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Making and Breaking Microliths: A Middle Mesolithic Site at Asfordby, Leicestershire

  • Lynden P. Cooper (a1), Wayne Jarvis (a1), Alex Bayliss (a2), Matthew G. Beamish (a1), Christopher Bronk Ramsey (a3), Jennifer Browning (a1), Rhea Brettell (a4), Gordon Cook (a5), Adrian Evans (a4), Carl Heron (a4) and Richard Macphail (a6)...

Abstract

Archaeological fieldwork preceding housing development revealed a Mesolithic site in a primary context. A central hearth was evident from a cluster of calcined flint and bone, the latter producing a modelled date for the start of occupation at 8220–7840 cal bc and ending at 7960–7530 cal bc (95% probability). The principal activity was the knapping of bladelets, the blanks for microlith production. Impact-damaged microliths indicated the re-tooling of hunting weaponry, while microwear analysis of other tools demonstrated hide working and butchery activity at the site. The lithics can be classified as a Honey Hill assemblage type on the basis of distinctive leaf-shaped microlithic points with inverse basal retouch.

Such assemblages have a known concentration in central England and are thought to be temporally intermediate between the conventional British Early and Late Mesolithic periods. The lithic assemblage is compared to other Honey Hill type and related Horsham type assemblages from south-eastern England. Both assemblage types are termed Middle Mesolithic and may be seen as part of wider developments in the late Preboreal and Boreal periods of north-west Europe. Rapid climatic warming at this time saw the northward expansion of deciduous woodland into north-west Europe. Emerging new ecosystems presented changes in resource patterns and the Middle Mesolithic lithic typo-technological developments reflect novel foraging strategies as adaptations to the new opportunities of Boreal forest conditions. While Honey Hill-type assemblages are seen as part of such wider processes their distinctive typological signature attests to autochthonous, regional developments of human groups infilling the landscape. Such cultural insularity may reflect changing social boundaries with reduction in mobility range and physical isolation caused by rising sea level and the creation of the British archipelago.

Fabriquer et casser des microlithes: Un site du mésolithique moyen à Asfordby, Leicestershire, de Lynden P. Cooper et Wayne Jarvis

Une prospection archéologique en amont de la construction d’un lotissement a révélé un site mésolothique dans un contexte primaire. Un foyer central était attesté par un groupe de silex et d’os calcinés, ces derniers produisant une date modélisée pour le début de l’occupation de 8220–7840 av.J.-C. cal et pour la fin de 7960–7530 av.J.-C. cal (probabilité de 95%). L’industrie principale était le débitage de lamelles, les supports pour la production de microlithes. Des microlithes endommagés par impact indiquaient le re-travail des armatures de chasse tandis que l’analyse de la micro-usure d’autres outils attestait d’activités de travail des peaux et de boucherie sur le site. Ces lithes peuvent être classés dans le type d’assemblage HoneyHill sur la base de pointes de microlithes foliacées distinctives avec retouche basale inversée.

Il est bien connu qu’il s’en trouve une concentration dans le centre de l’Angleterre et on pense qu’ils sont temporellement intermédiaires entre les périodes conventionnelles du mésolithique britannique ancien et récent. On compare l’assemblage lithique à d’autres assemblages de type Honey Hill et aux assemblages lithiques de type Horsham du sud-est de l’Angleterre avec lesquels ils ont des liens. Les deux types d’assemblage sont appelés mésolithique moyen et peuvent être considérés comme faisant partie de développements plus larges au cours des périodes préboréale tardive et boréale de l’Europe du nord-ouest. Le rapide réchauffement climatique à cette période a vu les forêts d’arbres à feuilles caduques s’étendre vers le nord dans l’Europe du nord-ouest. De nouveaux écosystèmes émergeants présentaient des changements dans la configuration des ressources et les développements typo-technologiques du lithique du mésolithique moyen reflètent de nouvelles stratégies de recherche de nourriture comme des adaptations aux nouvelles opportunités offertes par les conditions de la forêt boréale. Tandis que les assemblages de type Honey Hill sont considérés comme faisant partie de ces procédés plus étendus leur signature typologique distinctive atteste de développements autochtones, régionaux de groupes humains venant occuper ce paysage. Une telle insularité culturelle peut refléter des changements dans les frontières sociales avec la réduction du champ de mobilité et l’isolation physique causée par l’élévation du niveau de la mer et la création de l’archipel britannique.

