Nick M Ashton

Nick M Ashton
British Museum · Prehistory & Europe

Doctor of Philosophy

About

120
Publications
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3,060
Citations
Citations since 2016
48 Research Items
1762 Citations
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300

Publications

Publications (120)
Article
Our understanding of when hominins first reached northern Europe is dependent on a fragmented archaeological and fossil record known from as early as marine isotope stage (MIS) 21 or 25 (c. 840 or 950 thousand years ago [Ka]). This contrasts sharply with southern Europe, where hominin occupation is evidenced from MIS 37 to 45 (c. 1.22 or 1.39 milli...
Article
A terrestrial (lacustrine and fluvial) palaeoclimate record from Hoxne (Suffolk, UK) shows two temperate phases separated by a cold episode, correlated with MIS 11 subdivisions corresponding to isotopic events 11.3 (Hoxnian interglacial period), 11.24 (Stratum C cold interval), and 11.23 (warm interval with evidence of human presence). A robust, re...
Article
Full-text available
The appearance of the Acheulean and the production of new bifacial tools marked a revolution in human behavior. The use of longer and complex operative chains, with centripetal and recurrent knapping, adapted to different raw materials, created long useful edges, converging in a functional distal end. How and why these handaxes vary has been the su...
Article
Studies of flake tools in the British Lower Paleolithic are rare owing to lower quantities of flake tools than handaxes and the perception that flake tool technology became more important in the succeeding Middle Paleolithic. In Britain, and Europe more broadly, MIS 9 (328–301 ka) has been characterized as a period of technological transition owing...
Article
The establishment of the Acheulean in Europe occurred after MIS 17, but it was after the harsh glaciation of MIS 12 and during the long interglacial of MIS 11 that human occupation of Western Europe became more sustained, with an increased number of sites. Menez-Dregan I (Brittany, France) is one of the key sites in Western Europe that dates from t...
Article
The Bytham River was one of the major pre-Anglian (MIS 12) rivers of eastern England. Flowing from the Midlands to the East Anglian coast, it has been recognised at numerous sites by its distinctive lithological suite, containing significant quantities of quartzite, quartz and Carboniferous chert that originate from central England. In the Brecklan...
Article
Full-text available
Fluvial terrace sequences of Pleistocene rivers provide a chronological framework for examining broad patterns of change in the Palaeolithic record. Collections of artefacts recovered from individual terraces represent a time-averaged sample of the range of lithic technology discarded in a river valley over thousands of years. These can be compared...
Article
The period between 600 and 400 ka is a critical phase for human evolution in Europe. The south and northwest saw a dramatic increase in sites, the spread of handaxe technology alongside bone and wooden tool manufacture, efficient hunting techniques, and the use of fire. Lithic assemblages show considerable variation, including the presence/absence...
Article
The Early and early Middle Pleistocene archaeological record in Britain from c. 900 to 500 ka marks a critical shift in human occupation of northwest Europe, from occasional pioneer populations with simple core and flake technology to more widespread occupation associated with the appearance of Acheulean technology. Key to understanding this record...
Chapter
Full-text available
Human footprints were discovered at Happisburgh, UK, in 2013. This paper describes their discovery and the difficulties of recording such enigmatic remains in a coastal environment. The geological and environmental context in which they were found is given, together with the evidence of the dating of the site to either 850,000 or 950,000 years ago....
Article
Full-text available
Recent archaeological discoveries from exposures of the Cromer Forest‐bed Formation at Happisburgh, UK, have radically changed interpretations of the nature and timing of early hominin occupation of northern latitudes, but this in situ archaeology is only one part of the picture. Surface finds of Pleistocene mammalian remains have been found along...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a unified methodology to describe critical features in lithic assemblages, in order to better interpret the Middle Pleistocene hominin occupation of western Europe, in the context of the Western European Acheulean Project (WEAP). This project aims to characterise the Acheulean technology of the western side of Europe by the anal...
Article
Fossil hominin footprints provide a direct source of evidence of locomotor behaviour and allow inference of other biological data such as anthropometrics. Many recent comparative analyses of hominin footprints have employed 3D analytical methods to assess their morphological affinities, comparing tracks from different locations and/or time periods....
Article
Full-text available
Nowadays, the fruitful discussion regarding the morphological variability of handaxes during the Middle Pleistocene has reached a decisive moment with the use of more accurate statistical methods, such as geometric morphometrics (GM) and multivariate analyses (MA). This paper presents a preliminary methodological approach for checking the utility o...
