Human-environment relationships in Upper Palaeolithic France: an holistic approach
The middle of the last glacial (about 35,000 years BP) to the start of the current warm period (about 12,000 years BP) is critically important for understanding hunter-gatherers in southern European refugia during the last glacial maximum and their subsequent expansion. This interval witnessed great climate variability, along with changes in human biogeography, an increase in human population size and extensive upheaval in faunal populations resulting in both regional and global extinctions. At this time humans strongly relied on large mammals and so faunal population dynamics and migratory behaviour are thought to have played a crucial role in dictating the rhythm of life for Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers in terms of their organisation, subsistence strategies, mobility, landscape use and settlement patterns. Although research into animal movement has been explored using various zooarchaeological techniques and limited isotopic data, no research has yet sought to widely integrate these with studies of landscape use, settlement patterns, and demography to obtain a holistic understanding of the behavioural response of large fauna to climate change and its subsequent influence on human behaviour.
I propose to integrate available data and undertake new zoological and isotopic analyses from Gravettian (c.35,000-22,000 Years BP), Solutrean (c.22,000-17,000BP) and Magdalenian (c.17,000-12,000BP) sites in southwestern France. I intend to integrate these various streams of evidence to see how changes or continuity of reindeer population/migration influence hunter-gatherer behaviour. Overall, I aim to provide a more nuanced understanding of human-environment relationships in the Upper Palaeolithic.