Vom Machen und Zerbrechen von Mikrolithen: Eine mittelmesolithische Fundstelle in Asfordby, Leicestershire, von Lynden P. Cooper und Wayne Jarvis

Archäologische Feldarbeiten im Vorfeld von Baumaßnahmen führten zur Entdeckung eines mesolithischen Fundplatzes in ungestörter Fundlage. Eine zentrale Brandstelle wurde durch ein Cluster kalzinierter Silices und Knochen angezeigt; anhand letzterer konnte ein modelliertes Datum für den Beginn der Belegung des Platzes von 8220–7840 cal bc und für das Ende von 7960–7530 cal bc (95% Wahrscheinlichkeit) gewonnen werden. Die Haupttätigkeit war die Herstellung von kleinen Klingen, den Rohlingen für die Produktion von Mikrolithen. Beschädigte Mikrolithe zeigten die Überarbeitung von Jagdwaffen an, und die Mikro-Gebrauchsspurenanalyse weiterer Werkzeuge lässt Aktivitäten auf dem Fundplatz erkennen wie das Bearbeiten von Fellen und das Schlachten von Tieren. Die Lithik kann als ein Ensemble des Typs Honey Hill klassifiziert werden auf der Basis eindeutiger blattförmiger mikrolithischer Spitzen mit inversen basalen Retuschen.

Die Konzentration solcher Ensembles liegt in Mittelengland und sie gelten zeitlich als Zwischenstufe zwischen den konventionellen Perioden des britischen Frühmesolithikums und des Spätmesolithikums. Das lithische Spektrum wird sowohl mit anderen Fundensembles des Honey Hill Typs verglichen als auch mit verwandten Ensembles vom Horsham Typ aus Südostengland. Beide Typensembles werden als mittelmesolithisch bezeichnet und können als Teil generellerer Entwicklungen des Präboreals und Boreals Nordwesteuropas verstanden werden. Schnelle Klimaerwärmung in dieser Zeit führte zur nordwärts gerichteten Ausbreitung von Laubwald nach Nordwesteuropa. Es entstanden neue Ökosysteme, die Änderungen in der Zusammensetzung der Ressourcen bewirkten, und die typo-technologischen Entwicklungen der Lithik des Mittelmesolithikums reflektiert neue Strategien der Nahrungsaneignung als Anpassungen an die neuen Möglichkeiten der borealen Wälder. Während Fundensembles vom Typ Honey Hill als Teil viel generellerer Prozesse gesehen werden, spricht ihre distinktive typologische Signatur für autochthone regionale Entwicklungen mit dem Eindringen von Gruppen in diese Landschaft. Eine solche kulturelle Insularität reflektiert möglicherweise sich wandelnde soziale Grenzen mit der Reduktion des Umfangs der Mobilität und mit physischer Isolation, hervorgerufen durch den Anstieg des Meeresspiegels und die Entstehung des britischen Archipels.

Haciendo y rompiendo microlitos: un yacimiento del Mesolítico medio en Asfordby, Leicestershire, por Lynden P. Cooper and Wayne Jarvis

Los trabajos arqueológicos previos al desarrollo urbanístico revelaron un yacimiento arqueológico Mesolítico en contexto primario. Se documentó un hogar central compuesto por un conjunto de sílex y huesos calcinados, cuya datación sitúa el inicio de la ocupación entre el 8220–7840 cal bc, y el final de la misma en el intervalo 7960–7530 cal bc (95% de probabilidad). La principal actividad fue la talla de laminillas como soportes para la producción de microlitos. Los microlitos con fracturas por impacto indican una reparación de las armas de caza, mientras que el análisis de huellas de uso del resto del utillaje refleja el trabajo de la piel y la realización de actividades de carnicería en el sitio. El conjunto lítico puede ser clasificado como tipo Honey Hill en base a las distintivas puntas microlíticas foliáceas con retoque basal inverso.

Estos conjuntos presentan una clara concentración en el centro de Inglaterra y se consideran cronológicamente intermedios entre el Mesolítico inicial y final británico. Este conjunto lítico se ha comparado con otros del tipo Honey Hill y con los de tipo Horsham del sureste de Inglaterra. Ambos tipos de conjuntos se atribuyen al Mesolítico medio y pueden considerarse como parte de un desarrollo más amplio durante el final del Preboreal y el Boreal en el noroeste de Europa. La rápida mejora climática en este momento propició la expansión del bosque caducifolio hacia el noroeste de Europa. Los ecosistemas emergentes supusieron cambios en los patrones de recursos y los desarrollos tecno-tipológicos líticos del Mesolítico Medio reflejan nuevas estrategias de forrajeo como adaptación a las oportunidades que ofrece el bosque boreal. Mientras que los conjuntos del tipo Honey Hill pueden ser vistos como una parte de estos amplios procesos, su distintivo aspecto tipológico atestigua el desarrollo autóctono y regional de los grupos humanos que ocupan el paisaje. Esta particularización cultural podría reflejar límites sociales cambiantes, con una reducción de la movilidad y un aislamiento físico causado por la subida del nivel del mar y por la creación del archipiélago británico.

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