Publication: Fluvial deposits as an archive of early human activity
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River terraces are well established as an important source of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic artefacts in Europe, large collections having been assembled there during the years of manual gravel extraction. Now that many terrace sequences can be reliably dated and correlated with the oceanic record, potentially useful patterns can be recognized in the distribution of artefacts. The earliest appearance of artefacts in terrace staircases, marking the arrival of the first tool-making hominins in the region in question, is the first of several archaeological markers within fluvial sequences. The Lower to Middle Palaeolithic transition, with the appearance of Levallois, is another. Others may be more regional in significance: the occurrences of Clactonian (Mode 1) industry, twisted ovate handaxes and bout coupe´ handaxes, for example. IGCP Project no. 449 instigated the compilation of fluvial records from all over the ‘old world’. Comparison between British and Central European sequences confirms the established view that there is a demarcation between handaxe making in the west and flake/core industries in the east. Other centres of activity reported here have been in the Middle East (Syria), South Africa and India. Data from such areas will be key in deciphering the story of the earlier ‘out-of-Africa’ migration, that by pre- Homo sapiens people. There is clear evidence for diachroneity between the first appearances of different industries, in keeping with the well-established idea of northward migration.