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Durham e-Theses
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A Fruity Subject: Fruit Availability and their Uses in the Mesolithic of Northwest Europe

NEWPORT, JAKE,CHARLES (2016) A Fruity Subject: Fruit Availability and their Uses in the Mesolithic of Northwest Europe. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 30 January 2022.

Abstract

This thesis combines archaeological, palynological and ethnographic approaches to the study of fruit in the Mesolithic period of Northwest Europe. This is to better understand the role that different fruits played in the lives of the hunter-gatherer communities at that time. The specific focus on fruit is a new approach to the study of Mesolithic Archaeology, where previously research has been focused on plant remains as a whole, within much more confined geographical areas. This research combines archaeological evidence and pollen core data highlighting what fruits were available, which of those fruits were used, and whether there may be a discrepancy between species available and found in the archaeological record. Ethnographic evidence is also examined in order to identify the possible uses for fruit species beyond simply fresh consumption. The research includes a compendium of fruit pollen evidence from the Fossil Pollen Database, a catalogue of published finds of fruit species evidence from archaeological excavation, a seasonality/availability calendar highlighting species biomes, and a comprehensive collection of ethnographic and historical uses of the fruits. The research identifies that fruit are an essential part of the hunter-gatherer diet, but also from which a number of products with significant economic value can be produced, particularly oil extracted from seeds and preserved foodstuffs containing periodically unavailable vital nutrients. It also uncovers and suggests reasons for a number of discrepancies between species present in the palynology and species for which there is archaeological evidence for, assisted by a comparison of ethnographic uses. Furthermore, the research indicates the value of fruit macro-fossils in contributing to our understanding of seasonal movement patterns of the Mesolithic communities of Northwest Europe and interpreting seasonal occupation on archaeological sites.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Mesolithic; Fruit; Palynology; Plant Macro-Fossil Analysis; Archaeobotany; Palaeo-ethnobotany; Diet; Foraging
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Feb 2017 11:59

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