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"Dynamic Landscapes, Coastal Environments and Human Dispersals" (DISPERSE)
Start date: Apr 1, 2011, End date: Mar 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"We aim to understand the relationship between dynamic changes in physical landscapes and patterns of human dispersal and development in prehistory, paying particular attention to the impact of active tectonics and sea-level change. We will:• Introduce and develop concepts and techniques of tectonic geomorphology and mapping to analyse the relationship between geological instability, complex topographies, and archaeological remains at a variety of geographical scales• Focus on the western Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea coast, a key, but little known, intermediary region between Africa and Eurasia, and draw on a wider comparative sample of key site-regions throughout the main axes of early dispersal in Africa, SW Asia and S Europe.• Develop strategies to explore the submerged landscapes and archaeology of the continental shelf, now recognised as a major gap in our understanding of the human story• Analyse the shell mounds of recent millennia to develop a detailed benchmark for what constitutes the archaeological signature of a coastal economy, and a guide to the interpretation of more vestigial data from earlier periods and the search for material on submerged coastlines when sea levels were lower• Synthesise the results with existing palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental data• Tackle the fundamental but hitherto unresolved technical challenge of how to distinguish in distributions of archaeological sites between genuine patterns of human habitat preference and geological effects of differential visibility• Produce a case study that demonstrates how long-term human engagement with the material world of a changing physical landscape and the cumulative palimpsests of archaeological deposits can give rise to new adaptations and new strategies of social action"
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