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A critical evaluation of the Lower-Middle Palaeolithic archaeological record of the Chalk uplands of northwest Europe

Blundell, Lesley; (2020) A critical evaluation of the Lower-Middle Palaeolithic archaeological record of the Chalk uplands of northwest Europe. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Our understanding of early human behaviour has always been and continues to be predicated on an archaeological record unevenly distributed in space and time. More than 80% of British Lower-Middle Palaeolithic findspots were discovered during the late 19th/early 20th centuries, the majority from lowland fluvial contexts. Within the British planning process and some academic research, the resultant findspot distributions are taken at face value, with insufficient consideration of possible bias resulting from variables operating on their creation. This leads to areas of landscape outside the river valleys being considered to have only limited archaeological potential. This thesis was conceived as an attempt to analyse the findspot data of the Lower-Middle Palaeolithic record of the Chalk uplands of southeast Britain and northern France within a framework complex enough to allow bias in the formation of findspot distribution patterns and artefact preservation/discovery opportunities to be identified and scrutinised more closely. Taking a dynamic, landscape = record approach, this research explores the potential influence of geomorphology, 19th/early 20th century industrialisation and antiquarian collecting on the creation of the LowerMiddle Palaeolithic record through the opportunities created for artefact preservation and release. It also explores the influence of differences between British and French Government archaeological policies and strategies, visualising the impact of each variable in turn on the creation of the findspot distribution patterns visible in that record. Based on the results of these visualisations, the thesis concludes that geomorphology has been the first and most influential variable, providing a more robust first-order explanation for distribution patterns than early human habitat preference alone. Late 19th/early 20th century industrialisation played the next most substantial role, its exposure of Pleistocene deposits creating opportunities for the antiquarian collectors whose activities ultimately created the findspot distribution patterns on which interpretations of early human behaviour have traditionally been based.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: A critical evaluation of the Lower-Middle Palaeolithic archaeological record of the Chalk uplands of northwest Europe
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10095025
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