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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research project: Red Barns project - Dormant - Dormant

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Fieldwork at the site was originally carried out by Clive Gamble and Arthur Apsimon in 1975, leading to recovery of a massive (in every sense) lithic collection including over 8,000 artefacts, 2,000 natural flint nodules and 18,000 thermally fractured flint pieces. This collection was recently studied by Francis Wenban-Smith as an English Heritage-funded fellowship at Archaeology at the University of Southampton (Wenban-Smith et al 2000).

This study demonstrated that the site is older than previously thought, dating to at least 200,000 BP and probably to nearer 400,000 BP, and that lithic technology at the site was dominated by the production of pointed plano-convex handaxes. Study of the organisational structure of the lithic production gave an insight into the patterning of Archaic hominid behaviour, with the site serving as a locale were handaxes were regularly made, but from which they were normally removed before being used and abandoned elsewhere.

The study also led to several questions which required further fieldwork. Firstly, the extent and topography of the main archaeological horizon remained unknown. Secondly, more detailed sediment sampling for biological evidence was desirable. And thirdly, excavation of a further sample of lithic material with the orientation recorded could help understand how the main archaeological horizon was formed and whether it was undisturbed as indicated by the study of the 1975 material. Thus a field project was carried out in June 1999 with Southampton undergraduate students and two volunteers alerted by some publicity in the Portsmouth News, with the able supervision of Jenni Chambers, and funded by Archaeology at Southampton.

Related research groups

Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins
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