Raw material economics in their environmental context: an example from the Middle Palaeolithic of southern France
Lucy Wilson, 2011. "Raw material economics in their environmental context: an example from the Middle Palaeolithic of southern France", Human Interactions with the Geosphere: The Geoarchaeological Perspective, L. Wilson
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To understand the human behaviour reflected in stone tool assemblages, we must take into account the characteristics of the lithic resources, their distribution across the landscape, the characteristics of the landscape itself, the distribution of other resources such as water and food, and human strategies of mobility and resource exploitation. The assemblage from one layer of a Middle Palaeolithic rock shelter site, the Bau de l'Aubesier, shows that raw materials from different areas were used in different ways: they are more or less common in the assemblage, and they are more or less likely to have been brought in as raw material and knapped in situ. Various factors may have influenced this pattern. Measures of terrain difficulty and energy expenditure, the raw material quality, and characteristics of the sources are woven together to determine the attractiveness of each source. This is then placed in the context of the geology and geography of the area to distinguish a ‘main’ or core territory from a more extended territory visited during longer trips. The results show the value of taking a geoarchaeological perspective, which sees nature and culture as inextricably intertwined.
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Human impact on our environment is not a new phenomenon. For millennia, humans have been coping with – or provoking – environmental change. We have exploited, extracted, over-used, but also in many cases nurtured, the resources that the geosphere offers. Geoarchaeology studies the traces of human interactions with the geosphere and provides the key to recognizing landscape and environmental change, human impacts and the effects of environmental change on human societies. This collection of papers from around the world includes case studies and broader reviews covering the time period since before modern human beings came into existence up until the present day. To understand ourselves, we need to understand that our world is constantly changing, and that change is dynamic and complex. Geoarchaeology provides an inclusive and long-term view of human–geosphere interactions and serves as a valuable aid to those who try to determine sustainable policies for the future.