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Felix Riede

Neanderthals at the frontier? Geological potential of southwestern South Scandinavia as archive of Pleistocene human occupation

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Preservation and exposure of sediments is a prerequisite for finding archaeological traces. Regional geological history plays a significant and potentially biasing role in the reconstruction of the biogeographical distribution of Pleistocene hominins, particularly in previously glaciated regions. Here we present a digital geoarchaeological approach to a qualitative assessment of this archaeological bias in southwestern South Scandinavia. First, we identify time periods where the region was accessible and suitable for past humans. Our results show that only the longer Pleistocene interstadials offered terrestrial access in combination with potentially suitable habitats. Second, we present an extended digital geoarchaeological prospection of lacustrine, fluvial and palaeosol deposits and relict landscape features. This review guides the identification of preserved sediments of Pleistocene origin and confirms that Pleistocene deposits and landscape features are present in the study area, however, generally in a poor state and low quantity/quality. Third, we map the modern occurrence of sediment exposure through natural processes and anthropogenic activities. Triangulating the cumulated results of these three steps we identify three target areas which offer promising combinations of these factors: A) the Holsted and Rødding hill islands in Central South Jutland; B) the moraine landscape of Central East Jutland, and C) the intersections of buried valleys on the east coast of Jutland. To test the robustness of our prediction, it is necessary to regularly survey open quarries and exposures in these target areas. This should be the aim of future studies, ideally conducted, we suggest, using citizen science approaches that include relevant stakeholders.
Original languageDanish
Article number105870
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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