Introduction:

The Quaternary period is the modern-day time period that we
live in today, it spans 2.58 million years. There are fossils and other records
that were preserved, such as animals, plant, sediments and human remain. Lake
sediments, peat bogs and fossilised remains are an extremely helpful way for
scientists to reconstruct climate and environment change and human activities
and give an insight into what the world was like in the past. This is possible
because peat bogs and lake sediments can preserve bodies and store sediments
that have large amounts of useful information in specific conditions about past
eras for large amounts of time if they have the correct conditions, which modern
day scientists can then analyse using specialist equipment and techniques such
as radiocarbon dating which involves studying the isotope in carbon 14 to make assumptions
on the previous conditions and human activity that occurred during the quaternary
period. This is shown in examples such as the Lindow man who was found in a
peat bog, analysis allowed scientists to estimate cause of death, lifestyle, the
environment he lived in and people have drawn accurate images using his
predicted appearance. Most of these examples found in Peat bogs were believed
to of come around 8000 years ago although some are believed to have come from as
far back as the stone age. Lakes in addition store sediments brought down from
mountainous areas by rivers thousands of years ago.

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Peat Bogs:

Peat bogs a wet areas of land where soil and plants are only
semi decomposed, peat bogs can store fossilised remains of bodies, as well as
sediments under the correct conditions, these conditions are very specific,
they require a PH of 3.5, in anaerobic conditions meaning that there is a lack
of oxygen, the body needs to start preservation in winter conditions so that
temperatures are as low as possible finally the peat bog must be a shallow
amount of water however deep enough that the whole body would be fully submerged
in the Peat bog. These conditions allow Peat bodies to preserve bodies and
allow them to become naturally mummified, as firstly the lack of oxygen and the
rather acidic pH means that the conditions are not suitable for organisms that
cause decay in dead bodies such as bacteria which require a neutral pH and an
aerobic environment. Furthermore, the anaerobic features of peat bogs mean that
they have the ability to conserve hair, clothing and certain leather items. In
addition to this the cold conditions are required so that bacteria are unable
to grow as they need warmer temperatures in order to multiply and cause decay. Lastly
sugar and Peat assist in preserving by surrounding the body keeping the tissue,
resisting water and any oxygenation. Scientists will then use methods such as radiocarbon
dating to analysis the preserved body. Radiocarbon dating is the analysis of
the radioactive isotope carbon 14, which at death the body begins to stop
producing using these scientists can work out time of death as a lack of carbon
14 suggests an older body. Due to these conditions a unique feature of peat bogs
is bog bodies which can give an excellent source on diet and surrounding environment.
The most well-known example of this especially in the UK is the Lindow man who
was discovered in Cheshire and was mistaken for a modern murder because it was
so well preserved, parts of him were found at different times among the bog
however the left foot has never been discovered. By additionally using other
techniques such as pollen analysis the peat can be analysis to identify
climatic conditions at the time the Lindow man died, pollen grain found on the
Lindow man are pollen from cereal grain which would suggest that around 8000
years ago, there was strong activity in the form of agriculture. This is strong
evidence as the pollen was found further down on the Lindow Mans body meaning
it was more likely to be stuck to him closer to his death. The pollen found on
the Lindow man also suggests a decrease in the number of larger trees as time
passed this could be due to a climatic change or increased human activity with
the building of houses and other buildings, materials for fires and other equipment
such as weapons or for space for agriculture for food.

Lake Sediment:

Lake sediments are another naturally preserved object that
scientists can analysis in order to reconstruct climate, environmental
conditions and human activities that occurred during the quaternary period. This
are formed due to materials getting deposited in the lake over vast quantities
of time, these layers build up on top of each other at the bed of the lake and
if collected can give significant information on the conditions in different
eras throughout the Quaternary period due to fact that on different layers there
would be different quantities or different materials. To access the sediment at
the lake bed they must remove it they do this by drilling into the lakes bed and
collect small samples with the layers left in the same order intact as they are
removed. A way that scientists analyse the lake sediment is by looking into
diatoms which are a type of algae