Mapping the human record in the British early Palaeolithic: evidence from the Solent River system
Ashton, N. and Hosfield, R. (2010) Mapping the human record in the British early Palaeolithic: evidence from the Solent River system. Journal of Quaternary Science, 25 (5). pp. 737-753. ISSN 0267-8179
To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/jqs.1350
The lithic record from the Solent River and its tributaries is re-examined in the light of recent interpretations about the changing demography of Britain during the Lower and early Middle Palaeolithic. Existing models of the terrace stratigraphies in the Solent and its tributary areas are reviewed and the corresponding archaeological record (specifically handaxes) for each terrace is assessed to provide models for the relative changes in human occupation through time. The Bournemouth area is studied in detail to examine the effects of quarrying and urbanisation on collection history and on the biases it introduces to the record. In addition, the effects of reworking of artefacts from higher into lower terraces are assessed, and shown to be a significant problem. Although there is very little absolute dating available for the Solent area, a cautious interpretation of the results from these analyses would suggest a pre-Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 12 date for the first appearance of humans, a peak in population between MIS 12 and 10, and a decline in population during MIS 9 and 8. Owing to poor contextual data and small sample sizes, it is not clear when Levallois technology was introduced. This record is compared and contrasted to that from the Thames Valley. It is suggested that changes in the palaeogeography of Britain, in particular land connections to the continent, might have contributed to differences in the archaeological records from the Solent and Thames regions.