Article
Early Levallois core technology is usually dated in Europe to the end of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 9 and particularly from the beginning of MIS 8 to MIS 6. This technology is considered as one of the markers of the transition from lower to Middle Paleolithic or from Mode 2 to Mode 3. Recent discoveries show that some lithic innovations actually ap...
Chapter
The Early Middle Palaeolithic of southern Britain is best represented by the record recovered from within the terraces of the Thames, within which some attempt has been made to correlate particular sites to substage level within MIS 7. It has been suggested that there are particular features of the British record which suggest both shared features...
Conference Paper
The Early Middle Palaeolithic of southern Britain is best represented by the record recovered from within the terraces of the Thames, within which some attempt has been made to correlate particular sites to substage level within MIS 7. It has been suggested that there are particular features of the British record which suggest both shared features...
Article
Identification of cultural groups is rare in the early Palaeolithic due to site formation processes including taphonomy and the effect of raw material and site function. This paper reviews a critical period in Europe at about 400 ka (MIS 11) when we may be able to identify such groups. This period, sees more sustained occupation and evidence of new...
Article
In a recent paper (Lewis et al., 2019) we reported the results of geological and archaeological investigations at Happisburgh Site 1. We also considered the significance of the site for understanding the human occupation of northern Europe during the early Middle Pleistocene. In a comment on the paper, Gibbard et al. (2019) raise a number of issues...
Article
Full-text available
A better understood chronological framework for the Middle Pleistocene of Britain has enabled archaeologists to detect a number of temporally-restricted assemblage-types, based not on ‘culture historical’ schemes of typological progression but on independent dating methods and secure stratigraphic frameworks, especially river-terrace sequences. Thi...
Article
The timing, environmental setting and archaeological signatures of an early human presence in northern Europe have been longstanding themes of Palaeolithic research. In the space of 20 years, the earliest record of human occupation in Britain has been pushed back from 500 ka (Boxgrove) to 700 ka (Pakefield) and then to >800 ka (Happisburgh Site 3)....
Article
Full-text available
The morphological variability of large cutting tools (LCT) during the Middle Pleistocene has been traditionally associated with two main variables: raw material constraints and reduction intensity. Boxgrove — c.500 ka — is one of the most informative sites at which to analyze shaping strategies and handaxe morphological variability in the European...
Article
Full-text available
The British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic record makes an important contribution to understanding the early occupation of northern Europe, in particular, through the detailed, systematic and multidisciplinary excavations of key sites. However, it is the historic collections, amassed by a large number of collectors over a 100-year period from the 18...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Acheulean technology marked a revolution and its presence can be clearly tracked along the European seaboard from the lberian Peninsula to Great Britain, mainly between 700 to 300ka. Nevertheless, to go beyond the local perspective and gain a regional point of view requires a deep understanding of the underlying technology to identify the diffe...
Conference Paper
The Acheulean technology marked a revolution and its presence can be clearly tracked along the European seaboard from the lberian Peninsula to Great Britain, mainly between 700 to 300ka. Nevertheless, to go beyond the local perspective and gain a regional point of view requires a deep understanding of the underlying technology to identify the diffe...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The different criteria used to analyze and to categorize the results through the different research traditions make difficult to compare data. Although many technological approaches have been developed, there are still differences in method between the different countries in the study of the Middle Pleistocene industries in the Western side of Euro...
Chapter
This paper focuses on the early evidence of assemblages with bifacial tools, in particular their technology within the context of chronology and geography, focusing on the sites of La Noira, Arago levels P and Q and Cagny-la-Garenne I–II in France, Brandon Fields, Maidscross Hill, High Lodge and Boxgrove in the UK, and Notarchirico in Italy. Assemb...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The re-use and recycling of artefacts can be studied through a number of avenues, including refitting, diacritical and use wear analyses. Reuse could refer to different stages in the life of a tool whilst in the possession of a single hominin individual but sometimes the presence of a discard phase between the different technical/functional episode...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Boxgrove-c.500ka-represents one of the richest and more interesting sites at which to analyse shaping strategies and morphological variability inthe European Middle Pleistocene handaxes, due to the high quantity of finished handaxes and also to the presence of complete operative chains. The morphological variability of Large Cutting Tools during th...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Acheulean technology marked a revolution and its presence can be clearly tracked along the European seaboard from the Iberian Peninsula to Great Britain, mainly between 700 to 300ka. Nevertheless, to go beyond the local perspective and gain a regional point of view requires a deep understanding of the underlying technology to identify the diffe...
Data
Principal components 1 and 2 morphometric shape data of the planform and profile form, showing morphological variations (Boxgrove-Q1/B), according to the different shaping stages: testing (black dots), rough-outs (green diamonds), fragmented rough-outs (turquoise triangles), shaping (blue squares), and finishing (red crosses). On the left, the PCA...
