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Title: The palaeoenvironmental context of Lower Palaeolithic occupation in Southern Britain during Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage 11
Author: Sherriff, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 8498 7729
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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The British terrestrial record of MIS 11 is significant for two reasons. Firstly, MIS 11 is a key interglacial for understanding early hominin occupation in western Europe after a major glaciation, with the British Lower Palaeolithic record suggesting variations in the nature and timing of occupation during this period. Secondly, MIS 11 is one of the most appropriate climatic analogues for the current interglacial; this is of particular relevance in the light of evidence for climatic complexity in MIS 11c and the later stages of MIS 11. However, current understanding of the climatic structure of MIS 11 is restricted to marine and ice-core records, with few high-resolution terrestrial records from regions such as Britain. Consequently, the expression of this climatic interval in western Europe is not fully understood and as such, it has been difficult to place the archaeological record into a robust climatic framework. This study presents new datasets from selected MIS 11-aged sites in the British Isles (Marks Tey, Essex; Oughtonhead Lane, Hitchin, Hertfordshire; Dierden's Pit and Barnfield Pit, Swanscombe, Kent) using stable isotopic (d18O and d13C) analysis of freshwater carbonates, and a combination of sedimentological, micromorphological, geochemical and biological techniques. A modern stable isotope study investigating the environmental significance of d18O and d13C values of modern freshwater gastropods is also presented, and its application to understand MIS 11 climates discussed. Using this evidence, this thesis provides novel interpretations regarding: 1) the utilisation of stable isotopic analysis of freshwater carbonates to identify periods of environmental variability in terrestrial interglacial deposits, 2) evidence for sub-orbital climatic instability and associated landscape evolution in southern Britain during MIS 11, and 3) implications for the interpretation of the Lower Palaeolithic archaeological record. Evidence from this study reveals that climatic instability during both MIS11c and the later stages of MIS 11 can be identified in the British terrestrial record, and that the environmental backdrop of hominin occupation in this period is more complex than previously suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available