ABSTRACTS, VOLUME 63, 1997
Years and More in Tropical Australia: Investigating Long-Term Archaeological
Trends in Cape York Peninsula|
Radiocarbon Evidence for the Lateglacial Human Recolonisation of Northern Europe
Dating and the Prehistory of the Balearic Islands
Rock Art in Morocco
Meaning in the Later Prehistoric Rock-Engravings of Mont Bégo, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Bronze Age `Barrows' and Funerary Rites and Rituals of Cremation
Leskernick: Stone Worlds; Alternative Narratives; Nested Landscapes
A Middle Bronze Age Round-house at Glanfeinion, near Llandinam, Powys
Early Ironworking and its Impact on the Environment: Palaeoecological Evidence from Bryn y Castell Hillfort, Snowdonia, North Wales
The Iron Age Enclosures and Prehistoric Landscape of Sutton Common, South Yorkshire
The Wickliffe Mounds Project: Implications for Late Mississippi Period Chronology, Settlement, and Mortuary Patterns in Western Kentucky
The Upper Palaeolithic Site of Ciuntu on the Middle Pruth, Moldavia: a multidisciplinary study and reinterpretation
Boxgrove, West Sussex: Rescue excavations of a Lower Palaeolithic Landsurface
(Boxgrove Project B, 1989-91)
Palaeolithic Barbed Point from Gransmoor, East Yorkshire, England
37,000 Years and More in Tropical Australia:
Investigating Long-Term Archaeological Trends in Cape York PeninsuLA
By Bruno David and Harry Lourandos
The prehistory of Cape York
Peninsula, in tropical northern Australia, has been more intensively
investigated than that of most other parts of the continent. As a result,
a considerable database now exists by which long-term archaeological
trends can be evaluated. In this paper we investigate temporal trends
in occupational intensities and patterns of land use during the last
37,000 years by employing: 1, the temporal distribution of all radiocarbon
dates obtained for the region; 2, the numbers of sites occupied through
time; and 3, rates of establishment of new sites during the course of
prehistory. These archaeological trends are then compared with the palaeo-environmental
record of the region to determine its potential influence on the trends.
We conclude that an initial, long period of regional occupation occurred
(c. 37,000-4000 BP) when cultural trends varied in tandem with gross
environmental fluctuations. This was followed by a late Holocene period
(post 4000 BP) when cultural trajectories diverged significantly from
environmental trends. This suggests that more complex Aboriginal demographic
processes were set in train during the late Holocene, associated with
social structures that were more dynamic than previously. We suggest
that while changing patterns of land use may be apparent, their understanding
requires an enquiry into periods of emergence - that is, their immediate
historical antecedents. These results have broader implications for
our understanding of Australian prehistory and the prehistory of other
examines, through the use of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry dating, the
database of Lateglacial cultures involved in the recolonisation of northern
Europe. The aim is not only to determine the timing of that recolonisation,
but also to propose a general model of hunter-gatherer colonisation
at a sub-continental scale. The question is addressed of how long the
period of abandonment of northern Europe during the Würm/Weichsel
glaciation may have lasted, and when it both started and came to an
end. A series of questions is asked concerning the processes and mechanics
of recolonisation and the sequences for specific areas are examined.
AMS radiocarbon dating shows that a two stage process was involved,
which has important implications for our analysis of regional settlement
patterns and the changing scale of Lateglacial hunting systems. Reolonisation
was a dynamic process, integral to, and internally driven by, the social
life of Lateglacial hunters. It may have been constrained by environmental
and resource factors, which we have emphasised here, but ultimately
it was an historical, social process and should be similarily regarded
to that of the farmers. By measuring rates of expansion data are provided
for use in other studies of hunter-gatherer colonisation.
The aim of this paper is to establish an absolute
chronology for the prehistoric entities and sites of the Balearic islands.
