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17 January 2013
Mesolithic man should be re-named 'hunter-gatherer-farmer'

Recent research by the University of Reading (UK), Department of Archaeology, has cast some doubt on the long held belief that Mesolithic man was solely a hunter-gatherer. The evidence to fuel these doubts has been discovered at a dig near Newport, in Wales, on the banks of the Severn Estuary. Evidence has been found of fires (to encourage plant growth) and nut shells, dating back over 7,500 years.
     The Head of the Department, Professor Martin Bell, is quoted as saying "Combining our finds with trees, pollen and insects from the area we can build a picture of the environmental relationships of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. These people were highly adaptable and continued using the same site as the environment changed dramatically from old woodland to reedswamp, to saltmarsh and back to fen woodland."
     But this has not been the only significant find on this site. Stone Age footprint trails have been uncovered, including thos of children, a very rare record. But all of this is under threat by a proposed Severn Tidal Barrage which would have the effect of maintaining high water levels in the area, with devastating consequences, as Professor Bell explains "The tidal range will be educed, sites will be permanently submerged, sedimentation will increase in some areas and, as patterns of erosion change, some sites, including those with exceptional preservation of organic artefacts, may be rapidly destroyed."

Edited from PhysOrg (4 January 2013), South Wales Argus (6 January 2013)

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