Environmental Archaeology

Published by Maney Publishing
Online ISSN: 1749-6314
Publications
Article
Palaeoenvironmental changes since the sixth millennium B.C. in northern Iran have been assessed through isotopic studies of archaeozoological remains from three prehistoric sites. Good quality collagen has been extracted from more than 40 bone samples from wild and domestic herbivores, boars, dogs and humans belonging to Zagheh (sixth-fifth millennium cal BC, Neolithic), Qabrestan (fourth-third millennium cal BC, Cha1colithic) and Sagzabad (second-first millennium cal BC, Iron Age). There is no clear trend in decreasing collagen content with increasing age. The carbon isotopic composition of herbivore collagen indicates mainly a consumption of C3-plants, with a significant amount of C4-plants in some individuals. The amount of consumed C4-plants is correlated to increasing δ15N, suggesting that C4-plants are linked to saline environments. The δ15N and δ13C of wild herbivores seem to decrease with decreasing age, suggesting wetter conditions in Iron Age than in Neolithic times. However, domestic herbivores do not exhibit any trend, maybe because environmental conditions linked to human activity are less variable than natural conditions. Differences in herding practices may explain isotopic differences between cattle and caprine.
 
Article
The taphonomy and chronological context of shell deposits excavated at the location of the deserted late medieval harbour town of Saltés (Atlantic Coast, Spain) were investigated. An interpretation of the depositional history of the deposits was made on the basis of radiocarbon dating and points to a multiple origin of the assemblages. Although the shell deposits are much older than the medieval site, the investigation showed that they still had an anthropogenic origin.
 
Article
This paper presents a brief review of archaeological evidence for the impact of the pre-Hispanic population on the environment of the Canary Islands. Prior to human colonisation, the archipelago was an untouched environment with high botanical and faunal biodiversity. The first human settlement can be traced to the early 1st millennium BC; this period of settlement finished at the end of the 15th century AD when the Spanish Crown conquered the archipelago. It has often been assumed that the pre-Hispanic population had little significant impact on the islands' ecosystems. However, abundant evidence for faunal extinctions, deforestation and soil erosion has been recovered from archaeological sites across the islands. This indicates that pre-Hispanic colonisers introduced cultivated plants, opened up the forests to create fields and cut woody vegetation for fuel. They also introduced domestic animals and alien predators resulting in a major depletion of native fauna.
 
Article
During the excavation of a 16th-century vessel at Biddinghuizen in the Netherlands, barrels containing the remains of thousands of herring were found. The skeletal element distribution made it clear that these fish had been preserved by means of gutting. The large amount of material, combined with the differences in the size and composition of the samples taken allowed the complex to serve as a good reference framework for the variability in the occurrence of preserved herring of this type. The method, described by Seeman (1986), of identifying gutted herring on the basis of archaeological material has been extended to include more diagnostic skeletal elements, criteria for sample sizes and requirements concerning the elements that must be present in a sample to obtain reliable conclusions.
 
Article
This paper describes the use of palm nuts for the manufacture of artefacts in the Netherlands. From the 17th to 19th century buttons were made of nuts of the Brazilian palm tree Attalea cf. funifera. Finds from 17th century shipwrecks suggest that the palm nuts of this species were directly imported from Middle or South America. Coconuts were used for carving, for example for the manufacture of coconut beakers. In the 19th century buttons were also made of 'vegetable ivory' or tagua nut.
 
Article
As part of a multidisciplinary investigation of post-medieval Icelandic land and plant use practices, archaeobotanical samples were collected from Reykholt, west Iceland in 1988 and 1989. Analyses included plant macrofossils (seeds and leaves) and wood identification from excavated rooms in a 17th century farm house. In conjunction with earlier palaeoentomological studies, the functions of three different excavated rooms are inferred. Archaeobotanical results suggest that the farm was a prosperous one, with imported foodstuffs and wood implements from continental Europe.
 
Article
In this study, a variety of postcranial skeletal measurements of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus L.) are used to predict the body mass. Regression equations for estimating the body weight of females as well as correction factors for estimating the weight of males are generated. These are applied to archaeological reindeer bones from 17th- and 18th-century Northern Finland. Predicted weights of archaeological reindeer correspond well with the weight of modern reindeer. Sexual dimorphism, however, caused problems in this analysis, since the criteria used for sex assessment affect the body weight prediction and thus the results of inter-assemblage comparisons.
 
Article
An assemblage of horn cores from Bedford was analysed in comparison to similar archaeological material from other sites in the country. The assemblage is broken down into improved and unimproved cattle stock, with particular emphasis on a feature identified as a horner's pit.
 
