analysed a prolific collection of 1,019 faunal specimens. Recovered by the 19th and 20th Century UK trawling industry, the development of historical methods has elucidated their locations and conditions of collection. Combining this locational information with species taxonomic evolution, the emergent spatio-temporal patterns provide a fresh understanding of the integrity of the extant deposits and unique opportunities for locating them on the seabed. These results are presented at a range of scales: • First, a broad-scale understanding of offshore regions across the southern North Sea which have demonstrated a dominance of cold-stage species from MIS 8-MIS 2. • Secondly, a local scale: linking faunal remains with seabed features in the near shore area off Happisburgh, identifying Early and early Middle Pleistocene assemblages related to exposures of the CFbF. • Finally, a discrete, high resolution area of seabed off the coast of Clacton has been identified. Through the collection of swath bathymetry, this area has shown the exciting correlation of Pleistocene seabed deposits and faunal remains. This research presents a significant move towards a proactive approach to these submerged landscapes and represents a step-change in our ability to understand, locate and engage with this undervalued archaeological resource.
Supervisor: Sturt, Fraser ; Dix, Justin ; Parfitt, Simon Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: CC Archaeology ; GC Oceanography