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Could occupation duration be related to the diversity of faunal remains in Mesolithic shell middens along the European Atlantic seaboard?

Abstract : In order to define the Mesolithic populations that came to settle on the European Atlantic seaboard, it is essential to assess the duration and continuity of human occupation. Although our knowledge of the geographical distribution of these populations is largely truncated by archaeological bias, the presence of more than 240 Mesolithic shell middens along the European Atlantic coast enables us to establish an overview of the published data on the dwelling patterns (seasonal, permanent, recurrent or limited in time) of these groups of maritime hunter-gatherers. A review of the literature shows that information on human occupations is lacking for many known Mesolithic shell middens. Moreover, the data leading to the identification of settlement patterns prove to be very heterogeneous from one site to another. Marine molluscs play a special role among the artefacts used to define the attraction of human populations for the coast, and help us to understand settlement. Although molluscs represent a major component of Mesolithic shell middens, it has taken several decades for the analysis of these faunal remains to be considered from the outset in excavations. One of the questions addressed here is whether the diversity of faunal remains in these shell middens can be related to the duration of human occupations on the coast. This question is based on the idea that people staying in the same settlement for several seasons can explore the surrounding area in greater detail. In this paper we observe that the diversity of faunal remains, including seashells, is not only dependent on the way of life of coastal people and settlement duration. It also affects other factors, such as the accessibility of more or less diversified environments and their resources in the vicinity of settlements and the degree of adaptability of humans exploiting similar resources.
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Catherine Dupont. Could occupation duration be related to the diversity of faunal remains in Mesolithic shell middens along the European Atlantic seaboard?. Quaternary International, Elsevier, 2016, 407 (Part B), pp.145 - 153. ⟨10.1016/j.quaint.2016.01.039⟩. ⟨hal-01376220⟩

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