Article
Charcoal records were examined from seven sediment cores and two stratigraphic sections on southern Vancouver Island, Canada. Charcoal influx and climate trend regressions were established using high order polynomial functions. During the late-glacial (ca. 13,000–10,000 ybp), variations in the charcoal record suggest that fires likely responded to changes in fuel availability and climate. The high incidence of early-Holocene (ca. 10,000–7,000ybp) fires may have been partly modified by human activity, though it seems more likely that climate exerted the greatest control. A decrease in fires during the mid- and early late-Holocene from 7,000–4,000 and 4,000–2,000 ybp respectively is consistent with a regional moistening trend, implying that fires were climatically limited. In the late late-Holocene from 2,000 ybp–present, several sites record an increase in charcoal influx even though climate was continuing to moisten and cool, suggesting that non-climatic factors were responsible for the observed increase in fire activity. Estimates of native populations range up to thousands of people for southern Vancouver Island before the arrival of Europeans. These people were knowledgeable of fire, suggesting that humans were responsible for the increase in fires during the late late-Holocene cool, moist interval.
 
Article
Bones from eleventh and twelfth century layers of Valkenburg castle in the Netherlands show a context of nobility with, among other things, a small but clear component of game and the indication of falconry. The remains of rabbits found at this site appeared to be a logical link in the distribution history of this species. This paper corrects the dating of these bones. The introduction of the rabbit to the Low Countries is discussed on the basis of historical and archaeological information.
 
Article
Bone fragments are often difficult to determine in archaeozoology. A new approach has been adopted to explore the extent to which qualitative histology allows horses and cattle to be distinguished. Since bone structure can differ even within a single bone, restrictions in terms of species, bone category and bone part were deemed necessary for the development of a practicable identification method for archaeological bone. To broaden our understanding of variations in the diaphyseal bone structure within and between the two species, a reference series has been compiled, comprising long bones from several individual horse and cattle specimens. While no difference in bone structure types or combinations of types could be observed in the reference series, the composition of the fibro-lamellar bone structure did reveal a distinction between horses and cattle. In some regions of the thin sections both species showed components of equal thickness. However, this was always found in combination with a clear dominance of either the lamellar or fibrous component. The fibrous component predominated in cattle, and, with one exception, the lamellar component was predominant in horses. The study was concluded with two blind tests on archaeological bone fragments to test the applicability of the method.
 
Article
Considerable changes are observed in the abundance of cultivated plants in the northern Alpine foreland between 3500 and 2400 cal. BC. The importance of tetraploid naked wheat (Triticum durum Desf./turgidum L.) and opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) declines whereas that of glume wheat (mainly emmer, Triticum dicoccum Schübl.) and flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) increases progressively. The hypothesis presented here is that these developments are mainly due to changing cultural spheres of influence. Many of these changes are, however, not fully traceable due to the very heterogeneous and, in part, very poor state of research in this area.
 
Article
The Association for Environmental Archaeology can look back on 25 years of bringing together people working in environmental archaeology and related subjects. During this time, more that 400 international members have joined the Association, profiting from its platform of meetings and conferences, its regular newsletter and, more recently, its internet website and, perhaps most important of all, access to its peer- reviewed journal - Environmental Archaeology .I n a European context, this journal is outstanding because it offers the opportunity to present the results of broad interdisciplinary archaeological research. In doing so it caters for a trend in environmental archaeological research in the course of the last 25 years that is amply illustrated by this volume — namely a movement away from isolated pieces of scientific study towards broadly integrated and interdependent research programmes. The articles in the present volume (and two articles in the forthcoming volume 11.2) are based on lectures and posters presented to the jubilee conference held at Bad Buchau in September 2004. The contributions illustrate a diverse and multidisciplinary approach to studies of the interrelation between, and changes in, the economy and environment during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. It was a great honour for the Federseemuseum Bad Buchau, the Landesdenkmalamt Baden-Wurttemberg and the National Museum of Denmark to organise this jubilee conference in Bad Buchau, attended by 70 participants from 11 European countries. The year
 
Article
The results of 46 archaeobotanical samples from the site 'Siedlung Torwiesen II' in the Federseereed, Stadt Bad Buchau, Kreis Biberach are presented here. The dendrochronological datings of the piles from this settlement of the Horgener culture are (placed) between 3293 and 3281 BC. The samples were taken from the refuse areas under or beside of the house forecourts or the entrance areas of the houses. As main crops naked barley (Hordeum vulgare L.ssp. nudum) and a tetraploid naked wheat species Triticum durum Desf./turgidum L.) were found. Emmer (Triticum dicoccon Schübl.) was rarely detected. Further crops were flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) and poppy (Papaver somniferum L.). The spectrum of the cultivated plants show a clear cultural connection with the regions further south, as the Lake Constance and Switzerland. Huge amounts of flax remains suppose that settlements at the lake Federsee were specialised on flax production already during the Late Neolithic period.Aus der dendrochronologisch auf 3293–3281 BC datierten und damit der frühen Horgener Kultur zuzuordnenden Siedlung Torwiesen II im Federseeried, Stadt Bad Buchau, Kreis Biberach konnten 46 Einzelproben archäobotanisch untersucht werden. Die Proben stammen aus Abfallzonen unterhalb oder seitlich der Hausvorplätze oder Hauseingangsbereiche. Hauptgetreide sind Nacktgerste (Hordeum vulgare ssp. nudum) und ein tetraploider Nachtweizen (Triticum durum vel turgidum). Emmer (Triticum dicoccon) ist selten. Weitere Kulturpflanzen sind Lein (Linum usitatissimum) und Schlafmohn (Papaver somniferum). Hervorzuheben ist eine durch die Anbaupflanzen nachweisbare kulturelle Verknüpfung zu weiter südlich gelegenen Siedlungen am deutschen Bodenseeufer und in der Schweiz. Die große Menge an Leinresten aus endneolithischen Siedlungen am Federsee, lässt eine Spezialisierung auf Leinanbau vermuten.
 
