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Examining the relationship between environmental change and human activities at the dryland-wetland interface during the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic in Southeast England

Simmonds, M. (2017) Examining the relationship between environmental change and human activities at the dryland-wetland interface during the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic in Southeast England. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

This thesis investigates environmental change across the Late Glacial and Early Holocene boundary in southeast England, and places these results within their archaeological setting. This has developed our understanding of vegetation change during a period of climatic variability, and enhanced our knowledge of environmental change and the environmental context of human activities. The County of Surrey formed the research focus because of the diverse assemblages of Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology, and preliminary studies suggested a relationship with human activities at the ecotonal boundary between wetland and dryland. The research focused on palaeoenvironmental investigations from four sites: Thursley Bog, Ockley Bog, Elstead Bog B and Langshot Bog, studied using sedimentological, pollen, stable isotope and microscopic charcoal analyses to generate high-resolution reconstructions of climate change, vegetation succession and fire histories. The results have provided important contributions to our understanding of climatic change and vegetation succession, with evidence for a downturn in climate during the Loch Lomond Stadial. Evidence also indicates the presence of Corylus, Alnus and Pinus at earlier dates than previously observed within southeast England. Analyses of archaeological data suggest that sites at the wetland/dryland interface are likely to have been frequently visited by Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic groups. The archaeological and palaeoenvironmental records suggest that people exploited their environment for hunting and gathering during the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic. During the Later Mesolithic there is some evidence for the anthropogenic use of fire to create or maintain woodland clearings to attract animals for hunting. Overall, this research has resulted in a greater picture of human activities and environmental change during the Late Glacial and Early Holocene in Surrey. It is likely that people interacted with the environment during the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic, but this was predominantly comprised of environmental exploitation rather than large-scale manipulation.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Branch, N., Hosfield, R. and Black, S.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:73342
Date on Title Page:2016

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