Terrestrial implications for the maritime geoarchaeological resource: A view from the Lower Palaeolithic
Hosfield, R. (2007) Terrestrial implications for the maritime geoarchaeological resource: A view from the Lower Palaeolithic. Journal of Maritime Archaeology, 2 (1). pp. 4-23. ISSN 1557-2285
To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s11457-007-9013-7
Stone tools and faunal remains have been recovered from the English Channel and the North Sea through trawling, dredging for aggregates, channel clearance, and coring. These finds highlight the potential for a maritime Lower Palaeolithic archaeological resource. It is proposed here that any Lower Palaeolithic artefacts, faunal remains, and sediments deposited in the maritime zone during dry, low-stand phases were once (and may still be) contextually similar to their counterparts in the terrestrial Lower Palaeolithic records of north-western Europe. Given these similarities, can interpretive models and analytical frameworks developed for terrestrial archaeology be profitably applied to an assessment of the potential value of any maritime resource? The terrestrial geoarchaeological resource for the Lower Palaeolithic is dominated by artefacts and ecofacts that have been fluvially reworked. The spatio-temporal resolution of these data varies from entire river valleys and marine isotope stages to river channel gravel bar surfaces and decadal timescales, thus supporting a variety of questions and approaches. However, the structure of the terrestrial resource also highlights two fundamental limitations in current maritime knowledge that can restrict the application of terrestrial approaches to any potential maritime resource: (i) how have the repetitive transgressions and regressions of the Middle and Late Pleistocene modified the terrace landforms and sediments associated with the river systems of the English Channel and southern North Sea basins?; and (ii) do the surviving submerged terrace landforms and fluvial sedimentary deposits support robust geochronological models, as is the case with the classical terrestrial terrace sequences? This paper highlights potential approaches to these questions, and concludes that the fluvial palaeogeography, Pleistocene fossils, and potential Lower Palaeolithic artefacts of the maritime geoarchaeological resource can be profitably investigated in future as derived, low-resolution data sets, facilitating questions of colonisation, occupation, demography, and material culture.