5.4.3 Establishing the Mesolithic chronology: A programme of radiocarbon dating and Bayesian analysis: testing the 8.2 Ka model and reaching out to the Neolithic

The chronological development of the Mesolithic as described in this contribution is based on a sample of a mere 163 radiocarbon dates (selected as those considered reliable from a total sample available of 253 dates). This is far too small a number with which to confidently establish the chronology of settlement over a period of at least 6000 years. As such, the pattern identified by Wicks and Mithen (2014), and especially their proposal of the impact of the 8.2 Ka event, should be considered as hypotheses requiring further testing. There is already a large quantity of well-sourced material suitable for radiocarbon dating from Mesolithic sites, while small scale targeted excavation could produce further samples from localities, especially those that appear under-represented. Securing an additional 100 AMS dates, subjecting these to Bayesian analysis and establishing activity event on a site-by-site base and for the region as a whole will enable the 8.2 Ka hypothesis to be tested and provide a secure chronological foundation for the earliest prehistory of Argyll. As noted above, it is perhaps even more important to develop an enhanced understanding of the Early Neolithic chronology, and to create a single integrated model for the Early Prehistory of Argyll.