A Middle Palaeolithic site in the southern North Sea: investigating the archaeology and palaeogeography of Area 240

Louise Tizzard, Andrew Bicket, Jonathan Benjamin, Dimitri De Loecker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    28 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The potential for Middle Palaeolithic sites to survive beneath the sea in northern latitudes has been established by intensive investigation within Area 240, a marine aggregate licence area situated in the North Sea, 11km off the coast of Norfolk, England. The fortuitous discovery of bifacial handaxes, and Levallois flakes and cores, led to a major programme of fieldwork and analysis between 2008 and 2013. The artefacts were primarily recovered from Marine Isotope Stage 8/7 floodplain sediments deposited between 250 and 200 ka. It is considered that the hand axes and Levallois products are contemporaneous in geological terms with taphonomically complex sedimentary contexts, as observed in several north-west European sites. The Early Middle Palaeolithic (EMP) lithics have survived multiple phases of glaciation and marine transgression. The investigations confirm that the artefacts are not a 'chance' find, but indicate clear relationships to submerged and buried landscapes that, although complex, can be examined in detail using a variety of existing fieldwork and analytical methods. The palaeogeographical context of the finds also offers expanded interpretations of the distribution of EMP hominins in the southern North Sea, not predictable from onshore archaeological records.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)698-710
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
    Volume29
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

    Keywords

    • Archaeology
    • Early Middle Palaeolithic
    • Palaeogeography
    • Southern North Sea
    • Submerged prehistory

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