Island Britain - Peninsular Britain: Palaeogeography, colonisation and the Earlier Palaeolithic settlement of the British Isles

Danielle Schreve, Mark J. White

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Lithological and biological evidence for Britain’s fluctuating palaeogeography during the Middle Pleistocene have been used to construct an heuristic biogeographical model of human colonisation, settlement and abandonment, proposing mechanisms that are coupled with both regional palaeo-geographical evolution and global climatic change. When applied to the archaeological record, the model suggests not only that large-scale socio-culturally relevant patterns may indeed exist, but that in Britain at least, we may be in the unique position of being able to access and understand them as part of the ebb and flow of different populations, measured against the backdrop of changing climates and landscapes. It is suggested that the Clactonian and Acheulean may represent separate pulses of colonisation, possibly by different European populations: the Clactonian reflecting an early re-colonisation event during climatic amelioration, the Acheulean representing a second wave during the main interglacial. This phenomenon is observable during repeated interglacials. Moreover, other patterns in the lithic record are argued to reflect specific endemic technological developments (for example the appearance of twisted ovate handaxes) during periods of isolation from mainland Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalProceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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