5.2. Implications

The implications of my findings are twofold, firstly they allow us to revaluate some of the commonly held perceptions about Irish mesolithic evidence and activities. Secondly there are also wider considerations about our treatment of the subject of movement and mobility in mesolithic contexts more generally.

Inferences for Irish mesolithic research

The integrated study of the use of lithic artefact collections 'across the landscape' has not previously been attempted in an Irish early prehistoric context. Although there have been several landscape based surveys focusing on early prehistoric activity and thus primarily lithic evidence (Woodman 1983; Green and Zvelebil 1990; Zvelebil et al. 1996), their analysis of the lithic artefact assemblages was never really integrated with the landscape evidence. Therefore the addition of this dimension to the various early prehistoric collections from Ireland has the potential to greatly enhance our understanding of both mesolithic and neolithic activity throughout this island. It also allows us to start discussing this material at a more human everyday scale as opposed to the very small scale assumed by lithic analysis or the broad scale of landscape surveys. By bringing these two scales together and focussing on the processes underlying the patterns identified we have a realistic chance of meaningfully discussing people's social actions and interactions with one another and with the world around them.

Moving beyond stereotypes - considerations for mesolithic mobility research

This focus on a human scale of analysis highlighting people's social lives and actions in the past will also help us to review and refine our models and constructs of early prehistoric movement in northwest Europe and beyond. As even the brief snapshots from my research have demonstrated, this perspective challenges the notion of prehistoric hunter-gatherer groups having based their decisions (whether in relation to movement or otherwise) primarily on functional or economic considerations. These fresh approaches to mesolithic mobility allow us for the first time to move away from the two dimensional 'lines and arrows across maps' and discuss actual human movement. In turn they also facilitate a breaking out from the strictly economist frameworks that have confined hunter-gatherer studies for much of the past four decades.


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