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Geoscientist Online

Submerged Landscapes of the European Continental Shelf: Quaternary Palaeoenvironments

vbhjk,This volume is the product of a European-wide research collaboration named SPLASHCOS, ‘Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology and Landscapes of the Continental Shelf’, financially supported by the Co-operation in Science and Technology office in Brussels. Over 100 researchers from 25 European countries contributed to the project, 65 of whom are credited with having contributed to this present volume. ‘Submerged Landscapes of the European Continental Shelf’ is the first volume to be published by the SPLASHCOS initiative. A second volume, entitled ‘Archaeological Data and Interpretations’ is due to follow.

A central objective of the book is to answer the question of why some seafloor prehistoric evidence survives inundation by sea-level rise, when others are destroyed by wave action and currents. The book provides an analysis of general marine and coastal processes in early chapters, before dedicating the majority of the content to 14 chapters detailing the regional sea basins of Europe, summarising their geomorphology, oceanography, and examples of known archaeological sites.

These chapters do an excellent job of summarising a vast amount of data, originating from multiple disciplines. Although the exact content of each chapter varies, typically they adopt the following format.  

First, the Quaternary geology of each region is described in detail, aided by a considerable number of maps and profiles of sea-level change. Next, the effect of climatic conditions on human migration is considered. This is followed by a summary of submerged terrestrial landforms which may be associated with archaeological sites.

For example, within the North Sea chapter, this largely focuses upon the complex environment of the Dogger Bank. Finally, an assessment of the archaeological potential of each basin is given; this is based upon environmental factors and the distribution of known sites.

The volume is impressively well-referenced and up-to-date throughout. Data examples are largely extracted from existing articles, and complement the text well. The only negative of the need to source figures from various sources is a lack of consistent presentation. This lack of uniformity is also apparent in the writing style between chapters to some degree, an effect of the large number of contributors. However, this does not detract from the general flow of the book. Another minor comment would be on the absence of a concluding chapter, which would have aided the overall understanding of why some archaeological sites are preserved, but not others.

These points aside, overall this is an impressive volume, offering a useful reference to all those working or interested in the European continental shelves.

Reviewed by David Vaughan

SUBMERGED LANDSCAPES OF THE EUROPEAN CONTINENTAL SHELF: QUATERNARY PALAEOENVIRONMENTS, FIRST EDITION. Editors: FLEMMING, N C, HARFF, J, MOURA, D, BURGESS, A, BAILEY, G N, 2017. Published by: John Wiley & Sons 533pp (hbk)  ISBN: 9781118922132 List price: £80.00 W: https://www.wiley.com/en-gb/Submerged+Landscapes+of+the+European+Continental+Shelf%3A+Quaternary+Paleoenvironments-p-9781118927717