Investigating the role of rivers during the Late Glacial recolonization of NW Europe: a multidisciplinary assessment of Final Palaeolithic sites in the Scheldt valley (Belgium)

01 November 2019 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
Late Glacial Final Palaeolithic Scheldt valley Sealed prehistoric sites River dunes Geoarchaeology Climate change
Project description

The Late Glacial (c. 12,700-9700 cal BC) is the final stage of the Pleistocene before the current warm Holocene and comprises several warm (e.g. Allerød) and cold (e.g. Younger Dryas) stages. During the Late Glacial, NW Europe was gradually recolonized by Final Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers belonging to different successive traditions. These groups preferably settled in sheltered environments (e.g. caves and rock shelters) and along river valleys such as the Seine, the Somme, the Rhine and the Meuse. However, remains of these Late Glacial settlers are scarce within the Scheldt valley of NW Belgium. Most known sites are situated in the dry sandy interior along the banks of former lakes and ponds. The current project aims at investigating whether this deviating settlement pattern in the Scheldt basin is the result of a bias caused by taphonomic factors, such as later depositions, or represents a prehistoric reality. In the latter case, arguments for the scarcity of Late Glacial sites in the Scheldt valley will be searched for. A second aim is to determine the impact of environmental and climatic forcing on human occupation and migration in the Late Glacial across this area. These research questions will be addressed by means of a multidisciplinary investigation of sand dunes situated along the floodplain of the Scheldt and its tributaries, representing dry locations in an overall wet environment suitable for human occupation.