First project webinar

In mid-November the project held its first meeting, albeit digitally, using online ‘webinar’ software. Despite a few technical issues, the meeting was a great success overall, lasting two hours in total.

A reasonable number of project members were able to take part, either using their microphones to talk directly, or the text chat function. These actually worked extremely well in combination, allowing others to comment unobtrusively while someone else was speaking.

After an introduction to the project given by Julien and Rebecca, we opened up discussion more broadly, asking what members were interested in from the project in terms of coverage, types of data etc. The themes evolved quite quickly towards some detailed considerations of the compatibility of different proxies for modelling mobility, and possible ways the project could be focused initially.

Some of the very interesting areas that were covered:

  • How we can improve mobility modelling using lithics (most commonly used for basic range estimates from a centripetal perspective to individual sites), by matching other proxies ?
  • The value of material objects will differ, therefore this needs to be considered if using for example lithics vs. shell as range markers, because they are likely to have been moved further when exchange is active
  • Can we produce range estimates for the fauna found at sites? Direct vs. estimate methods, i.e. isotopic tracking vs. biome/ecological mapping.
  • Wood / plants might be considered as a resource; they are potentially regions that will be preferentially targetted for movements; is it possible to model their occurrence, similar to geological areas for lithics?
  • Perhaps plant communities sourcing can also be linked with faunal sourcing
  • Mobility of the resources/proxies themselves needs to be considered: fauna naturally move, but water does not; wood and lithics become mobile through action of people

We also touched on some of the issues involved in multi-proxy work, and the aim of the project to build a resource useful to other researchers. Some important questions raised were whether some parameters should be targetted/prioritised for the datasets; and who will use the database. Additionally, practical first steps were considered in regard to identifying the best regions to focus on in terms of areas with high quality, temporally-deep, well-researched records that include multiple proxies. In particular, France was suggested as a good match for comparing lithics and fauna using strontium data.

It was clear that there is a great deal of enthusiasm for the project, and the webinar outcome was very positive for the upcoming meeting in Montreal in February, where participants will be able to pursue the topics covered more intensively within a workshop setting.

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