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Lifeways at the Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition: Integrating New Biomolecular Approaches to Skeletal Material in Britain

Charlton, Sophy Jessica Laura (2016) Lifeways at the Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition: Integrating New Biomolecular Approaches to Skeletal Material in Britain. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition is a period which has long held fascination for archaeologists, and yet the lifeways of individuals at this time are still not fully understood – in part due to the lack of human remains in Britain from the period. This thesis therefore aimed to adopt a combined biomolecular approach to determine more information about the lifeways of both the Mesolithic and Neolithic of Britain, and of the transition between them, but utilising archaeological material not traditionally included within these debates – notably unidentifiable bone fragments, disarticulated skeletal remains, and dental calculus. Through analysis of these materials, the thesis focuses on five main areas of interest: identification, diet, mobility, chronology, and health/disease; utilising six different techniques: ZooMS, δ13C and δ15N stable isotope analysis, 86Sr/87Sr isotopic analysis, AMS dating, and metagenomic and metaproteomic analysis of dental calculus. As such, this marks the largest combined application of biomolecular techniques to British Mesolithic and Neolithic material to date. The results of this study highlight the value which may be held within previously overlooked early prehistoric archaeological materials, and the information which they may be able to contribute to existing discussions of Mesolithic and Neolithic lifeways. Overall, it can be seen that the main outcomes of this study are (i) that additional human remains may be present within early prehistoric ‘unidentifiable’ fragmented bone assemblages; (ii) dietary complexity in both the Mesolithic and Neolithic of Britain may be greater than previously thought; (iii) enhanced understanding of Neolithic mobility; (iv) a reconsideration of the approach to chronology at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition; and (v) that dental calculus may provide a suitable and useful new medium via which to study prehistoric health and disease in future studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Sophy Jessica Laura Charlton
Date Deposited: 17 May 2016 10:41
Last Modified: 21 May 2018 10:05
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12976

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