Article
A review of the available archaeological and palaeoecological evidence from the coastal heathlands of south-western Norway was compiled to reveal the processes of neolithisation proceeding from the Early Neolithic towards the generally accepted breakthrough in the Late Neolithic, 2500/2350 cal. BC. South-western Norway then became part of the Scandinavian, and thus the European, agricultural complex. Three phases of forest clearance are recorded — from 4000–3600 cal. BC, 2500–2200 cal. BC and 1900–1400 cal. BC. Deforestation was intentional and followed a regional pattern linked to the geology and topography of the land. In the first period (4000–2500 cal. BC), forage from broad-leaved trees was important, while cereal cultivation was scarcely recorded. Agro-Neolithic (here referring to agriculturally-related Neolithic) artefacts and eco-facts belonging to the Funnel Beaker and Battle Axe culture are rare, but pervasive. They must primarily be considered to be status indicators with a ritual function; the hunter-gatherer economy still dominated. The breakthrough in agro-pastoral production in the Late Neolithic was complex and the result of interactions between several variables, i.e. a) deforestation resulting from agriculture being practised for nearly 1500 years b) experience with small-scale agriculture through generations and c) intensified exchange systems with other South Scandinavian regions. From 2500/2350 cal. BC onwards, two distinct environmental courses are noticeable in all pollen diagrams from the study area, indicating expansion in pastoralism, either towards heath or towards grassland and permanent fields.
 
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a 
Article
This paper reviews the interdisciplinary projects carried out during the last 25 years in eastern Liguria (NW Italy). These have brought together archaeologists, geographers, palaeobotanists and historians in a series of research exercises based upon many different types of evidence: archaeological excavation and survey, ecological analysis of existing landscapes, geoarchaeological, anthracological and palynological analyses. Taken together, the results of this research provide a rich source of material for developing an understanding of how humans in eastern Liguria have interacted with the landscape through time. The influence of human activity on the vegetation of Liguria, in the Late Neolithic, Copper Age (Chalcolithic) and Bronze Age, is part of a complex system of agricultural activity mainly involving transhumant pastoralism. Several peat sites and buried soils have supplied the palaeoecological data that indicate the considerable effect of this economic activity on the landscape: a reduction in fir woodland, a decrease in arboreal species and an increase in the diversity of light demanding herbaceous and fern taxa. The environmental and economic changes during the 4th and 3rd millennia BC in eastern Liguria are also testified to by the starting of quarrying and mining activities to obtain both red jasper and copper.
 
Mean values for the number of identifiable bones at Neolithic waterlogged sites in the western and the eastern part of the Swiss Alpine foreland. West 5 sites from the western and central part of the Swiss Alpine foreland. East 5 sites from the eastern part of the Swiss Alpine foreland
Article
The economic and environmental data presented here are based on identifications of more than 275000 animal bones from 126 Neolithic lake shore settlements dated to between 4300 cal. BC and 2500 cal. BC. Due to the excellent state of preservation of all organic material and the consequent precise dating, mostly by dendrochronology, only results from lake shore sites in the Swiss alpine foreland and the area of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) have been considered. Marked fluctuations in the importance of game animals can be recognised throughout the Neolithic lake dwelling period. These fluctuations coincide with climatically induced economic crises which, because of starvation, forced people to intensify hunting and gathering. Looking at the relative importance of the different domestic animals we notice chronologically and geographically influenced differences more than the effects of climatic factors. These differences are mainly due to the environmental evolution resulting from human impact. However, cultural factors may also have had an impact. A comparison of archaeozoological data from the Neolithic lake dwelling sites dated to between 4300 and 2500 cal. BC in the northern Alpine foreland shows a very complicated mosaic of factors influencing the economy of these sites. These include climatic conditions, the state of the environment, human impact and the topography, and all must be taken into account if an economic interpretation of a site, region or period is to be arrived at.
 
Article
The number of vegetables, herbs and spices that have been recovered from Greek archaeological contexts (dated between 900 and 400 B.C.) allow a discussion of the status of these plants. Although not all plants are preserved equally well or recovered systematically, it is clear that a variety of vegetables, herbs and spices was known and widely used in antiquity. Literary references to these species need to be studied with reference to their archaeobotanical evidence. This paper summarises the data currently known for the remains of vegetables, herbs and spices, retrieved from historical contexts, together with literary evidence (when it is available).
 
