Middle Palaeolithic artefact migration due to periglacial processes; a geological investigation into near-surface occurrence of Paleolithic artefacts (Limburg - Eastern Brabant coversand region, the Netherlands)
The original distribution pattern of Middle-Palaeolithic artefacts may be affected by tectonic movement, sedimentation and periglacial processes. This is e.g. the case in the coversand area of Limburg and Eastern Brabant (NL), where the occurrence of numerous finds in a SW-NE trending zone across the Roer Valley Graben is considered enigmatic. In order to elucidate the processes affecting the spatial distribution and the chance of recovery of such artefacts, we investigated a site in Nederweert. At this site, several Middle-Palaeolithic artefacts had been recovered earlier from unexpectedly shallow depths. A test pit profile and grain size analyses revealed that the shallow sediments at this site have been affected by intense, multi-phase cryoturbation, which has deformed the sand and loam layers and partially mixed them thoroughly. The results of this study form a basis for improving the Indicative Map of Archaeological Values that is used to predict the presence of archaeological sites. The insights gained are also relevant to other areas where Middle-Palaeolithic sites are affected by periglacial processes.
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