1 Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT, UK
2 School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
The North Sea has long been known by archaeologists as an area of Mesolithic occupation, and has even been argued as the heartland of the Mesolithic in North Western Europe. Yet this area remains effectively terra incognita to archaeologists, and the nature of its occupation, tantalisingly elusive. The submergence of this landscape has therefore effectively hindered archaeological research into this vitally important region. Yet this region contains one of the most detailed and comprehensive records of the Late Quaternary and Holocene, and its preserved sedimentary successions represent a mine of information that remains untapped by archaeologists. However the lack of direct data pertaining to this region results in all previous maps of the prehistoric landscape being at best hypothetical.
This paper will present results which illustrate that through the utilisation of spatially extensive oil industry data, the recovery information pertaining to the actual Mesolithic landscape of the North Sea is now possible. This information reveals the diversity of this landscape and shows that much greater consideration of submerged Mesolithic landscapes is now required of archaeologists. Whilst the study of such landscapes is in its infancy, the availability of such information offers the possibility of transforming how we interpret traditional terrestrial data and its relationship to the larger European Mesolithic.
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