• The application of micro-Raman for the analysis of ochre artefacts from Mesolithic palaeo-lake Flixton

      Needham, Andy; Croft, Shannon; Kröger, Roland; Robson, Harry K.; Rowley, Charlotte C. A.; Taylor, Barry; Gray Jones, Amy; Conneller, Chantal; University of York; University of Chester; University of Manchester (Elsevier, 2017-12-20)
      Ochre is an important mineral pigment used by prehistoric hunter-gatherers across the globe, and its use in the Mesolithic is no exception. Using optical microscopy and Raman spectroscopy with micrometre spatial resolution (micro-Raman), we present evidence that confirms unambiguously the use of ochre by hunter-gatherers at Mesolithic sites surrounding Palaeo-Lake Flixton, Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire, UK. Our results suggest that people collected ochre and processed it in different ways, likely for diverse purposes. The quality and specificity of chemical characterisation possible with micro-Raman facilitates new avenues for further research on ochreous materials in Britain, including provenancing through chemical ‘fingerprinting’.
    • Being Mesolithic in life and death

      Cobb, Hannah; Gray Jones, Amy; University of Manchester; University of Chester (Springer International Publishing, 2018-08-25)
      Fifty years ago approaches to Mesolithic identity were limited to ideas of man the hunter, woman the gatherer, and evidence of non-normative practice was ascribed to "shamans" and to "ritual", and that was that. As post-processual critiques have touched Mesolithic studies, however, this has changed. In the first decade of the 21st century a strong body of work on Mesolithic identity in life, as well as death, has enabled us to think beyond modern western categories to interpret identity in the Mesolithic. Our paper reviews these changing approaches, offering a series of case studies of such approaches, before developing these case studies to advocate an assemblage approach to identity in the Mesolithic.
    • Cremation and the Use of Fire in Mesolithic Mortuary Practices in North-West Europe

      Gray Jones, Amy; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2017-04-27)
      Cremation is not widely recognized as a form of mortuary treatment amongst the hunter-gatherer communities of Mesolithic north-west Europe (broadly defined as c.9300 cal. BC to c.4000 cal. BC). However, discoveries within the last two decades have increased the evidence for the practice of cremation (as well as other forms of treatment, such as secondary burial) amongst the hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic, both in terms of the geographic distribution of the practice and its temporal spread throughout the period. Although rare in comparison to inhumation, cremation can now be seen to have been practiced throughout both the early and late Mesolithic and, whilst evidence is currently sparse within the modern areas of Germany and the British Isles, examples are known across Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, and the Republic of Ireland. The aim of this chapter is not to present a comprehensive catalogue of cremations in the Mesolithic, but rather to draw on a number of case studies to provide an overview of cremation practices, and the variety of post-cremation treatment of cremated remains, and to place this within the context of other forms of Mesolithic mortuary practice.