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Early Pleistocene conifer macrofossils from Happisburgh, Norfolk, UK, and their environmental implications for early hominin occupation
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies, Environmental Archaeology Lab. (Miljöarkeologiska laboratoriet)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2430-0839
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2020 (English)In: Quaternary Science Reviews, ISSN 0277-3791, E-ISSN 1873-457X, Vol. 232, article id 106115Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Continuing coastal erosion in the vicinity of Happisburgh in north Norfolk has revealed archaeological sites documenting early human presence during at least two episodes in the Early and early Middle Pleistocene. At Happisburgh 3, the oldest archaeological site in northern Europe (approximately 900,000 years old) finds include at least 80 flint artefacts and human footprints associated with abundant, well-preserved organic remains. The deposits consist of gravels and estuarine sands and silts contained within a complex of channels, which accumulated in the estuary of a large river, probably the ancestral River Thames. The environmental remains reflect a slow-flowing tidal river, at the limit of tidal influence, and a grassland valley bordered by conifer-dominated woodland. Analyses of the pollen, wood, cones and leaves have identified a diversity of coniferous taxa, with some unexpected central and southern European elements (Pinus mugo ssp. mugo, Pinus mugo ssp. rotundata and Juniperus thurifera) indicating a type of coniferous woodland no longer present in Europe today. Here we present the conifer finds and their environmental implications. A new multi-proxy consensus palaeoclimate reconstruction, using conifer and beetle mutual climatic ranges, confirms and refines previous indications of a more continental climate than today, with significantly colder winters. These results provide a new perspective for understanding the climate and environment encountered by Early Pleistocene hominins at the northernmost limit of their range.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2020. Vol. 232, article id 106115
Keywords [en]
Pleistocene, Palaeoenvironment, Mutual Climatic Range, Conifers, Europe, Hominin
National Category
Archaeology Geology Botany Other Humanities not elsewhere specified Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
environmental archaeology; Quarternary Geology; Physical Geography; Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-168606DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.106115OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-168606DiVA, id: diva2:1411128
Available from: 2020-03-03 Created: 2020-03-03 Last updated: 2020-03-03Bibliographically approved

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Buckland, Philip I.

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