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Excavations at the Lower Palaeolithic site at Elveden, Suffolk, UK

  • Nick Ashton (a1), Simon Lewis (a2), Simon Parfitt (a3) (a4), Ian Candy (a5), David Keen (a6), Rob Kemp (a5), Kirsty Penkman (a7), Gill Thomas (a8), John Whittaker (a3) and Mark White (a9)...
Abstract

The Lower Palaeolithic site at Elveden, Suffolk, was the subject of new excavations from 1995–1999. Excavations around the edge and in the centre of the former clay-pit revealed sediments infilling a lake basin that had formed in Lowestoft till, overlying Chalk, the till being attributed to the Anglian glaciation (MIS 12). The lake sediments contain pollen that can be assigned to pollen zones HoI and HoIIa of the early Hoxnian (MIS 11). Overlying grey clays contain ostracods, molluscs, vertebrates, and carbonate concretions. Together they are indicative of a fluvial environment in a temperate climate. AAR ratios (amino acid racemisation) on the molluscs also suggest correlation with MIS 11. Further indications of a fluvial context are indicated by thin spreads of lag gravel along opposite sides of the clay-pit, marking the edges of a channel. The gravel forms the raw material for the human industries which consist of handaxes, flake tools, flakes, and cores. Further artefacts are found in the overlying black clay, which is interpreted as a palaeosol that formed with the silting-up of the channel. The basin was further infilled with colluvial ‘brickearths’, which also contain artefacts that are probably derived from the underlying gravel. Further evidence of soil formation was identified in the ‘brickearth’. Coversands with periglacial involutions overlie the ‘brickearth’ at the top of the sequence. These probably formed in the last cold stage, the Devensian (MIS 5d-2).

Résumé

Le site du paléolithique inférieur à Elveden, Suffolk, a fait l'objet de nouvelles fouilles entre 1995 et 1999. Des fouilles en bordure et au centre d'une ancienne carrière d'argile ont mis en évidence des sédiments de remplissage d'un bassin lacustre qui s'était formé en terrain erratique de Lowestoft, recouvrant de la craie, l'argile à blocaux a été attribuée à la période glaciaire Anglian (MIS12). Les sédiments lacustres contiennent du pollen qu'on peut rattacher aux zones polliniques HoI et HoIIa de l'Hoxnien primitif (MIS11). Les couches d'argile grise qui le recouvrent contiennent des ostracés, des mollusques, des vertébrés, et des concrétions de carbonate. L'ensemble indique un environnement fluvial sous un climat tempéré. Les rapportsde RAA (racémisation des acides aminés) sur les mollusques donnent également à penser qu'il existe une corrélation avec MIS11. Parmi les autres éléments qui indiquent un contexte fluvial, on trouve de minces étendues de graviers résiduels le long des côtés opposés de la carrière d'argile, marquant les bords d'un chenal. Le gravier constitue la matière première pour les industries humaines qui consistent en bifaces, outils sur éclats, éclats et noyaux. Des objets supplémentaires se trouvent dans la couche d'argile noire supérieure, qu'on a interprétée comme étant un paléosol qui se serait formé avec l'envasement du chenal. Le bassin a de plus été comblé par des ‘terres à briques’ de colluvionnement, qui contenaient également des objets, probablement dérivés du gravier sousjacent. Des témoignages supplémentaires de la formation des sols ont été identifiés dans la ‘terre à briques’. Des sables de couverture avec des involutions périglaciaires recouvrent la ‘terre à briques’ en haut de la séquence. Ceux-ci furent probablement formés au cours de la dernière période froide, le Devensien.

Zusammenfassung

1995–1999 wurden neue Ausgrabungen an der altpaläolithischen Fundstelle in Elveden, Suffolk unternommen. Die Ausgrabungen wurden am Rand und im Zentrum der ehemaligen Tongrube legten Sedimente eines Seebeckens offen, das sich im Lowestoft Geschiebe während der Anglian Vereisung über der Kreide gebildet hatte (MIS 12). Die Seesedimente enthalten Pollen, die den Pollenzonen HoI und HoIIa des frühen Hoxnian (MIS 11) zugeordnet werden können. Darüber liegende graue Tone enthalten Ostracods, Mollusken, Wirbeltiere und Karbonat Verwaschungen. Zusammen genommen sind sie ein Beispiel einer fluvialen Umwelt in einem gemäßigten Klima. Die AAR-Verhältnisse (Racemisierung von Aminosäuren) auf den Mollusken legen auch eine Korrelation mit MIS 11 nahe. Weitere Indikatoren für einen fluvialen Kontext sind durch die dünne Streuung von zurück gebliebenen Schotter entlang den beiden gegenüber liegenden Tongrubenrändern gegeben, die gleichzeitig die Ränder eines Kanals markieren. Der Schotter bildet das Rohmaterial für die Steingeräteindustrie, die aus Faustkeilen, Abschlaggeräten, Abschlägen und Kernen besteht. Weitere Artefakte wurden in dem darüber liegenden schwarzen Ton gefunden, der als fossiler Boden interpretiert wird und sich aus der Verschlammung des Kanals gebildet hat. Das Becken füllte sich weiter mit kolluvialen ‘Ziegeltonen’, die ebenfalls Artefakte enthielten, die wahrscheinlich aus dem unterliegenden Schotter stammen. Weitere Nachweise von Bodenbildung konnte im ‘Ziegelton’ identifiziert werden. Deckensand mit periglazialen Erhebungen liegt über dem ‘Ziegelton’ auf der oberste Stelle der Sequenz, die sich wahrscheinlich in der letzten Kaltphase, dem Devensian bildete.

Résumen

El yacimiento del Paleolítico Inferior de Elveden, Suffolk, ha sido objeto de nuevas excavaciones entre 1995–1999. Las excavaciones alrededor del perímetro y en el centro de la antigua mina de arcilla descubrieron sedimentos que rellenaban un fondo de lago, formado sobre morrena de Lowestoft, que a su vez yacía sobre la creta, mientras que la morrena es atribuida a la glaciación de Anglian (MIS 12). Los sedimentos del lago contienen polen que puede ser asignado a las zonas de polen HoI and HoIIa de comienzos del interglacial de Hoxnian (MIS 11). Las arcillas grises suprayacentes contienen ostracodos, moluscos, vertebrados, y concreciones carbonosas. Todos juntos indican un medioambiente de tipo fluvial en un clima templado. Las proporciones de AAR (racemización de aminoácidos) en los moluscos también sugieren una correlación con MIS 11. Indicaciones adicionales de un contexto fluvial vienen dadas por finas capas de grava a lo largo de los lados opuestos de la mina de arcilla, y que marcan los bordes de un canal. La grava constituye la materia prima para las industrias humanas, que consisten en hachas de mano, herramientas de lasca, lascas, y núcleos. Otros objetos han sido hallados en la arcilla negra suprayacente, interpretada como un paleosuelo formado al cegarse el canal. El fondo de lago fue rellenado después por sedimentos arcillosos de origen coluvial, que también contienen artefactos probablemente derivados de la grava inferior. Se identificaron otras evidencias de la formación de suelos en dichos terrenos arcillosos. Sedimentos eólicos con involuciones periglaciales suprayacen los sedimentos arcillosos en la parte superior de la secuencia. Probablemente éstos se formaron durante la última fase fría, el Devensian.

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