Palaeoenvironmental investigations of a Mesolithic–Neolithic sedimentary sequence from Queen’s Sedgemoor, Somerset
Published:January 01, 2017
Tom Hill, John Whittaker, Richard Brunning, Matt Law, Martin Bell, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Elaine Dunbar, Peter Marshall, 2017. "Palaeoenvironmental investigations of a Mesolithic–Neolithic sedimentary sequence from Queen’s Sedgemoor, Somerset", 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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A sediment core extracted from Queen’s Sedgemoor, Somerset, SW England, has undergone high-resolution radiocarbon dating, with subsequent directed palynological, diatom, microfossil and mollusc analyses focusing on the sedimentary sequence associated with the late Mesolithic and early Neolithic periods. The microfossil and macrofossil evidence supports stratigraphic evidence for hydroseral succession and the subsequent development of a raised bog. Such palaeoenvironmental investigations provided evidence of the changing character of the wetlands at a time when there is evidence of Mesolithic activity elsewhere in the Somerset Levels. While very low pollen counts limited the interpretive potential of deposits associated with the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition, the multi-proxy micropalaeontological study has revealed a clear picture of landscape change for much of the sedimentary archive, and has identified a new freshwater body within the Somerset Levels in an area of known human activity from the late Mesolithic onwards.
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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.