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The resilience of postglacial hunter-gatherers to abrupt climate changeBlockley, Simon; Candy, Ian; Matthews, Ian; Langdon, Pete; Langdon, Cath; Palmer, Adrian; Lincoln, Paul; Abrook, Ashley; Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; et al. (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-03-26)Understanding the resilience of early societies to climate change is an essential part of exploring the environmental sensitivity of human populations. There is significant interest in the role of abrupt climate events as a driver of early Holocene human activity, but there are very few well-dated records directly compared with local climate archives. Here, we present evidence from the internationally important Mesolithic site of Star Carr showing occupation during the early Holocene, which is directly compared with a high-resolution palaeoclimate record from neighbouring lake beds. We show that, once established, there was intensive human activity at the site for several hundred years when the community was subject to multiple, severe, abrupt climate events that impacted air temperatures, the landscape and the ecosystem of the region. However, these results show that occupation and activity at the site persisted regardless of the environmental stresses experienced by this society. The Star Carr population displayed a high level of resilience to climate change, suggesting that postglacial populations were not necessarily held hostage to the flickering switch of climate change. Instead, we show that local, intrinsic changes in the wetland environment were more significant in determining human activity than the large-scale abrupt early Holocene climate events.
Scales of analysis: evidence of fish and fish processing at Star Carr.Robson, Harry K.; Little, Aimee; Jones, Andrew K. G.; Blockley, Simon; Candy, Ian; Matthews, Ian; Palmer, Adrian; Schreve, Danielle; Tong, Emma; Pomstra, Diederik; et al. (Elsevier, 2016-02-17)This contribution directly relates to the paper published by Wheeler in 1978 entitled ‘Why were there no fish remains at Star Carr?’. Star Carr is arguably the richest, most studied and re-interpreted Mesolithic site in Europe but the lack of fish remains has continued to vex scholars. Judging from other materials, the preservation conditions at the site in the late 1940s/early 1950s should have been good enough to permit the survival of fish remains, and particularly dentaries of the northern pike (Esox lucius L., 1758) as found on other European sites of this age. The lack of evidence has therefore been attributed to a paucity of fish in the lake. However, new research has provided multiple lines of evidence, which not only demonstrate the presence of fish, but also provide evidence for the species present, data on how and where fish were being processed on site, and interpretations for the fishing methods that might have been used. This study demonstrates that an integrated approach using a range of methods at landscape, site and microscopic scales of analysis can elucidate such questions. In addition, it demonstrates that in future studies, even in cases where physical remains are lacking, forensic techniques hold significant potential.