A Geochemical Signal from a Mesolithic Intertidal Archaeological Site: A Proof-of-Concept Study from Clachan Harbor, Scotland

Lukasz Mikolajczyk, J. Edward Schofield

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1 Citation (Scopus)


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
Issue number3
Early online date22 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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