Article
The rock shelter of Moche Borago in Wolayta Province, South-west Ethiopia, has provided evidence of human occupation during part of the Holocene. Recovery of more than 30,000 animal bones has allowed reconstruction of the exploitation of animals by humans from the 4th millennium BC until the first half of the 1st millennium AD. It could be demonstrated that humans exploited (mainly for food) a great diversity of mammals, especially bovids, and that there were very few diachronic changes observed in the fauna during the occupation. Remains of domestic animals have not been found, even in the most recent part of this period, suggesting that animal husbandry was a late introduction into this mountainous and isolated part of Ethiopia. The human inhabitants of the shelter appear to have exploited the surrounding environment, using its favourable position at the end of a stepped valley for mass killing of African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer). The rich and diverse environments of Wolayta favoured the development of a specialised society that mastered the exploitation of wild animals throughout much of the Holocene.
 
Article
This paper presents the results of charcoal analyses from two waterlogged sites located at Lake Clairvaux in the French Jura and dated to the period between 3700–3500 BC. The economy of firewood intended for domestic use was characterised in accordance with the spatial organisation of the sites on the lakeshore, the economic context and the environment. Because gathering modes mainly depend on the available biomass and resource proximity, charcoal spectra are representative of the exploited woodland. However, as firewood gathering is a major and vital activity, the Neolithic societies established a firewood economy closely linked to their social organisation and way of life and to the environment.
 
Article
This paper presents an osteomorphological survey of evidence for draught utilisation of cattle in the South Scandinavian TRB culture. The investigations focus on morphological changes in the lower limb bones of domestic cattle from a large number of archaeological sites and from several individual cattle skeletons found in bogs. The osteological results are discussed in the context of other lines of evidence, both archaeological and environmental, and one of the main themes of this discussion is the relationship between the adoption of animal traction and developments in land use. Furthermore, developments in the economic complex of the South Scandinavian TRB culture are compared with certain trends further south in Europe.
 
Article
Antikythera is a small, relatively remote Mediterranean island, lying 35 km north-west of Crete, and its few contemporary inhabitants live mainly in the small village at the only port. However, an extensive network of terraces across the island bears witness to the past importance of farming on the island, although the intensity of use of these cultivated plots has changed according to fluctuating population levels. Most recently, the rural population and intensity of cultivation have dramatically declined. Our aim is to understand the recolonisation process of agricultural land by plants after terraces are no longer used for the cultivation of crops. The results demonstrate a relatively quick pace of vegetative recolonisation, with abandoned farm land covered by dense scrub within 20 to 60 years. The archaeological implications are that, following even relatively short periods of abandonment, the landscape would have required arduous reinvestment in the removal of scrub growth, as well as the repair and construction of stone terraces, to allow cultivation once again.
 
Article
A database of animal bone measurements, the Animal Bone Metrical Archive Project (ABMAP), is now available on the Web at http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/specColl/abmap. The measurements can be downloaded and imported into a spreadsheet. They are of bones of domestic animals from the Neolithic to the 19th century AD from assemblages in England, most from southern England. An example is given of the retrieval of measurements of cattle metacarpals and their application in a scatter diagram. The database is a resource for zooarchaeologists and others concerned with research into prehistoric and early historic domestic livestock and animal husbandry.
 
Article
The episodic periods of climate change between the end of the Pleistocene and the Early Holocene had significant effects on vegetation in the Levant. The three Late Epipalaeolithic phases at Tell Abu Hureyra (c. 13·1 kya cal. BP to 12·0 kya cal. BP) span the onset of the Younger Dryas when there was a reversion to cold and dry conditions from the preceding warmer/wetter Bølling-Allerød interstadial. The deterioration of the climate is argued to have caused a recession of Mediterranean woodland from the immediate environs of the site and thus the habitats of many of the edible large-seeded annual plants became less accessible. Changes in the taxonomic composition of the archaeobotanical samples from the three Late Epipalaeolithic phases were interpreted by the original analyst as reflecting diet change in response to a reduction in resource availability, with the inception of cultivation of wild cereals and large-seeded legumes to maintain yields of these high-ranked species. In this reassessment of the data we propose an alternative model and demonstrate that the changes in plant exploitation strategies at Abu Hureyra, which coincide with the onset of the Younger Dryas, can be more parsimoniously interpreted as representing a broadening of the plant diet to compensate for a loss in availability of higher-ranked species.
 
Article
Molluscan total assemblages across a woodland-grassland boundary are described and analysed using a variety of numerical techniques. These demonstrate that although the Mollusca respond to the vegetation boundaries their response does not exactly parallel that of vegetation structure. In particular, some shade-preferential species have encroached from woodland into adjacent grassland, degree of encroachment being an individual species characteristic. The study indicates that the detection of boundaries in sub-fossil assemblages from buried soil surfaces will only be possible if spatially-oriented multi-sampling strategies are employed.
 
