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Late persistence of the Acheulian in southern Britain in an MIS 8 interstadial: evidence from Harnham, Wiltshire

Bates, M. R., Wenban-Smith, F. F., Bello, S. M., Bridgland, D. R., Buck, L. T., Collins, M. J., Keen, D. H., Leary, J., Parfitt, S. A., Penkman, K., Rhodes, E., Ryssaert, C. and Whittaker, J. E. (2014) Late persistence of the Acheulian in southern Britain in an MIS 8 interstadial: evidence from Harnham, Wiltshire. Quaternary Science Reviews, 101. pp. 159-176. ISSN 0277-3791

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.07.002

Abstract/Summary

This paper presents evidence of the discovery of a new Middle Pleistocene site in central southern England, with undisturbed evidence of hominin occupation well-dated to an interstadial towards the end of Marine Isotope Stage 8, c. 250,000 BP. The site consists of a preserved remnant of a river terrace and its alluvial floodplain overlain by chalk-rich bankside deposits, all abutting a Chalk bedrock riverbank. It preserves an area of occupation with activity focused on the riverbank, complemented by occasional activity on a palaeo-landsurface developed on the surface of the alluvial floodplain. Lithic technology at the site consists almost entirely of handaxe manufacture, allowing attribution to an Acheulian industrial tradition. Mammalian and other palaeo-environmental remains are present and associated with the occupation horizons, including large mammal bones showing signs of hominin interference. Dating was based on OSL determinations on the sediments and amino acid racemisation of molluscan remains, supported by biostratigraphic indications. Besides being a rare instance of an undisturbed Palaeolithic palaeo-landscape covering several hectares, the site contributes to wider Quaternary research concerns over the ability of Middle Pleistocene hominins to tolerate colder climatic episodes in higher latitudes, and over settlement history and changing lithic industrial traditions of northwest Europe in relation to climate change and British peninsularity. It is suggested that the Harnham evidence may represent an insular population that had persisted in southern Britain since MIS 10/9, which became locally extinct during the glacial maximum 8.2 marking the end of MIS 8.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Scientific Archaeology
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Social Archaeology
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:49271
Publisher:Elsevier

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