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ENGLAND - Prehistory

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Bianca
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« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2009, 08:57:56 pm »









You Are What You Eat



As the maxim "you are what you eat" goes, our bones and bodily tissues are made up of elements taken from the food we consume. As a result, our bones and bodily tissues contain a record of the food we have eaten over the course of our lives.

When we die, our skin usually decomposes, leaving behind bones. By examining the elements in the bones of a person long dead, researchers can determine the main constituents of that individual's diet.

Richards and colleagues looked at the dietary signatures left behind in bones of inland and coastal-dwelling inhabitants of Britain during the Neolithic and the preceding 3,800 years (Mesolithic) to determine what they ate.

Specifically, the team looked at the ratios of stable carbon isotopes. Marine foods and land-based foods have distinct stable carbon isotope signatures, said Richards.

"We determined that after the introduction of domesticates, as well as the other artifacts associated with the Neolithic, the isotope values showed that marine foods were not used anymore," he said. "We then infer that this is a switch from wild foods such as fish and shellfish to the new domesticates that arrive at this time."

While the bone analysis alone does not directly say the shift was from seafood to domesticates, it coincides with their arrival. Richards and colleagues say this suggests that the arrival of the new farming lifestyle must have been very attractive, even to coastal dwellers who had a well-established marine economy in the Mesolithic. 
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« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2009, 09:04:30 pm »










Changing Diet



Richards said there are three plausible reasons why the British abandoned seafood from the beginning of the Neolithic: the domesticated plants and animals presented a steady source of food; the shift was forced by a climate change; or cultural pressure.

Of those, Richards said a climate change is the least likely since there were several climate changes during the Mesolithic yet marine foods continued to be used.

"The previous hunting-fishing-gathering way of life was extremely successful for humans—it is the main way we have obtained food for most of our existence—so it seems strange that we would give this up so readily to start farming and stock-keeping within a generation or two," said Richards.

According to Copley, this research highlights how advantageous the Neolithic diet of farm animals, dairy products, and cereals must have been. For example, he said, it allowed populations to boom and larger, more complex societies to emerge.

"Of course, it poses more questions," he said. "For example, are marine foods still consumed during the Neolithic but in much lower abundances? And why is there this very quick shift in diets?"

The carbon isotope signatures are not sensitive enough to rule out the possibility that the British had an occasional fish fillet at dinner, but it clearly shows a shift from a high-level of marine food consumption in the Mesolithic, said Richards.

Fish once again became an important force in the British diet when the Romans invaded Great Britain during the first century A.D., but even then it was likely seldom eaten and only then by the upper classes.

"In the medieval and later periods we see much more use of fish, but in Britain we never see the levels of fish consumption seen in the Mesolithic period," said Richards.

Fish and chips, the world-famous British dish, became popular in the 19th century. The battering and deep frying of the fish killed off bacteria and kept it warm for long periods of time to feed mill workers, said Richards. 
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« Reply #32 on: February 07, 2009, 08:31:21 am »











                                             Lost world warning from North Sea 






By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education 
Apr. 23, 2007



 
How a homestead might have
looked in the flooded area


Archaeologists are uncovering a huge prehistoric "lost country" hidden below the North Sea.

This lost landscape, where hunter-gatherer communities once lived, was swallowed by rising water levels at the end of the last ice age.

University of Birmingham researchers are heralding "stunning" findings as they map the "best-preserved prehistoric landscape in Europe".

This large plain disappeared below the water more than 8,000 years ago.

The Birmingham researchers have been using oil exploration technology to build a map of the once-inhabited area that now lies below the North Sea - stretching from the east coast of Britain up to the Shetland Islands and across to Scandinavia.
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« Reply #33 on: February 07, 2009, 08:35:07 am »











'Terrifying'



"It's like finding another country," says Professor Vince Gaffney, chair in Landscape Archaeology and Geomatics.

 


Prehistoric rivers, hills and valleys
are mapped off the east coast


It also serves as a warning for the scale of impact that climate change can cause, he says.

Human communities would have lost their homelands as the rising water began to encroach upon the wide, low-lying plains.

"At times this change would have been insidious and slow - but at times, it could have been terrifyingly fast. It would have been very traumatic for these people," he says.

"It would be a mistake to think that these people were unsophisticated or without culture... they would have had names for the rivers and hills and spiritual associations - it would have been a catastrophic loss," says Professor Gaffney.

As the temperature rose and glaciers retreated and water levels rose, the inhabitants would have been pushed off their hunting grounds and forced towards higher land - including to what is now modern-day Britain.
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« Reply #34 on: February 07, 2009, 08:38:32 am »




             

               The rising water levels began
               to remake the coastline







"In 10,000 BC, hunter-gatherers were living on the land in the middle of the North Sea. By 6,000 BC, Britain was an island. The area we have mapped was wiped out in the space of 4,000 years," explains Professor Gaffney.

So far, the team has examined a 23,000-sq-km area of the sea bed - mapping out coastlines, rivers, hills, sandbanks and salt marshes as they would have appeared about 12,000 years ago.

And once the physical features have been established, Professor Gaffney says it will be possible to narrow the search for sites that could yield more evidence of how these prehistoric people lived.

These inhabitants would have lived in family groups in huts and hunted animals such as deer.

