PhD research – Reassessing the Scottish Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition: Questions of Resource Use and Chronology
The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Scotland c.4000BC was a crucial period in our prehistory marked by massive social, cultural and economic change; yet many questions remain about the changes in subsistence and the timing of these changes. Many questions surrounding this topic remain unanswered. How did dietary habits change over time? Was the change in human diet gradual or rapid over the transition period? Was this change consistent across the country? Is our current understanding of the timing of the transition correct? This research aims to re-evaluate the dietary changes during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, and recalibrate existing radiocarbon dates, as well as contribute towards accurate and precise dates in the future.
Data from δ13C, δ15N and δ34S analysis of faunal bone collagen from sites across Scotland will be complimented by the analysis of bone collagen and flesh of modern analogues to form a large dietary baseline. This, along with the investigation of archaeological records, will provide a broad and detailed representation of prehistoric human diet, and the changes in subsistence across the transition period. The faunal baseline will also serve to recalibrate existing radiocarbon dates from the period. Statistical modelling will be used to calculate the % contribution of marine resources to the ancient diet, and a correction factor to account for the marine reservoir effect will be produced for Mesolithic and Neolithic human radiocarbon dates in Scotland. This will improve the understanding of the timing of the transition, and provide data to aid the calibration of future radiocarbon dates.
- Mesolithic and Neolithic archaeology
- Dietary reconstruction using stable isotope analysis
- Marine and aquatic radiocarbon reservoir effects
- J Bownes, P Ascough, G Cook, I Murray, K Sayle, C Bonsall. (2014). Reassessing the Scottish Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition: Questions of Resource Use and Chronology. Talk delivered at the Radiocarbon and Diet meeting, University of Kiel, Germany.
- J Bownes, P Ascough, G Cook, I Murray, K Sayle, C Bonsall. (2014). Reassessing the Scottish Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition: Questions of Resource Use and Chronology. Poster presented at the Historic Scotland and RCAHMS Heritage Research Showcase, Edinburgh, UK.
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