Article
An examination of how and why Channel Island society adopted agriculture is aided in this paper by an island-based approach, which stresses the social and environmental implications of island life. This paper proposes a two-stage model of neolithisation of indigenous island hunter-gathers, beginning with a phase of cooperative interaction between forager and farmer in the early stages of the transition, followed by a later phase of direct competition for island resources. A rapid shift from cooperative to competitive interaction is proposed, amplified by constraints of island biogeography, sea-level change and insularity. Islanders were 'pulled' toward a Neolithic world view through increased exchange, while environmental conditions and limitations on the islands 'pushed' indigenous island hunter-gatherers to adopt agriculture.
 
Article
During salvage excavations of an Aboriginal shell midden at Hollywell, on the Gold Coast of Queensland, ant activity was noted as a contributor to both bioturbation, and to the introduction of modern material, including metal fragments, plastic, nylon fishing line and cotton thread into the deposit. This material was found at depths of up to 400 mm and adjacent to excavation units with shells with a calibrated age of 1050–900 BP. These observations prompted the development of a small experiment to illustrate the impact that one species of common Australian ant observed on site, the green-head ant (Rhytidoponera metallica), can have on cultural material in sandy deposits.
 
Article
As part of the long-term archaeological project being conducted at Tell e-Sâfi/Gath in the semi-arid foothills of the Judean Mountains, a first order dry stream channel located in a valley east of the main site was surveyed and soil pits excavated in selected locations. A ditch, 10 m in length, was dug perpendicular to one of the agricultural terraces, showing that the small valley is filled with soil to a depth of more than 3 m above bedrock. The fill dates mainly to the Byzantine period (ca. 4th-7th cent. CE), according to the ceramic sherds. Three check-dam walls and related terraces were found across the width of the valley. Surprisingly, the base of the check-dam does not go deeper than 50 em into the uppermost part of the fill, well above bedrock or gravel layers, while covering only the upper part of the terrace step. Thus we use the term “floating terrace wall” or “floating check-dams”. Each of the terrace walls is about 0.5 m high and 50 m long. The valley is bound by two slopes: (1) a northeast facing slope characterized by Nari outcrops (a hard calcrete crust in the upper part of the chalk bedrock) and soil pockets, and (2) a southwest facing slope without Nari. The source of most valley fill material is apparently from the slope without Nari. The valley shows comparatively little accumulation during the Iron Age and very much accumulation during the Byzantine period. The main cause seems to be human-made earth movement and terrace building during the Byzantine period, rather than passive erosion and accumulation as a result of general environmental pressure by human activity.
 
Article
The paper examines the two existing models for identifying arable 'producers' and' consumers' using archaeobotanical data from sites in southern England. Both models attribute variation between charred assemblages to the role of sites as primary arable producers or those receiving harvested crops. The testing of the models demonstrated that many charred archaeobotanical samples rather than relating to single specific processing activities can be attributed more generally to the waste generated from the routine processing of crops taken from storage throughout the year. The identifiable processing stages seen from most samples composition then represent only those stages conducted after storage. Variation between site assemblages can therefore be attributed to different amounts of processing carried out after harvest before crops were put into storage rather than distinguishing between sites that grew crops and those that did not. As harvesting and processing prior to storage are labour demanding, charred assemblages have the potential to reveal differences within the social organisation of past farming communities. Two patterns were distinguished: one where the organisation of agricultural labour appeared to be conducted at a household level, the second where larger scale or communal organisation appeared to be present.
 
Article
This paper considers approaches to the study of Early Medieval crannogs in Ireland, focussing particularly on social and agricultural issues. The architecture of crannogs suggests an act of isolation, perhaps representing an Early Medieval ideology, while their material assemblages demonstrate that people in their practical lives would have depended on others to varying extents. Previously held hypotheses concerning the association of crannogs exclusively with higher-status social groups are challenged in this paper. The perceived dominance of animal husbandry in many archaeological texts is also questioned. The diverse roles of arable agricultural products in Early Medieval society are then explored, with the use of contemporary documentary sources, in order to investigate issues beyond economic concerns. Our excavation of a crannog at Sroove in Lough Cara, Co. Sligo, provides a case study with which we can reconsider approaches to the study of crannogs in Ireland.
 
Article
Sediment cores from two small lakes, Alvevatn and Hanalandstjønn, both situated in the coastal heathland in Jceren, south-western Norway, were investigated with respect to microfossil analyses of pollen, spores and charcoal. The two lakes are situated close to prehistoric sites and monuments ranging in time from the Mesolithic to the Medieval Age. The microfossil analyses clearly reflect abrupt deforestation from closed mixed deciduous forest to heathland at approximately 3800 BP (ca. 2500–2200 cal BC). This event coincides with the generally accepted introduction of an agro-pastoral economy in the area at the Middle Neolithic II/Early Late Neolithic transition (MN II/ELN). However, at both localities, weak signals of agrarian impact are traced earlier by palynology. In recent years conclusions based on weak palynological signals have been criticised severely. In this investigation the tenability of the palynological method has been tested by applying independent methods to sediments from the same cores, viz. mineral magnetic and carbon analyses, which are likely to be proxy records for anthropogenic activity. The close agreement between the different methods support the conclusion that an agrarian economy was introduced prior to 4300 BP in the coastal heathland in Jæren.
 