The mapping of this landscape could also raise questions about its preservation, says Professor Gaffney - and how it can be protected from activities such as pipe-laying and the building of wind farms.
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« Reply #35 on: February 07, 2009, 08:45:42 am »










                           North Sea yields secrets of early man's happy hunting ground






Ian Sample,
Science Correspondent
The Guardian,
Tuesday 24 April 2007

A lost landscape where early humans roamed more than 12,000 years ago has been uncovered beneath the North Sea. A map of the underwater world reveals criss-crossing rivers, giant lakes and gentle hills around which hunter-gatherers made their homes and found their meals toward the end of the last ice age.

The region was inundated between 18000 and 6000BC, when the warming climate melted the thick glaciers that pressed down from the north.

As the waters rose the great plain vanished, and slowly the contours of the British Isles and the north-west European coastline were established. Now the primitive landscape is submerged and preserved, tens of metres beneath one of the busiest seas in the world.

Scientists compiled 3D seismic records from oil-prospecting vessels working in the North Sea over 18 months to piece together a landscape covering 23,000 sq km, stretching from the coast of East Anglia to the edge of northern Europe. They identified the scars left by ancient river beds and lakes, some 25km (15mls) across, and salt marshes and valleys.

"Some of this land would have made the perfect environment for hunter gatherers. There is higher land where they could have built their homes and hills they could see their prey from," said Vince Gaffney, director of Birmingham University's Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, who lead the project with Ken Thomson, a geologist.

The recreation of the ancient landscape shows that the land beneath the North Sea was probably more than merely a land bridge. People moving north into Europe as the worst extremes of the ice age receded could have lived comfortably on the land, with what is now Britain marginalised and distant.

"People think this was a land bridge across which people roamed to get to Britain, but the truth is very different. The places you wanted to live were the big plains next to the water and the coastline was way beyond where it is now. This was probably a heartland of population at the time," Prof Gaffney said. "This completely transforms how we understand the early history of north-western Europe."

The northernmost point of the map falls just short of the south coast of Norway, where rising water levels swamped the land around 18,000BC.

"This is the best preserved prehistoric landscape, certainly in the whole of Europe and possibly the world," said Prof Gaffney.
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« Reply #36 on: February 07, 2009, 09:10:36 am »





                      
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« Reply #37 on: April 13, 2009, 07:47:41 am »









                                         Airport dig unearths 1500 BC settlement





By Nigel Baudains
The Guernsey Press
March 30, 2009




The area highlighted shows the fields by La Route de Plaisance and La Rue de la Mare bought by the States for £135,000 last year and where the discovery was made. (0749133)


EVIDENCE of a prehistoric settlement has been discovered in fields that could be used for an airport runway extension.

Archaeologists working for the Public Services Department have uncovered signs of life in St Peter’s some 3,500 years ago on land at the west end of the current landing strip.

‘We don’t tend to find archaeology of where people lived - we only seem to get the places where the dead were buried with dolmens and suchlike,’ said States archaeology officer Phil de Jersey.

‘There was certainly late Bronze Age occupation here from 1500 BC to 1000 BC with pottery and flints present from the remains of the structures, postholes, and at least one ditch where there had been a lot of burning, for some reason.’

There was also a scattering of medieval pottery. However, there was no real evidence of structures, which might show the area had been farmed.

The States bought the fields, which are bordered by La Route de Plaisance and La Rue de la Mare, last year for £135,000.

An option under consideration for upgrading the airport runway is to extend it into them.

Article posted on 30th March, 2009 - 3.30pm
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« Reply #38 on: April 13, 2009, 07:50:46 am »









                                                  Rare Iron Age bowls unearthed






Mar 19 2009
WalesOnline


Rare Iron Age artefacts buried as part of a religious offering have been unearthed by an amateur treasure hunter.

Two bronze bowls and a bronze wine strainer, described by an expert as of “great importance for the UK,” were found by Craig Mills in his home city of Newport, South Wales.

The 35-year-old security guard came across the items in the Langstone area in December 2007, only nine months after he took up metal detecting.

It is believed the objects were used by ancestors for eating or drinking and were deliberately buried intact as a religious offering.

The items are believed to have been made around AD 25-60 and were buried at the time of the Roman army’s campaign against the Iron Age Silures tribe of South Wales, between AD 47 and 75.

The two near-complete bowls have rounded bases, carefully formed rims and decorated fittings with rings for hanging them up and the strainer has a rounded bowl-shaped body with a wide, flat rim and a similar suspension ring.

The decoration on all the vessels is of the late Celtic or La Tene style of the late Iron Age.

Adam Gwilt, curator of the Iron Age Collections at the National Museum of Wales, said: “This discovery is of great importance for Wales and the UK. Similar bowls have been found in western and southern Britain, but few find-spots have been carefully and recently investigated by archaeologists.

“It seems these valued and whole containers were carefully buried at the edge of an ancient bog or lake, as part of a ritual offering.

“We are looking forward to researching and investigating further during 2009, in order to reveal the full story of how these impressive decorated pieces were made, used and buried.”

Mr Mills said: “I didn’t realise how significant it was and I didn’t have a clue how old they were.

“I was detecting for nine months before that and I have found nothing like it.”

The items were declared treasure by Gwent coroner David Bowen under the Treasure Act of 1996.

It is hoped the bowls and wine strainer will be displayed at the National Museum of Wales in 2010 in the Origins: In Search of Early Wales gallery.
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