News from the Ice Age: Mobility, Connectivity and Home or How Our Ice Age Ancestors Might Tell Us Something about Adapting to Climate Challenges

Lecture | August 1 | 7:30-9 p.m. |  Hillside Club

 2286 Cedar, Berkeley, CA 94709

 Meg Conkey, Professor emerita, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

 Archaeological Research Facility

This event is free to the public. Donations accepted.
I have been on the Berkeley faculty for 32 years. My research as an anthropological archaeologist has centered on the peoples of the later Ice Age in Europe (what we call the Upper Paleolithic or Late Stone Age) in both Cantabrian Spain and the French Midi-Pyrénées. Our research in this part of France has focused first on the regional archaeological survey project, “Between the Caves” (1993-2006) and, since 2006, on the excavation of a unique open-air settlement site (called Peyre Blanque) dating to about 17,000 years ago with a large and unique stone structure.
In this talk, I will relate some of this research that has focused on what we call a landscape archaeology, and on trying to understand the lives and life-spaces of our ancestors in a wider social context by means of two research strategies: first, on what an archaeological survey project can yield about past land uses and occupations, and second, on what the excavation of an unusual ridge top (not cave!) site can yield about open-air lives of the people who are usually stereotyped as “cavemen”.
But, perhaps of more immediate relevance would be the insights we are getting more widely about how some of these ancestors in the southwest of what is today Europe addressed the climate challenges that they had to face with a warming trend at the “end” of the Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago, with the displacement of plant and animal communities, and with the probable rupture of well-established social networks that we “see” archaeologically. Did the cave painting that some groups engaged in “stop” when many of their animal “subjects” disappeared from their landscapes? Did the mobility and connectivities among the groups come undone in ways that made their adaptations to change less successful, as has been shown by archaeologists for human groups in more recent times?

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