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Being Mesolithic in life and deathFifty 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.
Humans in the Environment: Plants, Animals and Landscapes in Mesolithic Britain and IrelandEnvironmental archaeology has historically been central to Mesolithic studies in Britain and Ireland. Whilst processual archaeology was concerned with the economic significance of the environment, post-processual archaeology later rejected economically driven narratives, resulting in a turn away from plant and animal remains. Post-processual narratives focused instead on enigmatic ‘ritual’ items that economic accounts struggled to suitably explain. Processual accounts of landscapes, grounded in economic determinism, were also rejected in favour of explorations of their sociocultural aspects. However, in moving away from plant and animal remains, such accounts lacked the ability to rigorously explore the specificities of particular landscapes and humans actions within them. This paper will bridge this gap by considering how palaeoecological and zooarchaeological analyses can be used to explore human interactions with plants and animals, which were key in developing understandings and relationships that ultimately structured landscapes, influenced past human actions and shaped archaeological assemblages.