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2. MESOLITHIC (c.9500 – c.4000 cal BC): RESEARCH AGENDA

Click here to see the recommended strategic objectives for this period.

2.1 Periods of transition

2.1.1: What can we deduce about the transition from late-glacial to early post-glacial hunter-gatherer societies?

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2.2 Spatial distribution of activity

2.2.1: How were open-air and cave/rock shelter sites distributed across the region, and how might the pattern of activity have changed over time?

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2.2.2: How were sites distributed across low-lying and upland areas, and in particular how many sites might be concealed beneath alluvium, colluvium and other masking deposits or beneath the sea?

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2.2.3: How can HER records be updated to permit study of changing activity patterns between the earlier and later Mesolithic periods?

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2.2.4: How can we ensure the extension of fieldwalking surveys to previously untargeted areas, and in particular to comparatively poorly studied landscapes (e.g. Coal Measures)?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
05/06/2019
Date of next review:
05/06/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
East Midlands Historic Environment Research Framework
Categories:
MESOLITHIC, SITE, PALAEOCHANNEL, UNASSIGNED
Linked Strategy(s):
Characterise the regional and local evidence for Mesolithic activity, Investigate the topographic locations of activity foci

2.3 Identification of site types

2.3.1: How were caves and rock shelters utilised in this period and what was their relationship to open sites?

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2.3.2: How far may studies of the size, shape and locational characteristics of lithic scatters and analyses of the associated lithic artefacts contribute to the identification of site types in the later and earlier Mesolithic?

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2.3.3: What range of structural remains may survive on open-air sites across the region (particularly below alluvium and other masking deposits)?

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2.3.4: How can we enhance the lithic scatter data retrieved during fieldwalking to clarify the size and shape of activity foci?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
05/06/2019
Date of next review:
05/06/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
East Midlands Historic Environment Research Framework
Categories:
MESOLITHIC
Linked Strategy(s):
Characterise the regional and local evidence for Mesolithic activity

2.3.5: How far can we elucidate by targeted excavation the character of sites represented by surface lithic scatters?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
05/06/2019
Date of next review:
05/06/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
East Midlands Historic Environment Research Framework
Categories:
MESOLITHIC
Linked Strategy(s):
Characterise the regional and local evidence for Mesolithic activity

2.4 Lithic artefact chronologies

2.4.1: Can we refine further by detailed typological analyses of survey and excavation the chronology of Mesolithic lithic industries, and in particular those overlapping Late Upper Palaeolithic and earlier Neolithic traditions?

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2.4.2: How far may radiocarbon dating contribute to refinement of lithic artefact chronologies?

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2.4.3: Can we elucidate the potential impact of environmental change upon lithic artefact technology?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
05/06/2019
Date of next review:
05/06/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
East Midlands Historic Environment Research Framework
Categories:
MESOLITHIC
Linked Strategy(s):
Investigate further the earlier Mesolithic lithic resource, Identify changing patterns of lithic artefact use in the later Mesolithic

2.4.4: Can we shed further light upon variations in the lithic assemblages surviving in earlier and later Mesolithic industries?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
05/06/2019
Date of next review:
05/06/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
East Midlands Historic Environment Research Framework
Categories:
MESOLITHIC
Linked Strategy(s):
Investigate further the earlier Mesolithic lithic resource, Identify changing patterns of lithic artefact use in the later Mesolithic

2.5 Production, distribution and use of lithic artefacts

2.5.1: How precisely can we define the sources of lithic raw materials and the routes of movement of raw materials and/or finished artefacts?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
05/06/2019
Date of next review:
05/06/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
East Midlands Historic Environment Research Framework
Categories:
MESOLITHIC
Linked Strategy(s):
Provenancing lithic raw materials: identify patterns of mobility, Develop a regional lithic raw material reference collection

2.5.2: Can we define with greater precision the spatial extent of typologically distinctive lithic assemblage types (Star Carr-type, Deepcar-type, etc.) and what may these distribution patterns imply?

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2.5.3: What light may further site-based studies of lithic reduction sequences shed upon spatial and temporal variations in the organisation of lithic production and changes in lithic technology?

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2.6 Environmental change and food procurement strategies

2.6.1: What can analyses of cave deposits, palaeochannel fills, upland peats and other deposits with potential for preserved pollen, charcoal and other organic remains contribute to studies of the earliest stages of woodland clearance and plant domestication?

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2.6.2: How can we maximise the potential of palaeochannels, upland or coastal peats and other organically rich deposits as sources of data on Early Holocene landscapes and changes in subsistence strategies and diet?

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2.6.3: How far may studies of Mesolithic diet and mobility patterns be advanced by stable isotope analyses of human bone?

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1 Comment

  1. vowen2

    Organisation:
    Archaeology South East
    Site/Project Name:
    Shardlow Quarry
    County/Unitary Authority:
    Derbyshire
    NGR
    SK 423286
    Report and Web Link:
    https://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeologyse/publications/monographs; Krawiek, C, Howard, A J, Gearey, B 2017 Beside the River Trent: Archaeological Investigations at Shardlow Quarry, Derbyshire (Spoilheap Monograph 14). Archaeology South-East & Trent and Peak Archaeology
    Agenda Topic(s)

    2.6.1 What can analyses of cave deposits, palaeochannel fills, upland peats and other deposits with potential for preserved pollen, charcoal and other organic remains contribute to studies of the earliest stages of woodland clearance and plant domestication?
    2.1.2 What can analyses of sites contribute to studies of continuity and change during the Mesolithic period?
    Research Objective(s)

    2A Enhance understanding of the environmental background to Mesolithic activity
    2H Investigate the transition from the Mesolithic to Neolithic
    How has this work addressed the Research Agenda and Strategy?

    At Shardlow, significant evidence for the character of the landscape begins in the Mesolithic and suggests a wooded valley floor environment with multiple stable river channels and larger expanses of wetland. Whilst evidence for Mesolithic activity is relatively rare and restricted to a small cluster of flints, it is probably that this environment would have offered bountiful resources to these early hunter gatherer communities that roamed the region. During the Neolithic the main course of the Trent was located further to the north and the floodplain was bisected by several smaller stream channels. Whilst the floodplain was vegetated with alder carr, the higher Pleistocene terrace to the northwest of the river was cleared and occupied by a large Neolithic cropmark complex containing several barrows and a cursus monument. The (Aston) cursus, is around 1500m long and in planform comprises a rectangular ditch and bank now ploughed flat. This entire cropmark complex provides evidence for significant ritual and funerary activity beginning within this landscape, but the only possible votive evidence from the wetlands comprises a single polished stone axe-head recovered from within a palaeochannel.

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