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Subsistence, technology and resource use in Neolithic Orkney at the Ness of Brodgar

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lisa-Marie ShillitoORCiD


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The integration of thin section micromorphology with geochemistry and other complementary techniques is now well established as a means of understanding site formation processes, and has been applied successfully at several sites to understand complex deposits (e.g. Çatalhöyük; see Shillito et al. 2011). A new project at the Ness of Brodgar, Orkney, is developing a programme of micro-archaeological research to understand subsistence strategies and resource use in this island landscape. By targeting ashy deposits in middens, a comprehensive picture of fuel use from wood and non-wood sources can be constructed. Such analysis offers a complementary perspective on a finer scale to pollen analysis, which provides a broad, landscape-scale picture of environmental change. Targeting different areas of the site will enable us to assess the variability of activities, providing a more nuanced understanding of subsistence activities, but also a better understanding of the formation processes of intentionally constructed middens. Comparison with complementary analyses of hearths and occupation surfaces within buildings will enable the reconstruction of the pathways of movement of material from use to deposition.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shillito L-M, McKenzie J, Card N, Pike S, Chan B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Antiquity

Year: 2015

Volume: 348

Pages: proj gall

Acceptance date: 01/11/2015

Publisher: Durham University