The current geography of north-west Europe, from the perspective of long term Pleistocene climate change, is temporary. The seaways that separate southern Britain from northern France comprise a flooded landscape open to occupation by hunter-gatherers for large parts of the 0.5 million years since the English Channel’s formation. While much of this record is now inaccessible to systematic archaeological investigation it is critical that we consider past human societies in the region in terms of access to, inhabitation in, and exploitation of this landscape.
This latest volume of the acclaimed Prehistoric Society Research Papers provides a starting point for approaching the Middle Palaeolithic record of the English Channel region and considering the ecological opportunities and behavioural constraints this landscape offered to Neanderthal groups in north-west Europe. The volume reviews the Middle Palaeolithic archaeological record along the fringes of La Manche in northern France and southern Britain. It examines this record in light of recent advances in quaternary stratigraphy, science-based dating, and palaeoecology and explores how Palaeolithic archaeology in the region has developed in an interdisciplinary way to transform our understanding of Neanderthal behaviour. Focusing in detail on a particular sub-region of this landscape, the Normano-Breton Gulf, the volume presents the results of recent research focused on exceptionally productive coastal capture points for Neanderthal archaeology. In turn the long-term behavioural record of La Cotte de St Brelade is presented and explored, offering a key to changing Neanderthal behaviour. Aspects of movement into and through these landscape, changing technological and raw material procurement strategies, hunting patterns and site structures are presented as accessible behaviours which change at site and landscape scales in response to changing climate, sea level and ecology over the last 250,000 years.
List of Figures and Tables Contributors Abstract French Language Abstract German Language Abstract Acknowledgements 1. Repeopling La Manche: survey and encounters By Matt Pope 2. La Cotte de St Brelade: a key early Middle Palaeolithic geoarchaeological sequence in La Manche By Andrew Shaw 3. In pursuit of the mammoths By Katharine Scott 4. The early Middle Palaeolithic ‘bone heaps’ from La Cotte de St Brelade reconsidered By Andrew Shaw, Beccy Scott and Matt Pope 5. Coming home: reconstructing place and landscape during the early Middle Palaeolithic at La Cotte de St Brelade By Andrew Shaw and Beccy Scott 6. Jersey’s north facing property: the Neanderthal sequence at La Cotte à la Chèvre Cave By Josie Mills 7. Understanding the context of Palaeolithic archaeology in the Normanno-Breton Gulf: the importance of the Pleistocene coastal sequences By Martin R. Bates, John Renouf and Marine Laforge 8. La Cotte, Neanderthals and Goldilocks: investigating hominin adaptations in the submerged landscapes of the Normanno-Breton Gulf By C. Richard Bates, Andrew Shaw, Martin R. Bates, Matt Pope and Beccy Scott 9. Archaeological sequences, framework, and lithic overview of the late Middle Pleistocene of northern France By David Hérisson, Jean-Luc Locht, Émilie Goval, Pierre Antoine and Sylvie Coutard 10. La Cotte in its regional context: reconsidering La Manche By Beccy Scott and Anne-Lyse Ravon 11. Mind and society: re-imagining the archaeology of Neanderthals By Clive Gamble and Matt Pope Bibliography Index
Beccy Scott is a curator at the British Museum employed on the Pathways to Ancient Britain project, with a passion for all things Neanderthal. Following a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge she obtained her PhD at Durham on the Early Middle Palaeolithic of Britain, in the course of which she became an associate of Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project (AHOB). She is particularly interested in the development of classic Neanderthal behaviours during the earlier Middle Palaeolithic and especially the organisation of technological behaviour in the landscape.
Andrew Shaw works as a Palaeolithic specialist for Wessex Archaeology having obtained his PhD from Durham on the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic of Syria. Subsequently, as a member of Southampton University’s Crossing the Threshold Project he focused on the Early Middle Palaeolithic material from La Cotte de St Brelade. His primary research interest is the reconstruction of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic technological decision making and human behaviour in relation to the varying landscapes and environmental contexts of the late Middle and Upper Pleistocene.
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