Article
Evidence for the introduction of agriculture in western Norway is presented, using three categories of data: (1) palaeobotanical data, including pollen diagrams from lakes, bogs and archaeological sites, focusing on the presence of cereals, Plantago lanceolata L. and anthropogenic pollen indicators, and charred macro remains of cereals from archaeological sites; (2) osteological data, focusing on the occurrences of bones of cattle, sheep and goats in three rock-shelters, and the bone material from one open-air Neolithic site; (3) archaeological data, including artefacts indicating agricultural practices, distribution of residential settlement sites, and stray finds. The evidence for agricultural activity at the beginning of the fourth millennium BC (Early Neolithic, EN) is low, whereas the presence of both cereals and animal husbandry is indicated in the palaeobotanical material from the Middle Neolithic A (MNA, 3400–2600 cal. BC). The earliest record of domesticated animal bones is dated to the Middle Neolithic B (MNB, 2600–2200 cal. BC), while palynological and archaeological data also indicate an expansion in the area cultivated by early farmers. All data confirm the establishment of an agrarian society and animal husbandry in the Late Neolithic (LN, 2200–1700 cal. BC). It is concluded that agriculture was introduced into western Norway by the indigenous hunter-fisher populations. During this process, social and ideological factors played principal roles.
 
Article
The origin of agriculture in numerous independent regions soon after the last glacial period points to a global limitation for domestication. One hypothesis proposes that the post-glacial rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration from 180 to 270 ppm increased the productivity of wild crop progenitors, thereby removing a barrier to domestication. However, the inclusion of C4 crops among the earliest domesticates challenges this hypothesis, because these species possess a carbon-concentrating mechanism that is expected to offset CO2 limitation. We used an experimental approach to test this aspect of the hypothesis, finding that an increase in CO2 from glacial to post-glacial levels caused significant gains in vegetative biomass in wild modern representatives of C3 and C4 cereals. Investigation into the underlying mechanisms showed photosynthesis to be limited by CO2 at glacial levels in both types. More significantly, for the C4 species, transpiration rates were reduced, leading to indirect benefits for photosynthesis when water was limited. Finally, higher CO2 levels stimulated yield by 50% in C3 species and 10–15% in C4 species. The data provide experimental support for the CO2-limitation hypothesis, showing that atmospheric conditions of the last glaciation would have placed direct and indirect restrictions on the productivity of crop progenitors.
 
Article
This article provides a compendium of quotations from early British writers on agriculture which may be of interest to the zoo-archaeology of late Medieval and post-Medieval periods.
 
Article
This paper presents archaeobotanical studies from the Danish regions of Thy, northern Schleswig and Djursland. The data are discussed in the light of developments in the landscape and in house architecture; comparisons are made with the contemporary situation in southern Sweden. Pollen analysis reveals that Thy was more or less treeless by the end of the Neolithic, whereas Djursland maintained its forests for a further 1500 years; the situation in northern Schleswig lies somewhere in between. Developments in house architecture are very similar in the three areas. The shift from two-aisled to three-aisled houses occurred in period I/II of the Bronze Age and phosphate analyses suggest that the earliest Danish byre dates from the beginning of period II. Crop plant assemblages are dominated by naked barley and emmer and remain remarkably stable from the Single Grave Culture to the Late Bronze Age in Thy, from the Middle Neolithic to the middle of the Bronze Age in northern Schleswig, and from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age on Djursland. Other crops come and go – einkorn, bread wheat, spelt, millet, flax, oats and gold of pleasure. Hulled barley is largely conspicuous by its absence. Well-developed arable weed floras appear first in the Early Bronze Age – arable weeds are very scarce at Neolithic sites. There is evidence of improvement of arable soils using fen peat and household refuse and manure. The situation appears somewhat more complex in Denmark than that described for Sweden. The most striking difference is seen in the behaviour of hulled barley, which becomes massively dominant in Sweden in the course of the Bronze Age, whereas its role in Denmark is much more modest.
 
Article
During the Late Stone Age, the sites of Ajvide and Jettböle were located on the seashore but in quite different marine environments. Ajvide on Gotland had direct access to the open sea of the central Baltic, while Jettböle in the Åland archipelago was surrounded by islands and skerries in the northern part of the Baltic Sea. Continuous excavations at Ajvide revealed large amounts of Cod (Gadus morhua) while herring (Clupea harengus) was found in small numbers. At Jettböle, as well, cod bones have been observed in large numbers while the skeletal remains of herring were few. In this study, soil samples of fishbone materials from Ajvide and Jettböle were sieved through screens of different mesh-sizes and then osteologically analysed. The finer screens aided the recovery of small herring bones that usually are lost when sieving through a common standard mesh-size of 4 mm. The results of the study confirmed the importance of fine-mesh sieving for the retrieval of the fishbone materials. Additionally, the achieved osteometric data indicated a difference in cod and herring size between the sites. Other factors that form our base for the understanding of Neolithic fishing strategies are: a general knowledge of the behaviour of the retrieved fish species, a reconstruction of the ancient marine environment and the abundance of fish species at each site.
 
