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Title: The Palaeolithic of the Avon valley : a geoarchaeological approach to the hominin colonisation of Britain
Author: Egberts, Ella
ISNI:       0000 0004 6353 1159
Awarding Body: Bournemouth University
Current Institution: Bournemouth University
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis presents the results of a geoarchaeological investigation into the Palaeolithic occupation of the Avon valley, Hampshire. In this area, the Palaeolithic archaeological record is dominated by three large concentrations of lithic artefacts, found at Bemerton, Milford Hill and Woodgreen, against a background scatter of isolated finds. These prolific assemblages are amongst the largest concentrations of Palaeolithic finds in Britain. Their contribution to the understanding of hominin presence and behaviour in northwest Europe has though remained largely obscured due to the complex depositional context of Pleistocene fluvial terraces and limited age constraints of these sites. This thesis discusses the current knowledge of the Pleistocene palaeogeography and hominin occupation of Britain and how a geoarchaeological reinvestigation into the Avon valley archaeological record can contribute to the understanding of the British Palaeolithic. The study of seven Pleistocene fluvial terrace exposures, sedimentological analysis, and examination of environmental indicators provide information about terrace formation and Pleistocene landscape evolution in the valley and the depositional context of the three main Palaeolithic sites. Optically stimulated luminescence dating of fine-grained sediments from a sequence of six different terraces is used to create a chronometric framework for landscape evolution and the archaeological record. The results indicate that hominins were present in the Avon valley between MIS 10 and 8, in a period that has previously been characterised by a general decline in Palaeolithic sites in Britain relative to MIS 13-10. The work demonstrates that hominins continued to reach the Avon valley, suggesting adaptive and cognitive developments to cope with colder climates and palaeogeographic changes in the Channel region. Furthermore, a comparison of the assemblages from Bemerton, Milford Hill and Woodgreen based on primary data gathered, shows that these assemblages are in ‘proximal context’ and represent the accumulation of lithic artefacts produced, used and left at these sites during repeated revisits over a considerable length of time, throughout all habitable phases of a glacial-interglacial or stadial-interstadial cycle. The location of these focal places within the river valley changed over time, either through transformations in the local environment and resource availability, through a difference in hominin landscape use and behaviour or through an interplay between these factors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available