Late Stone Age Hunters of the British Isles

Late Stone Age Hunters of the British Isles

Late Stone Age Hunters of the British Isles

Late Stone Age Hunters of the British Isles

Synopsis

For 7,000 years after the last ice age, the people of the British Isles subsisted by hunting wild game and gathering fruits of the forest and foreshore. Belonging to the late Upper Palaelithic and Mesolithic periods, these hunter-gatherers have hitherto been viewed mainly in terms of stone tool typologies. late Stone Age Hunters of the British Isles departs from this conventional approach, reassessing the archaeological evidence and placing it within a wider ecological and geographical context.This well illustrated study, which includes case studies, maps and photographs, provides a balanced approach to the study of a period that demands multi-disciplinary treatment. It outlines a range of considerations that have a bearing on the study of early societies in the British Isles, and also forms a useful guide to communiites themselves as represented by known archaeological sites.

Excerpt

A book about the Stone Age which has comparatively little to say about stone tools calls for some explanation. the origins of this work lie in a public lecture entitled ‘The Red Deer, the Seal and the Limpet’ given at the University of Newcastle on 5 October 1987, and an undergraduate course taught since 1983 in the Archaeology Department of the same institution. in both the lecture and the course I sought to shift the emphasis away from the study of stone tools, which has been the traditional approach to the archaeology of the Stone Age, and towards the environmental context within which Stone Age people lived their lives. My reasons for adopting this approach are twofold.

Having been trained in both archaeology and geography, my interests have always lain within the area in which these two subjects overlap. the issue which has interested me most is that of the relationships which exist between people and their environment, on both the small scale of the individual site and on the larger scale of the settlement pattern as a whole. Only very rarely have I become involved in the study of stone tools and claim no expertise in this field. There are numerous works dealing with this topic, and if they are out of date there are others far more competent than me to undertake their revision.

The study of stone tools has made important contributions to our knowledge of the past in two respects, however. First, insofar as we can learn how these tools were made and used, they have much to tell us about human behaviour. This aspect of stone tool studies makes an important contribution to the approach I have followed. Second, the way stone tools changed over time has been used to provide a chronological framework and, indeed, this lies behind the concept of a ‘Stone Age’ which antedated ages of bronze and iron. This method of establishing a chronological framework for the past always had its difficulties. Stone-tool types did not obligingly change at regular intervals and new discoveries, by showing that a particular type was in use earlier, later or for longer than had hitherto been supposed, led to a need for constant revision. the development and widespread application of the technique of radiocarbon dating is rendering chronologies based on stone tool typologies obsolete. Over 300 dates are

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