Session: #284

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Untangling the Final Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic in Europe [PaM]
The last Ice Age came to an end 11,500 years ago when rapid climate warming of c. 5-10°C occurred within decades radically transforming Europe’s environment. This change in the landscape had a significant impact on the fauna and, of course, on humans. From early on, the Pleistocene-Holocene transition was used to define the beginning of the Mesolithic and, based on typology, several archaeological traditions or groups were constructed. Shifting between different theoretical approaches during the 20th century, research largely focused on economic adaptation, technology and settlement history. In recent years the increase of data and the application of new methods allow a renewed discussion of the 10th millennium BCE. Among the new proposals is the result of recent research showing that the climatic changes do not necessarily align to cultural changes.
However, it remains debated how various traditions/groups relate to each other. Thus, untangling this complex web of archaeological traditions at the Pleistocene-Holocene interface in Europe will be the main focus of this session. We seek to question the division between Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology based on various case studies from across Europe, with particular interest in papers addressing several traditions from one region in terms of interrelatedness. We also welcome papers which address methodological or theoretical aspects, such as a pan-European terminology. Through a discussion of these problems we hope to offer a broader European perspective on the relationship between the various archaeological traditions at the Palaeolithic-Mesolithic interface thereby inspiring new thoughts on human responses to the Holocene climatic change. Questions we wish to address are:
- How can different Final Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic traditions be defined and how do these differ on a regional/European scale?
- How do different regions relate culturally during the 10th millennium BC?
- How can we define the “Final Palaeolithic” as opposed to the “Early Mesolithic”?
Human-environment interaction, Climate change, Palaeolithic-Mesolithic transition, Regional variations
Session associated with MERC:
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Main organiser:
Annabell Zander (United Kingdom) 1
Inger Marie Berg-Hansen (Norway) 2
Ebbe Nielsen (Switzerland) 3
Mikkel Sørensen (Denmark) 4
1. University of York
2. Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo
3. University of Bern
4. University of Copenhagen