Article
Excavations in 1990 in North-West Iceland documented a stratified series of small turf structures and associated midden deposits at the eroding beach at Akurvík which date from the 11th–13th to the 15th–16th centuries AD. The site reflects a long series of small discontinuous occupations, probably associated with seasonal fishing. The shell sand matrix had allowed excellent organic preservation and an archaeofauna of over 100,000 identifiable fragments was recovered. The collections are dominated by fish, mainly Atlantic cod, but substantial amounts of whale bone suggest extensive exploitation of strandings or active whaling. This paper briefly summarizes the excavation results, presents a zooarchaeological analysis of the two largest radiocarbon dated contexts, and places the Akurvík collections in the wider context of intra-Icelandic and inter-regional trade in preserved fish. Analysis of the Akurvík collection and comparison with other Icelandic collections from both inland and coastal sites dating from 9th to 19th centuries AD both reinforces evidence for an early, pre-Hanseatic internal Icelandic fish trade and supports historical documentation of Icelandic participation in the growing international fish trade of the late Middle Ages.
 
Article
This study represents the first detailed published analysis of a relatively large archaeologically derived faunal assemblage in eastern Beringia for the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene. The faunal remains, dated to 10,100 cal. BP, are well preserved and have highly resolved spatial association with lithics and hearth features. Factors in the formation of the assemblage are assessed through analyses of weathering, presence/absence of carnivore damage, fragmentation patterns, bone density, and economic utility. Taphonomic analyses indicate that human transport and processing decisions were the major agents responsible for assemblage formation. A spatial model of wapiti and bison carcass processing at this site is proposed detailing faunal trajectories from the kill sites, introduction on site in a central staging area to peripheral marrow extraction areas associated with hearths and lithic items. Data from mortality profiles, spatial analysis, and economic analysis are used to interpret general economy and site function within this period in Interior Alaska. These data and intersite comparisons demonstrate that considerable economic variability existed during the Early Holocene, from broad spectrum foraging to efficient, specialized terrestrial large mammal hunting.
 
Article
Interactions between people and the environment have resulted in constant changes in relief and soil conditions since the Neolithic. Soil transport and degradation had considerable effects on human land use. Extensive field investigations (excavations, auger sampling), measurements (e.g. texture, pH-value, Corg, N), datings (14C, pottery), together with extensive literature searches in different scientific disciplines (archaeology, palaeoecology, palaeoclimatology etc.), made it possible to reconstruct the Holocene landscape development in four study areas along the valley of the Gieselau near Albersdorf (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany). Stratigraphies were established in the study areas. This paper describes landscape developments around Albersdorf and in northern Central Europe during the Late Mesolithic and Neolithic. The compiled data for the landscape and land-use history serve as a basis for the design of the extensive Archaeological-Ecological Centre Albersdorf (AÖZA) — occupying a site of approximately 40 hectares — using reconstructed features from the Neolithic landscapes.
 
Article
A domestic donkey (Equus asinus) partial skeleton has been recovered from a mid-late Anglo-Saxon alluvial deposit situated below the present Westminster School at Deans Yard, Westminster, London. The remains have been radiocarbon dated to the 8th-9th century AD and, therefore, pre-date both the abbey of Edward the Confessor and the earlier foundation of St Dunstan. The skeleton is of particular importance as it is the only well dated specimen of its species recovered thus far in England from the Anglo-Saxon and Medieval periods.
 
Article
This paper sets out the results of the last phase of the hydrological monitoring programme conducted at the Hanson Over quarry in Cambridgeshire, during the first full year (March 2004 to March 2005) in which the area of the first phase of gravel extraction was reinstated as reed beds under the management of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It follows on from the studies of the pre-extraction and extraction phases, both published previously in Environmental Archaeology (French et al. 1999; French 2004). It is reassuring to report that the groundwater table in the formerly quarried area and the landscape immediately upstream and downstream has ostensibly been restored to pre-extraction levels, along with a return to previous pH, conductivity, redox and dissolved oxygen values in the groundwater system. Significantly, the continuing gradual fall in groundwater levels observed beyond 500 m from the quarry face for a distance of at least 1·5 km was seen to be arrested, although these had not quite recovered to pre-extraction levels downstream to the northeast. In addition, the soil moisture within the alluvial overburden and the buried palaeosol has also almost returned to pre-extraction levels. This indicates that the clay bunding of the formerly quarried areas acts as an effective barrier against further water abstraction, both inside and outside the sealed area, and allows the natural aquifer to begin to return to its previous levels of influence.The study dramatically indicates that both the mineral operator, drainage authority and archaeological curator need to collaborate from the outset of any quarrying operation to ensure the continuing maintenance of the groundwater and soil moisture system regardless of how well the combined gravel and water abstraction processes are conducted, and how successful the post-quarry conservation is. As every site's landscape dynamics contribute to its individual hydrological setting, each case is different and requires tailored monitoring programmes to protect the archaeological and palaeo-environmental record from the adverse effects of water abstraction associated with development schemes.
 
