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A Levallois Knapping Site at West Thurrock, Lower Thames, UK: its Quaternary Context, Environment and Age

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2014

D.C. Schreve
Affiliation:
Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, UK.
P. Harding
Affiliation:
Wessex Archaeology, Portway House, Old Sarum Park, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 6EB, UK.
M.J. White
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, Science Laboratories, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK.
D.R. Bridgland
Affiliation:
Department of Geography, University of Durham, Science Laboratories, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK.
P. Allen
Affiliation:
Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, UK.
F. Clayton
Affiliation:
18 Scrivens Mead, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 4FQ, UK
D.H. Keen
Affiliation:
BioArch, Biology S Block, University of York, PO Box 373, York, YO10 5YW, UK.
K.E.H. Penkman
Affiliation:
BioArch, Biology S Block, University of York, PO Box 373, York, YO10 5YW, UK.

Abstract

Levallois knapping debris is present beneath the sides of a disused tramway cutting connected to Lion Pit, West Thurrock, Essex. This occurrence, first recorded during the early 20th century, is in the basal gravel of the Taplow/Mucking Formation, which dates from the end of Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 8. The relatively undisturbed nature of this knapping debris is confirmed by the incidence of refitting material, although finer debitage is absent, presumably winnowed out. The Levallois character of the assemblage is demonstrated by the occurrence of characteristic ‘tortoise’ cores and flakes with faceted striking platforms. The artefact-bearing gravel is overlain by >10 m of predominantly fine-grained sediments, including fossiliferous sands and massive clayey silt, as well as laminated silts, clays, and sands of possible estuarine origin. These are attributed to deposition under temperate conditions during MIS 7. To the south, a younger fluvial gravel, attributed to MIS 6, has been incised into the interglacial sequence. The top of the estuarine sequence has been affected by pedogenesis, both before and after its burial by an unbedded solifluction gravel.

Résumé

Des débris de frappe Levallois sont présents sous les remblais de la tranchée d'une ligne de tramway désaffectée reliée au Lion Pit, West Thurrock, Essex. Cette présence observée pour la première fois au début du vingtième siècle, se situe dans le gravier à la base de la formation Taplow/Mucking, qui date de la fin du stade d'isotope d'oxygène marin (OIS) 8. L'aspect relativement peu perturbé de ces débris de frappe se confirme par la présence de matériaux de retouche, bien que le débitage plus fin soit absent, probablement passé à travers le tamis. Nous démontrons la tradition Levallois de l'assemblage par la présence de nucléus en‘tortues’ caractéristiques et d'éclats avec des plans de frappe à facettes. Le gravier porteur d'objets manufacturés était recouvert de >10 m de sédiments de prédominance à grains fins, comprenant des sables fossilifères et une énorme vase argileuse, ainsi que des limons/vases, des argiles et des sables peut-être originaires d'un estuaire. Nous attribuons ceux-ci à des dépôts dans des conditions tempérées au cours de OIS 7. Au sud, un gravier fluvial plus jeune, attribué à OIS 6, a été incisé dans la séquence interglaciaire. Le haut de la séquence de l'estuaire a été affecté par la pédogénèse, aussi bien avant qu'après son enfouissement sous du gravier érodé non fixé.

Zusammenfassung

Der Abfall von Levallois Steinbearbeitung unter den Seiten eines stillgelegten Straßenbahneinschnitts nach Lion Pit, West Thurrock, ·Essex ist seit dem frühen 20. Jahrhundert bekannt und registriert. Er befindet sich in der untersten Kiesschicht der Taplow/Mucking Formation, die ans Ende der Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 8 datiert. Die relativ ungestörte Beschaffenheit dieser Steinbear beitungsabfälle wird, obwohl feinere Abschläge, die wahrscheinlich ausgewaschen wurden, fehlen, durch das Auftreten von zusammensetzbarem Material bestätigt. Der Levallois Character des Inventars zeigt sich durch das Vorkommen von charakteristischen ,Schildkröten Kernen‘ und Abschlägen mit facettierten Schlagflächen. Der Kies, in dem die Artefakte lagen, wird von einer mehr als 10 m mächtigen, vorwiegend feinkörnigen Sedimentsschicht überlagert. Diese umfasst sowohl fossilienhaltigen Sand und massiven tonigen Schluff, als auch mehrschichtigen Schluff und Sand, der wahrscheinlich aus der Flussmündung stammt. Sie können einer Ablagerung unter gemäßigten Bedingungen während des MIS 7 zugewiesen werden. Südlich davon schneidet ein jüngerer Flusskies, der dem MIS 6 zugeordnet werden kann, in die interglaziale Sequenz. Das obere Ende des Flussmündungssequenz wurde durch die Bodenbildung vor und nach der Überdeckung durch einen ungelagerten Kies eines Schmutzflusses beeinträchtigt.

Résumen

Desechos de tallado pertenecientes a la técnica Levallois han aparecido bajo los lados de una sección ferroviaria en desuso conectada a Lion Pit, West Thurrock, en Essex. Este hallazgo, documentado por vez primera a principios del s. XX, aparece en la gravilla basal de la Formación Taplow/Mucking, datada al final de la Etapa de Isótopos de Oxígeno Marinos (MIS) 8. La naturaleza relativamente in situ de estos desechos de tallado queda confirmada por la presencia de material que puede ser recompuesto, aunque no hay restos del debitage más fino, posiblemente por haber sido eliminado. La pertenencia del alijo al Levallois queda demostrada por la frecuente aparición de los típicos núcleos de ‘caparazón de tortuga‘ y lascas con puntos de percusión facetados. La grava que contiene los artefactos yace bajo >10 m de sedimentos predominantemente finos, que incluyen arenas ricas en fósiles y un masivo depósito arcilloso, así como légamos laminados, arcillas, y arenas de origen posiblemente estuario. Estos se atribuyen a una deposición en condiciones templadas durante MIS 7. Hacia el sur de este depósito queda una grava fluvial más reciente, atribuida al MIS 6, que ha sido cortada dentro de la secuencia interglacial. La parte superior de la secuencia estuaria ha sido afectada por procesos de pedogénesis, tanto antes como después de su enterramiento por una grava de soliflucción no estratificada.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Prehistoric Society 2006

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A Levallois Knapping Site at West Thurrock, Lower Thames, UK: its Quaternary Context, Environment and Age
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