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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Professor Mark White

Ashton, N., Lewis, S., Parfitt, S & White, M.J. (2006). Riparian landscapes and human habitat preferences during the Hoxnian (MIS 11) Interglacial. Journal of Quaternary Science 21(5): 497-505.

Author(s) from Durham


The archaeological, environmental and geological data from Hoxnian Interglacial (Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 11) sites from Britain are examined to elucidate the type of habitats that humans preferred during this temperate episode. The conclusion is that humans avoided lacustrine situations, but did make use of the full range of resources that fluvial environments provide. This model is strengthened by the examination of other non-archaeological Hoxnian sites. The problem of archaeological visibility in lacustrine sediment sequences is also discussed and methods of identifying other evidence of human presence are suggested that may offset the deficiencies in the lithic record. These include presence of cut-marked bone, micro-debitage and possibly charcoal in fine-grained sediments deposited in distal settings. The reasons for human selection of fluvial situations are discussed. It is concluded that these environments provide a greater diversity of animal, plant and lithic resources, but also are major route-ways through the landscape. Patterns of human site use are identified, which seem to be triggered by local changes in hydrology and drainage, themselves possibly caused by regional changes in climate. Finally, Lower Palaeolithic sites on the interfluves are discussed. Although they lack environmental or dating evidence, it is tentatively suggested that they were used during cooler episodes, when more open conditions prevailed.