We begin with the human settlement of each island and continue with
the temporalities of the most important entities and materials of the
Pretalayotic period: the Beaker phenomenon, megalithic tombs, artificial
burial caves, naviforms, and navetas. Then we define the chronological
limits of the Talayotic period, giving special attention to its internal
sequence and to the chronology of its distinctive monuments - the talayots,
sanctuaries, and taulas. Finally we suggest the chronological limits
of the material and sites ascribed to the Post-talayotic period. The
approach adopted here is based on a detailed analysis of the radiocarbon
dates corresponding to the main archaeological periods mentioned above.
The information potential of each date has been evaluated critically
in terms of the archaeological contexts from which samples were obtained.
Rock art in Morocco is widespread and varied, but
little known in English-speaking circles. The present paper aims to
present a broad outline of this art - almost entirely represented by
engravings - as it is known today. A brief survey of past research is
given. The distribution of sites is indicated, showing the country to
be roughly divided into two areas: the High Atlas mountains and the
sub-Saharan regions to the south. Four major groups of engravings are
identified, according to theme, technique, and, to a certain extent,
style. In the absence of radiocarbon or other datings, the only clues
to the chronology of the engravings come from datable material objects
or events. None of this art is thought to be older than Neolithic and
the most recent engravings certainly date from early historical times.
Problems of conservation are discussed, along with measures being taken
both to protect the sites and to extend research on this informative
aspect of Morocco's past.
The later prehistoric rock-engravings of Mont Bégo,
in the Maritime Alps on the French-Italian border, provide a rare possibility
of grasping the meaning of a group in prehistoric art. Two elements
in their limited repertoire of forms are daggers and halberds, which
also occur as physical objects or as images in the contemporary sites
of adjacent north Italy; their contexts show they are, in that area,
associated with the status of adult males in society. That same interpretation
is applied to the Mont Bégo figures, and this is found congruent
with other motifs - especially ploughs and cattle - in the repertoire.
It may explain also the other common motif, a geometrical form interpreted
as map of a prehistoric farmstead, by associating it with plough agriculture
and land division. The insights developed from the study for what `meaning'
amounts to in the study of prehistory are set down.
This paper discusses the evidence for pyre sites,
debris, and technology associated with the disposal of cremated human
remains in Bronze Age `barrows'. The use of the terms such as `cremation',
`cremation burial', and `cremation-related feature' are examined. The
types of evidence for the remains of cremation-related activities which
survive on archaeological sites are described with examples and compared
with the results of modern experimental data. It is concluded that a
wealth of information may be recovered in relation to the funerary rites
and rituals of cremation and that Bronze Age barrows hold a potentially
unique position in being able to provide evidence of various aspects
of the funerary activity under one `mound'. While the archaeological
components within different types of cremation-related features are
often the same, it is the relationship between the various components
within the deposit which have the potential to assist in our understanding
of aspects of procedure, rites, and rituals attendant on the disposal
of the dead by means of cremation.
The first season of an on-going project focused on Leskernick Hill, north-west Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, entailed a preliminary settlement survey and limited excavation of a stone row terminal. Leskernick comprises a western and a southern settlement situated on the lower, stony slopes of the hill and including 51 circular stone houses constructed using a variety of building techniques. Walled fields associated with these houses vary in size from 0.25-1 ha and appear to have accreted in a curvilinear fashion from a number of centres. Five small burial mounds and a cist are associated with the southern settlement, all but one lying around the periphery of the field system. The western settlement includes `cairn-like' piles of stones within and between some houses and some hut circles may have been converted into cairns. The settlements may have been built sequentially but the layout of each adheres to a coherent design suggesting a common broad phase of use. The southern settlement overlooks a stone-free plain containing a ceremonial complex.
The paper presents a narrative account of the work
and considers not only the form, function, and chronology of the sites
at Leskernick but also seeks to explore the relationships between people
and the landscape they inhabit; the prehistoric symbolic continuum from
house to field to stone row etc, and to investigate the relationship
between archaeology as a discourse on the past and archaeology as practice
in the present. It considers how the daily process of excavation generates
alternative site histories which are subsequently abandoned, forgotten,
perpetuated or transformed.
