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The geoarchaeology of Paleolithic rivers of southwest Britain

Laura S. Basell, Antony G. Brown, Robert T. Hosfield and Phillip S. Toms
The geoarchaeology of Paleolithic rivers of southwest Britain (in Geoarchaeology, climate change, and sustainability, Antony G. Brown, Laura S. Basell and Karl W. Butzer)
Special Paper - Geological Society of America (April 2011) 476: 23-36


In Britain, the majority of Lower and Middle Paleolithic archaeological finds come from river terrace deposits. The impressive "staircase" terrace sequences of southeast England, and research facilitated by aggregate extraction have provided a considerable body of knowledge about the terrace chronology and associated archaeology in that area. Such research has been essential in considering rates of uplift, climatic cycles, archaeological chronologies, and the landscapes in which hominins lived. It has also promoted the view that southeast England was a major hominin route into Britain. By contrast, the terrace deposits of the southwest have been little studied. The Palaeolithic Rivers of South West Britain (PRoSWEB) project employed a range of geoarchaeological methodologies to address similar questions at different scales, focusing on the rivers Exe, Axe, Otter, and the paleo-Doniford, all of which were located south of the maximum Pleistocene glacial limit (marine oxygen isotope stage [MIS] 4-2). Preliminary analysis of the fieldwork results suggests that although the evolution of these catchments is complex, most conform to a standard staircase-type model, with the exception of the Axe, and, to a lesser extent, the paleo-Doniford, which are anomalous. Although the terrace deposits are less extensive than in southeast Britain, differentiation between terraces does exist, and new dates show that some of these terraces are of great antiquity (MIS 10+). The project also reexamined the distribution of artifacts in the region and confirms the distributional bias to the river valleys, and particularly the rivers draining southward to the paleo-Channel River system. This distribution is consistent with a model of periodic occupation of the British peninsula along and up the major river valleys from the paleo-Channel River corridor. These data have a direct impact on our understanding of the paleolandscapes of the southwest region, and therefore our interpretations of the Paleolithic occupation of the edge of the continental landmass.

ISSN: 0072-1077
EISSN: 2331-219X
Serial Title: Special Paper - Geological Society of America
Serial Volume: 476
Title: The geoarchaeology of Paleolithic rivers of southwest Britain
Title: Geoarchaeology, climate change, and sustainability
Author(s): Basell, Laura S.Brown, Antony G.Hosfield, Robert T.Toms, Phillip S.
Author(s): Brown, Antony G.
Author(s): Basell, Laura S.
Author(s): Butzer, Karl W.
Affiliation: Paleoenvironmental Laboratory University of Southampton, School of Geography, Southampton, United Kingdom
Affiliation: Palaeoecology Laboratory University of Southampton, School of Geography, Southampton, United Kingdom
Pages: 23-36
Published: 201104
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
ISBN: 9780813724768
Meeting name: Geoarchaeology 2006
Meeting location: Exeter, GBR, United Kingdom
Meeting date: 20060910Sept. 10-13, 2006
References: 72
Accession Number: 2011-062839
Categories: Quaternary geology
Document Type: Serial Conference document
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 2 tables, sketch maps
N50°30'00" - N51°10'00", W03°00'00" - W01°45'00"
N50°49'60" - N51°19'60", W03°49'60" - W02°15'00"
N50°15'00" - N51°15'00", W04°30'00" - W03°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Texas at Austin, USA, United StatesUniversity of Reading, GBR, United KingdomUniversity of Gloucestershire, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201135
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