Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 2-2 (November 2010)Bart Vanmontfort; Marijn Van Gils; Etienne Paulissen; Jan Bastiaens; Marc De Bie; Els Meirsman: Human occupation of the Late and Early Post-Glacial environments in the Liereman Landscape (Campine, Belgium)

7 Conclusion

Like elsewhere in the Campine Region, intensive coring for archaeological remains at a well-chosen location was also successful at the Korhaan ridge in the Liereman Landscape. Conditions for palaeo-ecological and geomorphological research are truly unique in this area. The combination provides insight in the geomorphology of extensive areas and in the position of the archaeological remains within the natural landscape. Further research can help us to understand the evolution of the local landscape, specifically with respect to the formation history of Late Glacial aeolian relief and the general landscape evolution in the Campine region.

Being larger in extent and richer in finds than most comparable findspots in the region, this site is a prime example of the extensive site complexes that are typical for the Final Palaeolithic and Mesolithic occupation of the Campine region. At several locations within this site complex, the Final Palaeolithic and Mesolithic remains are stratigraphically separated by Younger Dryas sands which offer exceptional conservation conditions for the buried Final Palaeolithic artefacts and enables comparative studies of both industries. Based on their typology, an attribution of the buried Final Palaeolithic artefacts to the Federmesser groups seems most likely. Their stratigraphic position, restricted to the upper part of the Usselo horizon, is remarkable in this light and suggests that the artefacts were deposited at the end of the Allerød or at the very beginning of the Younger Dryas. The finds are laterally dispersed over at least 3 km with a variation in intensity which is strongly associated with the higher parts of the terrain along the (wet) depression. This distribution is thought to be the accumulation of debris left during repeated visits by small hunter-gatherer groups over a period of several centuries, or even millennia if both Final Palaeolithic and Mesolithic remains are taken into account. The data enable us to debate the settlement systems involved and two resulting hypotheses, one in which a homogeneous set of activities was ‘randomly’ distributed over the micro region, and another in which the artefact scatters are related to different activities. The precise position of each of the scatters within that settlement system, however, can only be determined on the basis of further and large-scale fieldwork. Furthermore, the persistence of the same settlement system throughout the Mesolithic period still has to be verified via further research. The exceptional preservation of the wider landscape around the site complex allows for such research. This opens perspectives for testing hypotheses on microregional land use of hunter-gatherers recurrently returning to persistent places across the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.