Archaeologists exfoliate light on the lives of Stone Age huntsman- gatherers in Britain
A team of archaeologists from the Universities of Stirling and Manchester has made a discovery that sheds new light on the communities that lived in Britain after the end of the last Ice Age.
Excavations by the team at a site in North Yorkshire have uncovered the exceptionally well-preserved remains of a small settlement inhabited by groups of huntsman-gatherers some ten and a half thousand years ago. Among the things the team recovered were the bones of animals the people huntsman, tools and weapons made of bone, antler and stone, and rare traces of woodworking.
The site near Scarborough originally lay on the edge of an island in an ancient lake and dates to the Mesolithic, or ‘Middle Stone Age’ period. Over thousands of years the lake gradually filled with thick deposits of peat, which gradually buried and protected the site.
Dr Nick Overton from the University of Manchester said:
It is very rare to find material so old in such good condition. The Mesolithic in Britain was before the introduction of pottery or metals, so finding organic remains such as bone, antler and wood, which are not usually preserved, are incredibly important in helping us reconstruct people’s lives.
Analysis of the finds is allowing the team to learn more and change much of what was previously understood about these early prehistoric communities. The bones show that people were hunting a wide range of animals in many different habitats around the lake, including large mammals such as elk and red deer, small mammals such as beaver, and waterfowl. Carcasses of hunted animals which were killed by huntsman and parts of them intentionally deposited in the wetlands at the island site.
Dr Barry Taylor from the University of Chester said:
We know from research at other sites around the lake that these human communities were intentionally managing and manipulating wild plant communities. As we do more work on this site, we will be able to show in more detail We expect to see how humans were changing the structure of this environment thousands of years before the start of agriculture in Britain.