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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research project: Lynford Neanderthal project - Dormant - Dormant

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In 2012 Clive Gamble, Bill Boismier and Fiona Coward published the results of excavations at Lynford Quarry near the village of Mundford, Norfolk UK.

The finds, discovered in the spring of 2002, lay within rich organic sediments of an ancient stream channel. It was immediately realised that Lynford was a site of great international significance for the study of the most distinctive of human ancestors, Neanderthals.

A detailed archaeological excavation was undertaken with support from Ayton Asphalte, the quarry owners, and English Heritage, funded through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ASLF). A large team of archaeologists and quaternary scientists recovered exceptionally well-preserved Palaeolithic and palaeo-environmental information. More than one thousand mammoth bones representing at least eleven individuals were excavated along with other fauna and over two and a half thousand stone artefacts. Among these the large number of complete and broken handaxes marks Lynford as special in the Palaeolithic of Britain and Northern Europe.  The quality of the preservation allowed a full investigation of the way the deposits had been formed and how the animal bones and stones tools had come to be incorporated in them.

The association of woolly mammoth bones with Middle Palaeolithic bifaces, that include distinctive bout coupé handaxes, combined with the wealth of palaeoecological data - mammal remains, beetles, pollen and mollusca - makes Lynford the most important British site for studying when and how Neanderthals occupied, 60,000 years ago, the cold, open environments of what was then a peninsula of north-west Europe. These data provide a unique opportunity to investigate questions of Neanderthal hunting strategies and patterns of land use and to draw wider conclusions about their social structure in a demanding region of Ice Age Europe.

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