Stone tool changes may show how Mesolithic hunter-gatherers responded to changing climate

phys.org | 7/17/2019 | Staff
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The development of new hunting projectiles by European hunter-gatherers during the Mesolithic may have been linked to territoriality in a rapidly-changing climate, according to a study published July 17, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Philippe Crombé from Ghent University, Belgium.

As a result of warming occurring at a rate of ca. 1.5 to 2°C per century, hunter-gatherers in Europe during the Mesolithic era (approximately 11,000-6,000 years ago) experienced significant environmental changes, very similar to the ones we face today: rising sea levels, increased drought, plant and animal migrations and wildfires. Here, Crombé examined microliths, small stone arrowheads/barbs used in hunting, to see how their design and usage by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers shifted in conjunction with climatic and environmental changes.

Research - Decades - Crombé - Modelling - Correlations

Building on archaeological research from the last two decades, Crombé used Bayesian modelling to reveal potential correlations between 228 radiocarbon dates specific to Mesolithic sites along the southern North Sea basin and the different types and shapes of microliths (triangles, crescents, leaf-shaped and mistletoe-shaped microliths, trapezes, etc.) found at these sites.

The new model showed that variation in microlith shapes is much more complex than previously believed, with frequent co-existence between shapes. Crombé hypothesizes in this study that these different shapes of stone microliths were mainly developed as a means to differentiate between different groups living along the North Sea basin (previous research has suggested...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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