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Title: Food for thought: exploitation of nuts in prehistoric Europe
Author: Cunningham, Penny.
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2007
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Most research focusing on nut exploitation has concentrated on hazelnuts and the Mesolithic. Thus, there has been no serious archaeological research exploring the exploitation of any nut species beyond the Mesolithic. The aim of this thesis is to focus on the exploitation of four nut species (acorns, water chestnuts, hazelnuts and beechnuts), during several archaeological periods, but with a particular focus on the Mesolithic and Neolithic. Furthermore, taking a wide temporal approach forces us to examine the bias inherent in the way we interpret archaeological data between the Mesolithic and later periods. A series of hazelnut and. acorn processing experiments provide a means of identifying two possible functions of Mesolithic and Neolithic pits. The results from the experiments demonstrate that hazelnut and acorn pit storage and roasting were possible during both periods. Archaeological evidence, coupled with the results from the experiments, suggest that nut processing changed very little in domestic situations between the Mesolithic and later prehistoric periods, but locating nut processing within ceremonial and funerary contexts from the Neolithic, implies a change in nut exploitation. Additionally, the results from a gathering study and the ecological data questions a universal reliance on nuts during the Mesolithic. Rather than simply using nuts to determine local environment, or for dating purposes, the results from the processing experiments demonstrate that we can begin to use nut exploitation to understand past human behaviour. Understanding nut exploitation forces us to evaluation how we perceive similar activities that occurred during the Mesolithic and Neolithic in a new light. TIlls research ultimately gives a more holistic approach to the understanding of�· nut-people relationships in prehistory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available