Data
a) Summary of the shaping strategies documented at Q/1B, Boxgrove (modified from García-Medrano, 2011). Note that multiple options exist to get the final shapes. Blue square inset shows the possible use of irregular fragments (resulting from the initial roughing-out phase) as cores. b) Boxgrove-Q1/B handaxe examples, showing morphological variabili...
Article
Britain has a rich and well-documented earlier Palaeolithic record, which provides a unique resource to investigate population dynamics and the cultural and geographical links with north-west Europe during the Middle Pleistocene. This paper examines a newly enhanced dataset for the distribution of finds locations and their geological context. Using...
Conference Paper
Fossilised footprints are the most direct, unequivocal evidence of locomotor behaviour and can be a source for inferring kinematic and other biological data. Advances in 3D modelling have been pivotal in pioneering methodological approaches to documenting and studying footprints[1,2]. Nevertheless, environmental conditions and other risks of immedi...
Presentation
Fossilised footprints are the most direct, unequivocal evidence of locomotor behaviour and can be a source for inferring kinematic and other biological data. Environmental conditions and other risks of immediate damage to these fragile fossils necessitate rapid recording, often resulting in poor resolution 3D data capture. This was particularly evi...
Article
Full-text available
The Breckland is one of the most important areas in Britain for understanding the changing nature of human occupation of north-west Europe through deep time. An unparalleled geological sequence spanning a million years provides the stratigraphic framework in which the region’s Lower and Middle Palaeolithic record can be examined and understood. The...
Article
Full-text available
This paper reports new fieldwork at Warsash which clarifies the terrace stratigraphic framework of the Palaeolithic archaeology of the region. Sections were recorded in former gravel pits and at coastal locations, supplemented by the use of ground penetrating radar and luminescence dating techniques. The region’s extensive borehole archive was also...
Article
Britain has an important geological, environmental and archaeological record for Marine Isotope Stage 11 (MIS 11), which makes a major contribution to understanding of the human occupation of northern Europe. New fieldwork at Barnham, Suffolk, UK, has identified through improved geological resolution the change in assemblages from simple core and f...
Article
This paper presents new work on the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic assemblages recovered from Pleistocene gravels of the River Test at Warsash, Hampshire. Historic map and artefact analyses enable the geological context to be established for substantial portions of the Warsash Palaeolithic record, which, when combined with new data relating to regio...
Article
Full-text available
The nature of the Lower–Middle Palaeolithic transition has been one of the most debated questions in early Prehistory since the mid-20th century. The root of these debates lies primarily in how early prehistorians constructed chronological models, relying heavily upon index fossils. Such models have “artificial boundaries designed to provide struct...
Article
This paper provides an overview of the MIS 11 record for Britain. The glacial history of Britain, in particular the Anglian glaciation of MIS 12, enables the identification of a number of sites that can be attributed to MIS 11. The good biological preservation at several of the sites allows correlation between them and therefore a better understand...
Article
Full-text available
The morphological variability of Large Cutting Tools during the Middle Pleistocene has been traditionally associated with two main variables: the raw material constraints and the reduction intensity. Boxgrove –c.500ka– represents one of the richest and more interesting sites at which to analyse shaping strategies and morphological variability in Eu...
Article
The introduction of biface technology in the Lower Palaeolithic arguably marked a fundamental change in how early hominins dealt with their world. It is suggested to reflect changes not just in tool form and innovative shaping, but also in planning depth, landscape use and social structures. This paper examines in detail the chronology of the first...
Article
Increasing evidence suggests that bifacial technology (Acheulian, Mode 2) arrived in Europe during the early Middle Pleistocene, i.e. significantly earlier than previously proposed. In northern France and Britain, much of the age attribution for these assemblages has been based on biostratigraphy and lithostratigraphy rather than absolute dates. Th...
Article
The introduction of biface technology in the Lower Palaeolithic arguably marked a fundamental change in how early hominins dealt with their world. It is suggested to reflect changes not just in tool form and innovative shaping, but also in planning depth, landscape use and social structures. This paper examines in detail the chronology of the first...
Article
The introduction of biface technology in the Lower Palaeolithic arguably marked a fundamental change in how early hominins dealt with their world. It is suggested to reflect changes not just in tool form and innovative shaping, but also in planning depth, landscape use and social structures. This paper examines in detail the chronology of the first...
Article
The British Middle Palaeolithic record can be divided between an early period of occupation (EMP) mainly from late MIS 8 to early MIS 7 characterised by Levallois technology and a late phase of occupation (LMP) in early MIS 3 generally characterised by discoidal technology with flat-butted cordate and bout coupé handaxes. This paper discusses the m...
