Characterised by a series of dramatic climatic changes, the Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition (15,000-11,000 BP) was also witness to cultural transformations of Final Palaeolithic societies that are said to foreshadow the full development of regional entities during the subsequent Mesolithic. Research historical and source-critical analyses have, however, repeatedly questioned the validity of many of the cultural units used in this period; similarly, it is not clear to what degree social transmission dynamics drove the cultural changes observed in the archaeological record, or whether these reflect adaptations to changing environs. In the context of the European Research Council-funded project CLIOARCH, we bring computational, replicable, and reproducible approaches to bear on critical pinch points in this period: research history, the construction of cultural taxonomic units, and assessments of adaptation (Riede et al. 2020). Having reached the project’s half-way mark, we here take stock of some of the results obtained so far. We present reflections on data availability in the Final Palaeolithic and a bibliometric investigation of pertinent cultural evolutionary methods in this period. We then build on these insights to present fresh work that combines geometric morphometrics as applied to lithic material with Bayesian phylogenetics, and finally highlight how climate modelling and eco-informatics methodologies can be used to understand changing patterns of adaptation. Reflecting on the opportunities and challenges associated with these approaches, we reflect on what may be needed to advance open research into the next decade with relation to the Final Palaeolithic specifically and prehistory more broadly. In that sense and in addition to generating novel insights about our focus period, the CLIOARCH project trials a suite of practical applications for open science in archaeological research that bring us forward into the next decade.
- Riede, F., Hussain, S. T., Timmreck, C., & Svenning, J.-C. (2020). CLIOdynamic ARCHaeology: computational approaches to Final Palaeolithic/Early Mesolithic archaeology and climate change. Antiquity, 94(375), e13. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2020.85