Every end is a new beginning. An adaptive cycle in North-West Europe during the Weichselian Lateglacial

Author(s): Sonja Grimm

Year: 2015


Change in human societies is encouraged by innovators and slowed by traditional behaviour that provides the security of a running system. However, in times of significant climatic and environmental change traditional strategies might fail and innovations can become the more attractive option.

15,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers in north-western Europe were confronted with the important change from a glacial (Weichselian) to an interglacial period (Holocene) that was characterised by rapid fluctuations between stadial and interstadial conditions. Human groups had to adapt to these conditions. During this adaptive process, the Upper Palaeolithic traditions were replaced by the Final Palaeolithic way of life.

Based on reliably dated archaeological assemblages from northern France, southern Belgium, and western Germany, variations in technical, economic, and spatial behaviours are documented that reflect this replacement in the archaeological material. The distribution of the appearing variations over the studied time period gives an impression of the process of change in a human society and makes a comparison with the suggested developments in the concept of adaptive cycles possible. Furthermore, the contextualisation of this process in the climatic and environmental changes of the Weichselian Lateglacial allows a discussion about the role of these factors in changing human societies.

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Cite this Record

Every end is a new beginning. An adaptive cycle in North-West Europe during the Weichselian Lateglacial. Sonja Grimm. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398006)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;