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An Early Mesolithic Seasonal Hunting Site in the Kennet Valley, Southern England

  • C. J. Ellis (a1), Michael J. Allen (a1), Julie Gardiner (a1), Phil Harding (a1), Claire Ingrem (a2), Adrienne Powell (a3), Robert G. Scaife (a4), Rowena Gale and Jennie Heathcote...

Abstract

A small-scale excavation, undertaken in advance of building works at Faraday Road, Newbury, Berkshire, encountered an apparently intact Early Mesolithic layer containing abundant worked flint directly associated with animal bones. The site lay on the floodplain of the River Kennet in an area already well-known for Mesolithic remains and certainly represents an extension of the site found at nearby Greenham Dairy Farm in 1963. The flint assemblage was dominated by obliquely-blunted microlithic forms accompanied by a restricted range of other items. The animal bones were, unusually, dominated by wild pig with clear evidence of both primary butchery and food waste. Spatial analysis of the bone and flint assemblages indicated discrete activity areas, possibly associated with hearths. Both pollen and molluscan data were recovered which, together with the results of soil micromorphological examination, confirmed an Early Holocene date for the formation of the Mesolithic layer. Radiocarbon dates place the site in the late 10th–early 9th millennium BP. The paper re-examines the nature of known Early Mesolithic activity in this part of the Kennet valley, with particular reference to the specific environmental conditions that seem to have prevailed. It is concluded that the Faraday Road site represents one part of a continuum of Early Mesolithic occupation that stretches along a considerable length of the floodplain, with each focus of activity witnessing repeated, but intermittent, occupation spanning a period of more than a millennium.

Des fouilles sur une petite échelle, entreprises avant des travaux de construction à Faraday Road, Newbury, comté de Berkshire, rencontrèrent une couche du mésolithique inférieur, apparemment intacte, contenant une abondance de silex taillés en association directe avec des ossements animaux. Le site se trouve dans la plaine inondable de la rivière Kennet, dans une zone déjà bien connue pour ses vestiges mésolithiques, et constitue certainement une extension du site trouvé à proximité, à Greenham Dairy Farm, en 1963. Des formes microlithiques à troncature oblique dominaient l'assemblage de silex, qu'accompagnait une gamme restreinte d'autres objets. Chose inhabituelle, parmi les ossements animaux, c'étaient les ossements de porcs sauvages qui dominaient, avec des témoignages évidents à la fois de boucherie et de rejets alimentaires primaires. L'analyse spatiale des asssemblages d'ossements et de silex mit en évidence des aires d'activité discontinues, peut-être associées à des foyers. On retrouva à la fois des données polliniques et de mollusques qui, en association avec les résultats de l'examen micromorphologique des sols, confirmèrent que la formation de la couche mésolithique daterait de l'holocène inférieur. Des datations au radiocarbone placent le site à la fin du Xème ou au début du IXème millénaire avant le présent. Cette étude réexamine la nature des activités du début du mésolithique connues dans cette partie de la vallée de la Kennet, faisant référence en particulier aux conditions environnementales spécifiques qui semblent y avoir prévalu. On en tire la conclusion que le site de Faraday Road constitue une étape dans un continu d'ocupations du mésolithique inférieur qui se serait étendu sur une longueur considérable de la plaine inondable, chaque centre d'activités étant le témoin d'occupations répétées, mais intermittentes, couvrant une période de plus d'un millénaire.

Im Vorfeld von Bauarbeiten in der Faraday Road, Newbury in Berkshire stieß man in einer klein angelegten Ausgrabung auf eine scheinbar intakte frühmesolithische Schicht, die reichlich bearbeiteten Feuerstein in unmittelbarem Kontext mit Tierknochen enthielt. Die Fundstelle von der Kennet Flussaue liegt in einem Gebiet, in dem es bereits mehrere mesolithische Fundstellen gibt, und steht sicherlich auch mit der 1963 in der in der Nähe liegenden Meierei entdeckten Fundstelle in Verbindung. Schräg abgestumpfte mikrolithische Formen dominieren in der Feuersteinkollektion, die zusätzlich nur eine begrenzte Auswahl anderer Objekten enthielt. Bei den Tierknochen herrschte Wildschwein vor, was ungewöhnlich ist und einen klaren Nachweis einer erstklassigen Schlachttechnik und auch von Essensabfall liefert. Die Analyse der räumlichen Verteilung von Knochen und Feuerstein deuten auf getrennte Aktivitätszonen hin, die wahrscheinlich mit Feuerstellen assoziiert sind. Es konnten Pollen und Mollusken gesammelt werden, die zusammen mit der mikromorphologischen Bodenanalyse die mesolithische Schichtenbildung in das frühe Holozän datieren. Radiokarbondaten datieren die Fundstelle in das späte 10. / frühes 9. Jahrtausend BP. Im Artikel werden die frühmesolithischen Aktivitäten in diesem Teil des Kennet Tals unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der vorherrschenden spezifischen Umweltbedingungen erneut untersucht. Zusammenfassend stellt die Fundstelle an der Faraday Road einen Teil der kontinuierlichen frühmesolithischen Besiedlung entlang der Flussaue dar, die sich auf einer beachtlichen Länge und über mehr als ein Jahrtausend erstreckt, wobei jede Aktivitätszone periodische Wiederbesiedlungen aufweist.

Una pequeña excavación, Ilevada a cabo antes de que se efectuasen trabajos de construcción en Faraday Road, Newbury, Berkshire, encontró una capa del Primer Mesolítico aparentemente intacta que contenía abundante sílex trabajado, en asociación directa con huesos animales. El yacimiento se encuentra en las terrazas aluviales del Rio Kennet, en una zona ya bien conocida por sus restos mesolíticos, y ciertamente representa una extensión del yacimiento encontrado en la cercana Greenham Dairy Farm en 1963. El grupo de objetos de sílex estaba dominado por formas microlíticas de perfil romo acompañadas de un limitado número de otros objetos. En el conjunto de huesos animales predominaban, de modo inusual, los huesos de cerdo salvaje, con evidencia clara tanto de actividades de carnicería primaria como de restos de comida. El análisis espacial de los grupos de hueso y sílex indica la existencia de áreas de actividad localizadas, posiblemente asociadas con hogares. Se recuperó también información palinológica y sobre moluscos, que junto con los resultados del examen micromorfológico de los suelos, confirman como fecha para la formación del estrato mesolítico el Primer Holoceno. La datación al Carbono-14 situa el yacimiento a finales del décimo milenio o principios del noveno milenio BP. Este trabajo reexamina nuestros conocimientos acerca del tipo de actividades desarrolladas en esta parte del Valle del Kennet durante el Primer Mesolítico, con particular referencia a las condiciones medioambientales específicas que parecen haber predominado. Se concluye que el yacimiento en Faraday Road representa parte de una continuidad en la ocupación durante el Primer Mesolítico que se extiende durante un considerable periodo en las terrazas aluviales, y en el que cada centro de actividad evidencia ocupaciones repetidas pero intermitentes durante más de un milenio.

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