OUP Meso Europe Taylor Overton ...
AffiliationUniversity of Chester; University of Manchester
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AbstractIt has been over a century since the first palaeoenvironmental records and animal bone assemblages were recorded from deposits recognised as belonging to the Mesolithic. In the intervening years hundreds of pollen and plant macrofossils profiles have been recorded from lake sediments and peat bogs, while faunal assemblages representing the remains of terrestrial and marine mammals, fish, and birds have been documented from secure Mesolithic contexts across much of the continent. With developments in absolute dating, these records have come to provide a rich account of the changing character of the environment of Mesolithic Europe. The ways in which human communities engaged with this environment has been a key theme in Mesolithic archaeology throughout much of its history, and it is a great strength of our discipline that research has often been grounded in detailed studies of faunal and palaeoecological data, as well as material culture (see also Mithen 1999). Indeed, the development of Mesolithic archaeology has been closely aligned to developments in environmental archaeology, often through collaboration by researchers in both fields. Pollen analysis and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction played a central role in many early studies, both as a means of establishing a relative chronology for the archaeology, and for describing the ecological conditions in which humans lived. Similarly, the analysis of animal remains played a key role in the interpretation of some of the first Mesolithic sites, providing information on hunting economies and the season of occupancy. This tradition of collaboration continued into the second half of the twentieth century as developments in palaeoecology and zooarchaeology, particularly those arising from the economic archaeology of the 1960s and 1970s, drove a new wave of research that continues to this day. As a result, we have a rich body of evidence both for the character of the environment, and the ways in which people engaged with it. However, the way we interpret these records has also been influenced by theoretical models of human-environment relationships developed within archaeology and anthropology. As both disciplines have developed throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, it has led to new ways of conceptualising the relationship between humans, plants, and animals during the Mesolithic.
CitationTaylor, B., & Overton, N. (2023 - in press). Relationships with the environments: Plants and animals. In Nilsson Stutz, Stejerna and Torv (Eds.) The Oxford handbook of Mesolithic Europe. Oxford University Press.
PublisherOxford University Press
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