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Title: Lithics to landscapes : hunter gatherer tool use, resource exploitation and mobility during the Mesolithic of the central Pennines, England
Author: Preston, Paul R.
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This study examines how Mesolithic lithic technology provides direct, yet often neglected, information about the Mesolithic hunter-gatherer mobility strategies in northern England, especially in relation to the Central Pennines {CP} of northwest England. It therefore provides a narrative which intimately links Mesolithic mobility strategies, settlement patterns, lithic raw material consumption, and tool use in the Central Pennine upland landscape and adjacent areas. The research area of the Central Pennines provides an ideal case study upon which to test current models of Mesolithic mobility and Mesolithic tool use because it is probably the densest distribution of Mesolithic sites currently known, and is in an area which has virtually no naturally occurring lithic resources which meant the Mesolithic people had to import all lithic raw materials. In order to elucidate the narrative, this study develops the Lithoscapes Referential Framework Model {LRFM} which integrates: 1} a methodological foundation for the documenting of lithic and landscape data including historiographic studies, and an explicitly defined lithic methodology, period and sub-period/sub-phase definitions with a radiocarbon chronology} with 2} an interpretive structure which defines conceptual links between the lithic evidence, hunter-gatherer mobility, and the landscape including the concepts of persistent places, risk, taskscapes, the choine operatoire model, positive feedback loops, and the equipotential hypothesis and idea of flexible tool use. The LRFM is placed at the , core of this study and enables the use of lithic evidence to document and investigate both Mesolithic choine operatoires on and between Central Pennine sites, as well as related aspects of Mesolithic mobility and the landscape. In particular, this study uses the lithic evidence to reappraise the mobility models that have been widely employed by archaeologists to explain Mesolithic settlement patterns. It shows that the Central Pennine Mesolithic sites were persistent places, that were repeatedly visited to exploit local plant and animal resources, had significant levels of site investment, were situated on Trans-Pennine pathways that linked rivers (which are argued to have been the main navigable transit routes), and were near to near to culturally significant 'handrail' landmarks. The lithics found on these persistent places are shown to have been exclusively imported from a hinterland covering Northern England. This hinterland compares well with population density reconstructions, and contains similar lithic styles (during the Early and Late Mesolithic). Consequently, this hinterland is suggested - to reflect a socio- ethnic/linguistic territory and/or that it implies that mobility was from throughout Northern England, with the Pennines being a key node or the Nexus of increasingly logistical resource and mobility networks. This therefore challenges traditional east-west mobility models, and the suggestions of smaller separate interior and coastal social territories. The long distance transport of the raw materials to the Central Pennines is shown to have impacted on the chaine operatoires and resulted in distinctly different Central Pennine lithic exploitation strategies (compared to those seen in the more traditionally researched lowland assemblages from karstic areas). In the Central Pennines impacts of the long distances included the virtual lack of on-site knapping, high levels of blade/let or tool importation, and the increased occurrence of flexible strategies (such as risk avoidance, caching, equipotentiality, and retooling). Furthermore, changes in raw material preferences appear to be directly linked to changes in the transit routes used (i.e. as part of changes in the larger mobility cycle over time). In addition, evidence is presented that shows there were distinct te~hnological traditions and cultural preferences in the Mesolithic of northern England. The evidence also implies that the Mesolithic knappers were extremely resourceful and able to adapt these formal trajectories in response to distance related stress (i.e. risk avoidance strategies), and the mitigation of unfavourable raw material properties. Deviation from the formal trajectories was also caused by the use of flexible strategies such as equipotentiality, retooling, and caching which also caused positive feedback loops on the chaine operatoires. Reasons for the flexible technological strategies are investigated including the necessity to import raw materials to the Central Pennines.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available