Small-scale rescue excavations during the course of
pipeline construction have revealed a single Middle Bronze Age round-house,
ring-ditch, and pits on a lowland site in the upper Severn valley with
associated radiocarbon determinations which suggest a date within the
range 1400-1170 cal BC. Associated finds include a large assemblage
of charred naked barley and plain and decorated vessels of cordoned,
bucket, and barrel urn traditions, together with a quern and a rubbing
stone. The round-house, the first building of this date to be found
in central Wales, can be paralleled with ones of similar date elsewhere,
especially in southern England.
The environmental impact of the Late Iron Age and
Romano-British ironworking hillfort of Bryn y Castell in upland southern
Snowdonia was investigated by multiple profile pollen and charcoal analysis
of nearby valley mire and blanket peat deposits. Pollen data, collected
from five radiocarbon dated profiles within a 1.5 km radius of the hillfort,
indicate that ironworking activities apparently had only localised impact
on the environment. Small-scale declines in certain arboreal taxa can
be correlated with occupancy of the site. Betula and Alnus appear to
be most affected, with minor loss of Corylus and Quercus. The pattern
of arboreal taxa and charcoal values during the ironworking period is
considered in the context of evidence for deliberate woodland management,
the scale and duration of ironworking, and alternative forms of human
disturbance. Overall, the results of the pollen analysis suggest that
woodland recovered to its pre-ironworking level except in the immediate
vicinity of the hillfort. Integration of the archaeological and palaeoecological
data allowed understanding of the resource-based aspects of this prehistoric
industrial site and the results have wider implications for the field
of experimental industrial archaeology.
With contributions by S. Boardman, B. Brayshay, P.C. Buckland, A. Chadwick, M. Charles, G. Crawley, C. Cumberpatch, M. Dearne, J.A. Edmond, D. Hale, J. Henderson, M. Lomas, C. Merrony, J. Moore, A. Myers, T. Roper, J.-L. Schwenninger, M. Taylor, N. Whitehouse and M.L. Wright
The Early Iron Age enclosures and associated sites
on Sutton Common on the western edge of the Humberhead Levels contain
an exceptional variety of archaeological data of importance not only
to the region but for the study of later prehistory in the British Isles.
Few other later prehistoric British sites outside the East Anglian fens
and the Somerset Levels have thus far produced the quantity and quality
of organically preserved archaeological materials that have been found,
despite the small scale of the investigations to date. The excavations
have provided an opportunity to integrate a variety of environmental
analyses, of wood, pollen, beetles, waterlogged and carbonised plant
remains, and of soil micromorphology, to address archaeological questions
about the character, use, and environment of this Early Iron Age marsh
fort. The site is comprised of a timber palisaded enclosure and a succeeding
multivallate enclosure linked to a smaller enclosure by a timber alignment
across a palaeochannel, with associated finds ranging in date from the
Middle Bronze Age to the Roman and medieval periods. Among the four
adjacent archaeological sites is an Early Mesolithic occupation site,
also with organic preservation, and there is a Late Neolithic site beneath
the large enclosure. Desiccation throughout the common is leading to
the damage and loss of wooden and organic remains. It is hoped that
the publication of these results, of investigations between 1987 and
1993, will lead to a fuller investigation taking place.
The Wickliffe Mounds site is a Mississippian town
and mound centre dated to c. AD 1100-1350. Excavations at Wickliffe
Mounds from 1984-1996 have re-evaluated a 1932-1939 semi-professional
project and have provided additional data over much of the remaining
area of the site. The site was established c. AD 1100 as a small village
clustered tightly around a central plaza. From AD 1175 to c. 1350 the
Wickliffe people built two platform mounds next to the plaza plus several
smaller mounds around the site, and expanded the village area to the
edges of the bluff. The village was abandoned c. AD 1350, but a cemetery
appears to be intrusive, indicating the presence of a population in
the area with ties to the site. A scenario of a single chiefly cycle,
followed by dispersal of the population with continued use of the site
as an `empty' ceremonial centre, best fits current data.
