The palaeoenvironment of the important Middle Pleistocene hominin site at Boxgrove (West Sussex, UK) as delineated by the foraminifera and ostracods
Published:January 01, 2017
John E. Whittaker, Simon A. Parfitt, 2017. "The palaeoenvironment of the important Middle Pleistocene hominin site at Boxgrove (West Sussex, UK) as delineated by the foraminifera and ostracods", The Archaeological and Forensic Applications of Microfossils: A Deeper Understanding of Human History, M. Williams, T. Hill, I. Boomer, I. P. Wilkinson
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Even though other sites (Pakefield and Happisburgh in East Anglia) have now provided the earliest evidence of humans in Britain through their tools, Boxgrove (Eartham Quarry) in West Sussex, South England still contains their oldest teeth and bones found so far in this country, which have been dated to Marine Isotope Stage 13, between 525 000 and 478 000 years ago. Prolific finds of flint tools and vertebrate remains (both large and small) have made Boxgrove internationally famous. Microfossils (foraminifera and ostracods), however, have formed the means by which the palaeoenvironment has been reconstructed, and this is narrated here from nearshore marine, through intertidal flats in a semi-enclosed bay to, on final regression, a grassland plain with a series of freshwater pools fed by springs emanating from the Chalk. These pools were the waterholes to which the animals were attracted, and therefore formed the hunting grounds for hominins. Palaeoclimatic reconstructions using the Mutual Ostracod Temperature Range (MOTR) method show that sustained human occupation occurred during a period when the region was colder in winter and may have experienced greater seasonal temperature variation than the present day.
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The Archaeological and Forensic Applications of Microfossils: A Deeper Understanding of Human History
Microfossils are an abundant component of the sedimentary rock record. Their analysis can reveal not only the environments in which the rocks were deposited, but also their age. When combined, the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of microfossils offer enormous utility for archaeological and forensic investigations. Their presence can act as a geological ‘fingerprint’ and the tiniest fragment of material, such as a broken Iron Age potsherd, can contain a microfossil signature that reveals the geographical source of the materials under investigation. This book explores how microfossils are employed as tools to interpret human society and habitation throughout history. Examples include microfossil evidence associated with Palaeolithic human occupation at Boxgrove in Sussex, alongside investigations into human-induced landscape change during the Holocene. Further examples include the use of microfossils to provenance the source materials of Iron Age ceramics, Roman mosaics and Minoan pottery, in addition to their application to help solve modern murder cases, highlighting the diverse applications of microfossils to improving our understanding of human history.