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Title: Prehistoric avian, mammalian and H. sapiens footprint-tracks from intertidal sediments as evidence of human palaeoecology
Author: Barr, Kirsten
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 2150
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2018
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Footprint-tracks can provide information about the footprint maker, including the species, age, sex, and height. Combined with other datasets, this can contribute to our interpretation of animal exploitation, population dynamics, seasonality and site usage. The study focuses on the Late Mesolithic intertidal site of Goldcliff East, Severn Estuary. The formation of human footprints upon clayey silt sediment was studied. 177 participants were involved, aged between 3 and 72 years old. The relationship between footprint length, footprint width, age, sex, stature and weight was explored. The formation and identifying features of the footprints of 21 species of bird were also investigated. 856 Mesolithic footprint-tracks were recorded between 2001-2017. 342 were human, 270 bird and 67 mammal. A further 177 were possibly human, poorly eroded mammal or localised sediment disturbance. Eight species of bird were identified in this assemblage; 46% were common crane (Grus grus). The footprint-track trails of nine people were identified and combined with a further 12 from Scales' (2006) study. Stature equations suggest that the average height of an adult was 166.5cm. Sex could only be determined as male in footprint-track trails with footprints over 30cm. It was not possible to identify a difference in foot length between adult females and children over 10 years old. Footprints from Site M, N and S were made by humans walking north-east, and southwest, taking them towards and away from Goldcliff Island and a palaeochannel. 29% of the footprint-track trails were made by children. Archaeological and ethnographic evidence is presented alongside the footprint data, with the conclusion that Site N was used as a 'pathway' by children and possibly adult females to walk to a fishing area. Some of these children may have been aged 4 years or younger, suggesting that children played an active role in their society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral