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Title: The role of aquatic systems and the re-occupation and settlement of the North European Plain during the Lateglacial
Author: Bramham Law, Cassian
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The Lateglacial between ∼14,600 - 11,500 cal yr BP is characterised by the rapid fluctuation of climatic conditions following the termination of the Last Glacial Maximum. During this period, the North European Plain (NEP) was re-occupied and settled by hunter-gather groups utilising a succession of lithic technocomplexes. Contrasting models of population expansion exist to explain the re-occupation of the NEP by ∼14,600 cal yr BP. Both rapid climatic amelioration and increased food resource availability on the NEP are suggested as possible stimuli. Studies of food resource availability as a stimulus for re-occupation and settlement of the NEP have long been dominated by the prevailing view that large mammal hunting was the dominant subsistence strategy. A number of archaeological finds across the NEP however, suggest that the exploitation of aquatic resources such as fish may have played a role in a more varied subsistence strategy during the period ∼14,600 - 11,500 cal yr BP. This thesis sets out to examine the development of palaeolake systems and examine their potential as a resource base for Lateglacial hunter-gatherers. This is achieved through the analysis of sedimentary organic matter and cladoceran records from five Lateglacial sites in northern Germany and southern Denmark, providing important information on basin development and the presence or absence of fish. The results suggest that significant variability existed in the development and resource availability of the basins over a local scale. Observed variability in the organic matter and cladoceran records within chronozone boundaries suggests that the Lateglacial – Holocene development of aquatic systems across the NEP cannot be solely explained by external climate change, and that local environmental and ecological factors are likely to have played a major part in their development. This thesis demonstrates that the local variance in aquatic conditions and fish populations would have offered, at best, limited and ephemeral resource availability and were therefore unlikely to have formed a major resource base for hunter-gatherer groups across the NEP. It is more likely that lakes were exploited opportunistically and as such formed only a minor component of a subsistence strategy more focussed on large mammal hunting.
Supervisor: Barton, Nick; Lane, Christine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Geography ; Europe ; Archeology ; Landscape ; Settlement ; Geochemistry ; Environmental change ; Hamburgian ; Lateglacial ; Tephra ; Cladocera