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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research project: Crossing the Threshold: the evolution of place and landscape in earliest prehistory (Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) 2013-2016

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With an award of £570,000 from the AHRC we will investigate a critical period in deep human history. The three year project "Crossing the threshold: the evolution of place and landscape in earliest prehistory" will focus on the unparalleled archive of one hundred thousand stone tools and ice age faunal remains from the site of La Cotte on Jersey.

The spectacular granite cave that forms a headland on St Brelade's bay  was occupied by Neanderthals, and other early ancestors, for at least 200,000 years during a critical time in human evolution; a time when brains increased rapidly in size but when technology appears to have stood still. The four post-doc Fellows on the project will examine the settlement evidence and place La Cotte in its European and world context by comparing it with similar age sites.  They will be exploring the idea that super-sites like La Cotte are the first evidence for novel niche construction by these early ancestors; a niche that can be described as the first ‘hominin home' in a Middle Pleistocene landscape.

Two of the project's named Post-Docs, Dr Matt Pope and Dr Beccy Scott, strengthen CAHOs strategic partnerships with UCL's Institute of Archaeology and the British Museum's Department of Prehistory and Europe. The La Cotte project began in 2010 when these partners, together with Southampton archaeologists McNabb and Dr Andy Shaw, formed a consortium to reinvestigate the site and lay the groundwork for this successful AHRC application. Dr Marie-Anne Julien, who specialises in the study of Pleistocene fauna and the application of stable isotopes, joins us from the University of Montreal.

The project is supported by the States of Jersey , the Société Jersiaise and Jersey Heritage. The impact pathway to research-led heritage tourism figures prominently in the project and will form a case study in the REF2020.

Related research groups

Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins
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