Upper Palaeolithic Site of Ciuntu on the Middle Pruth, Moldavia: a multidisciplinary
study and reinterpretation
The Ciuntu rockshelter is situated in the north-western
part of the Republic of Moldova, on the left bank of the river Pruth.
It has a single Upper Palaeolithic layer of occupation, which was originally
regarded as Early Upper Palaeolithic and was assigned to the Brînzeni
archaeological culture. More recent investigations, including radiocarbon
dating, have led to a revision of this suggested age and classification.
The site is now regarded as belonging to the Middle Gravettian and is
dated to the beginning of the last glacial maximum.
With contributions by R.I. Macphail, A. Locker and J.R. Stewart
In 1988 an area of 12,000 m2 in Quarry 2 at Boxgrove, West Sussex, was identified as being under threat from gravel and sand extraction. It was decided to sample the threatened area in 1989 with a series of 6 m2 test pits. The results of this survey identified two areas that merited further investigation, and area excavations were carried out at Quarry 2/C and Quarry 2/D in 1990 and 1991 respectively. These concentrated on the main Pleistocene landsurface (Unit 4c) and revealed spreads of knapping debris associated with the production of flint handaxes. Two test pits and area Q2/C produced handaxes, over 90% of which had tranchet sharpening at the distal end. A small amount of core reduction and only a few flake tools were found: these were all from Quarry 2/C. Faunal remains were located in the northern part of the excavations where Unit 4c had a calcareous cover. In Quarry 2/C the bones of C. elaphus and Bison sp. exhibited traces of human modification.
The project employed two methods of artefact retrieval: direct excavation in metre squares and bulk sieving of units within them. Comparison of the results from these methods suggests that, when on-site time is limited, the integration of these methods is a valid technique in both qualitative and quantitative terms for data recovery. The excavated areas are interpreted as a tool-sharpening and butchery site that may have been a fixed and known locale in the landscape (Q2/C), and a location on the periphery of an area of intensive knapping reduction (Q2/D). Sedimentological and microfaunal analyses demonstrate that Unit 4c was formed as a soil in the top of a marine-lagoonal silt, the pedogenic processes being similar to those observed after draining Dutch polder lakes. The palaeoenvironment is interpreted as an area of open grassland with some shrub and bush vegetation. In places the surface of the soil supported small ephemeral pools and flashes. This area of grassland is seen as a corridor for herds of ungulates moving east and west between the sea to the south and the relict cliff and wooded downland block to the north. Within this corridor these herds were preyed upon by various carnivores, and hominids.
The temperate sediments at Boxgrove were deposited
in the later part of the Cromerian Complex and immediately pre-date
the Anglian Cold Stage; they are therefore around 500,000 years old.
The archaeological material from these and overlying cold stage deposits
is broadly contemporary with that at High Lodge, Suffolk and Waverley
An Upper Palaeolithic, uniserially barbed antler point, discovered during excavations of a Devensian Lateglacial sediment sequence in a quarry near Gransmoor, Yorkshire, England, is described. The stratigraphic context of the find is summarised, and the age of the implement can be confidently estimated to between 11,500 and 11,100 radiocarbon years BP on the basis of (i) a series of AMS radiocarbon dates, (ii) radiometric dating of the wood within which the barbed point was lodged, and (iii) biostratigraphic considerations. The barbed point from Gransmoor is probably unrivalled in Britain in terms of the stratigraphic and chronological context within which it can be assessed. Some suggestions are made concerning the manufacture and function of the barbed point on the basis of markings on the antler surface and remains of some of the original mastic, features which are extremely well preserved.
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