Article
Roux Valentine & Bril Blandine (ed.). Stone knapping: the necessary conditions for a uniquely hominin behaviour. xii+356 pages, 146 illustrations, 39 tables. 2005. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research; 1-902937-34-1 hardback £35. - Volume 81 Issue 312 - Nick Ashton
Chapter
Introduction A major research debate over the past 25 years has been the environmental context of the early human occupation of northern Europe. The groundwork was laid and agendas set by Clive Gamble’s seminal work ‘The Palaeolithic Settlement of Europe’ (1986) which provided a framework for describing the environmental background and understandin...
Chapter
Full-text available
This paper provides an initial examination of the distribution of handaxe sites compared to Levallois sites in Britain based on the recently digitised Palaeolithic site records at the British Museum. The pattern suggests a wide distribution of handaxe sites across southern and eastern England in contrast to a more limited distribution of Levallois...
Article
Full-text available
Investigations at Happisburgh, UK, have revealed the oldest known hominin footprint surface outside Africa at between ca. 1 million and 0.78 million years ago. The site has long been recognised for the preservation of sediments containing Early Pleistocene fauna and flora, but since 2005 has also yielded humanly made flint artefacts, extending the...
Article
Choppers and chopping tools have long been associated with the Clactonian industries of Britain. They have either been dismissed as cores, or often described as woodworking tools, but have rarely been studied from a functional perspective. The purpose of this paper is to publish the results of a series of experiments which has been carried out to i...
Article
In the summer of 1978 pottery and flintwork were noticed in the sections to the south of Cliffe Village during the laying of a pipeline by British Gas (TQ 734744) (fig. 1). This led to the excavation of a series of small trial trenches by Mr David Thomson with the help of local volunteers in the same year. The retrieval of a Beaker and Collared Urn...
Article
Full-text available
The Lower Palaeolithic site at Elveden, Suffolk, was the subject of new excavations from 1995–1999. Excavations around the edge and in the centre of the former clay-pit revealed sediments infilling a lake basin that had formed in Lowestoft till, overlying Chalk, the till being attributed to the Anglian glaciation (MIS 12). The lake sediments contai...
Article
There are now a growing number of sites with a range of proxies that enable a reconstruction of the human habitats of Early and Middle Pleistocene sites in northern Europe. This paper reviews the British record from these periods and concludes that humans were able to survive in a range of climatic and vegetational zones from the earliest occupatio...
Article
This chapter re-examines key assemblages from the Thames Valley which can confidently be assigned to the early Middle Palaeolithic (Marine Isotope Stages 8–6). The assemblages are characterised in terms of human activity at each place, in order to understand patterns of adaptation, technological practice, demography and landscape use in different p...
Article
This chapter examines the changing human demography of Britain during the Lower and early Middle Palaeolithic using Palaeolithic handaxe densities in the Middle Thames and Solent rivers as proxies for relative population. Peak populations are suggested for Marine Isotope Stages (MISs) 13 and 11, and population decline is indicated after MIS 10. Thi...
Article
This chapter investigates the background to the emergence of Levallois technologies in Europe by reviewing the development of the broader range of Mode 3 (prepared core) technologies from across Africa and Eurasia. A variety of distinctive techniques are discussed, including large flake reduction from India, together with Victoria West and Kombewa...
Article
This chapter reviews the archaeological evidence for human presence and absence in Britain during the last interglacial Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5e (Ipswichian) compared with the evidence for occupation during MIS 7. An inventory of 139 sites provides the basis for this review. The data are evaluated using current stratigraphic and biostratigraph...
Chapter
This chapter explores the regional context of Early Middle Palaeolithic Britain as the northwesternmost edge of the European landmass between Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 8 and 6. During this period, Levallois flaking became favoured as a problem-solving strategy in northwest Europe, and handaxes were not routinely manufactured in most areas. Here w...
Article
Full-text available
The late Middle Pleistocene sites in the Ebbsfleet Valley, Kent, UK, have yielded archaeological assemblages critical to understanding the early Middle Palaeolithic of northwestern Europe. Despite a long history of research, the nature and context of these assemblages are still poorly understood. This paper clarifies the stratigraphic, environmenta...
Article
Full-text available
The dispersal of early humans from Africa by 1.75 Myr ago led to a marked expansion of their range, from the island of Flores in the east to the Iberian peninsula in the west. This range encompassed tropical forest, savannah and Mediterranean habitats, but has hitherto not been demonstrated beyond 45 degrees N. Until recently, early colonization in...