A Geochemical Signal from a Mesolithic Intertidal Archaeological Site

A Proof-of-Concept Study from Clachan Harbor, Scotland

Lukasz Mikolajczyk, J. Edward Schofield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper presents the results of multielemental mapping conducted on peat samples taken from a presumed Mesolithic coastal activity zone at the intertidal site of Clachan Harbor, Scotland. The aim of the study was to use peat geochemical analysis to assess possible evidence for an anthropogenic chemical signal within the peat that might be linked to the use of the site during the Mesolithic. Spatial changes in peat geochemistry revealed a "change point" within the peat bed that may reflect the former boundary between the human activity zone and the coastline. Enhanced dating of events was achieved by integrating the chemical dataset with an existing relative sea-level curve available for the site. The research demonstrates the advantages of using a multielemental method ahead of a single-element (e.g., phosphorous-only) approach when attempting to characterize and trace chemical evidence for past human activity in the intertidal zone. This paper will hopefully lead to the adoption of an improved methodology that can help us to better understand the development of coastal sites within an archaeological context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-413
Number of pages14
JournalGeoarchaeology-An International Journal
Volume32
Issue number3
Early online date22 Dec 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Fingerprint

Mesolithic
harbor
peat
human activity
evidence
intertidal environment
event
methodology
geochemistry
archaeological site
Harbors
Archaeological Sites
Peat
Scotland
sea level
coast
chemical
Coast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

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title = "A Geochemical Signal from a Mesolithic Intertidal Archaeological Site: A Proof-of-Concept Study from Clachan Harbor, Scotland",
abstract = "This paper presents the results of multielemental mapping conducted on peat samples taken from a presumed Mesolithic coastal activity zone at the intertidal site of Clachan Harbor, Scotland. The aim of the study was to use peat geochemical analysis to assess possible evidence for an anthropogenic chemical signal within the peat that might be linked to the use of the site during the Mesolithic. Spatial changes in peat geochemistry revealed a {"}change point{"} within the peat bed that may reflect the former boundary between the human activity zone and the coastline. Enhanced dating of events was achieved by integrating the chemical dataset with an existing relative sea-level curve available for the site. The research demonstrates the advantages of using a multielemental method ahead of a single-element (e.g., phosphorous-only) approach when attempting to characterize and trace chemical evidence for past human activity in the intertidal zone. This paper will hopefully lead to the adoption of an improved methodology that can help us to better understand the development of coastal sites within an archaeological context.",
author = "Lukasz Mikolajczyk and Schofield, {J. Edward}",
note = "This research was funded through a scholarship awarded to the lead author by the University of Aberdeen as part of the FAR North research program. The authors express their gratitude to James Parker, Kayleihg Hamilton, and OLYMPUS Corporation for providing “Olympus-Innov-X Delta Premium XRF scanner,” and to Jonathan Benjamin for advice in choosing a suitable site for sampling. Tim Mighall and Antonio Mart{\'i}nez Cortizas are thanked for their comments on an early version of the paper. We also thank two anonymous reviewers and editors for their helpful comments in improving the paper.",
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