Article
A five year research project was set up to monitor soil moisture and groundwater levels of an extensive buried, mainly alluviated landscape located at the interface between the lower Great Ouse valley and the fen-edge in western Cambridgeshire. The intention was to monitor changes in hydrology, soil structure and geochemical status before, during and after large scale gravel extraction. The results presented here concern the pre-extraction monitoring period over three years. The project has identified three major landscape zones – shallowly buried former dryland, several sets of relict palaeochannel systems which still remain waterlogged, and a marginal zone between these where the monitored parameters fluctuate on a seasonal basis. The moisture levels of the alluvial overburden, buried soils and infills of the palaeochannel systems appear to act independently of each other, controlled by a combination of rainfall, agricultural land management, height above sea level and depth of burial. It is predicted that the removal of 1–3m of overburden accompanied by water abstraction when gravel extraction commences will lead to changes in the moisture regime of the immediate area and therefore of any contained archaeological contexts and the superficial sediments in this river valley/fen-edge landscape.
 
Article
This paper sets out the dramatic results of the hydrological monitoring programme conducted during the first 2.5 year phase of gravel extraction at the Hanson Over quarry in Cambridgeshire. It follows on from the study of the pre-extraction phase detailed in Environmental Archaeology 4 (French et al. 1999). Less than two months after the start of gravel extraction and pumping, the groundwater table within the extraction area had dropped to 5m+ below the modern ground surface and has since been maintained at that level. This is 3.5–4m lower than the norm in the pre-extraction phase, and has been accompanied by marked increases in pH and dissolved oxygen values. Specific monitoring of a Bronze Age barrow within the extraction area has demonstrated significant dewatering and lowering of soil moisture contents in the mound, ditch and buried soil to minimal levels within six months. Moreover, the groundwater table downstream and beyond the extraction area gradually dropped to between 2m and 5m below the modern ground surface, at a distance of up to 500m from the quarry face. Beyond this 'halo' effect, the hydrological regime is apparently unaffected. Nonetheless, once the southern edge of the extraction area was bunded with impermeable clay, there was a rapid (within the month) restoration of groundwater levels to the south/upstream of the extraction area. But, the groundwater table to the north/downstream of the extraction area has continued to fall over a distance of 500m from the quarry face. These results are of wide applicability to lowland English river terrace valleys. To ensure the future curation of alluviated landscapes that are threatened with water and gravel extraction, groundwater and water quality monitoring programmes should be part of the archaeological brief in response to Policy Planning Guidance 16 (DoE 1990).
 
Article
Contemporary literature suggests that meat and fish were not common fare of monastic communities in Egypt during the Late Antique Period (AD 330 to 642). A sizeable assemblage of fishbone from the Monastery at Kom el-Nana has allowed, in conjunction with other zooarchaeological material, a reappraisal of this assumption. In addition, comparative data from the adjacent Pharaonic site at Tell el-Amarna have highlighted distinct cultural differences in the utilisation of the mammal, bird and especially the fish remains between the sites. The difference in size of the catfish Synodontis schall demonstrates that in contrast to the ancient Egyptians the monks were targeting very small fish, most likely for salting in ceramic vessels.
 
Article
Five Coleoptera faunas recovered from modern non-cereal roofing thatches (potato stem, bracken, water reed, heather and gorse) were analysed to determine whether phytophage taxa contained in the thatch would correspond to the material used. The absence of matching phytophage species suggests that these insects would have limited potential to allow the identification of these types of roofing material in the archaeological record.
 
Article
This paper describes and discusses twigs of the dwarf shrub thorny burnet (Sarcopoterium spinosum L.) found in association with submerged remains of a Roman (4th century AD) shipwreck discovered off the Israeli Carmel coast. The twigs were recovered from within a crumpled lead container, interpreted as part of a bilge pump. The find demonstrates again that, under certain favourable circumstances, fragile botanical material can be preserved on ancient shipwreck sites. Similar twigs found previously in association with shipwrecks have been identified as dunnage, i.e. packing material intended to protect the cargo. In this particular case they were apparently used as a bilge pump filter. Thorny burnet grows profusely in the Eastern Mediterranean, but elsewhere only in a few isolated coastal areas most of which are in the vicinity of ancient ports. The wider implications of the past use of non-timber shrubs onboard ships is discussed, in particular, how this may have promoted colonisation by plants of areas beyond their natural distribution, and also how botanical material recovered from shipwrecks may help identify ancient sailing routes and ports of call.
 
Top-cited authors
Anne Tresset
  • Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
Joel Ughetto
  • French National Centre for Scientific Research
Jörg Schibler
  • University of Basel
Stefanie Jacomet
  • University of Basel
Xavier Terradas
  • Spanish National Research Council