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The ancient lake Duvensee in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, is one of the prime locations in northern Europe for early Holocene research. Archaeological sites on the former lakeshore provide vivid illustrations of early Mesolithic life, with bark mats and other organic finds preserved, including evidence for the extensive use of hazelnuts. Although the area has been the subject of research for almost 100 years, a coherent summary of these discoveries has not yet been written. Here we review past research at Duvensee, and give some prospects for further research. We show that the Duvensee sites varied in their structure and chronology. While only a limited number of sites can be connected to hazelnut exploitation, some of them show signs of hafting and retooling and other domestic activities. At a few sites, specific hearths were excavated which can be connected with hazelnut roasting and other subsistence activities. Finally, we show that while most earlier studies focused almost exclusively on archaeological research questions, Duvensee has the potential to reveal not only transformations in human behaviour, but also environmental changes at a detailed scale; we therefore argue for a more holistic perspective and multidisciplinary approach to reconstructing prehistoric landscapes and cultural transformations.
To assess the regional multi-decadal to multi-centennial climate variability at the southern Iberian Peninsula during the mid- to late- Holocene transition multi-proxy records of two marine sediment cores were established for two sites in the Alboran Sea (ODP-161-976A) and the Gulf of Cadiz (GeoB5901-2). High-resolution records of organic geochemical proxies and planktic foraminiferal assemblages are used to decipher precipitation and vegetation changes as well as the sea surface conditions with respect to Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and marine primary productivity (MPP). n-Alkane records as a proxy for precipitation changes suggest a series of six distinct drought events at 5.4kaBP, from ca. 5.1kaBP to 4.9kaBP, from 4.8 to 4.7kaBP, at 4.6ka BP, from 4.4 to 4.3kaBP and, from 3.8 to 3.7kaBP. Each drought event is associated with a major vegetation change towards higher proportions of C4 vegetation. The drought events are further accompanied by annual and spring/ winter SST warming as well as decreasing MPP in the Alboran Sea. Altogether, the close correlation of the observed droughts with North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)-like variability suggests changes in the atmospheric circulation as important driving mechanism of terrestrial and oceanic variability at southern Iberia and the Alboran Sea, respectively. Sea surface variability in the Gulf of Cadiz, instead, is intimately linked to the North Atlantic Bond Events. In particular, during Bond Events 3 and 4 a pronounced increase in seasonality is found.
The ‘Duvensee Moor’ is famous for its abundance of evidence of Mesolithic hazelnut roasting at the Boreal Duvensee-Lake. In 2010, geophysicists and students of the Christian- Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel and archaeologists from the ZBSA (Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology) gathered data about proposed islands in the former lake now filled with peat. The aim of this field exercise was to use non-invasive methods to map Mesolithic dwelling-sites in their geomorphological context.
Recent studies have shown that faunal assemblages from Mesolithic sites in inland Northern Europe contain more fish remains than previously thought, but the archaeological and archaeozoological record does not reveal the dietary importance of aquatic species to hunter-gatherer-fishers, even at a societal level. For example, the function of bone points, as hunting weapons or fishing equipment, has long been debated. Moreover, traditional methods provide no indication of variable subsistence practices within a population. For these reasons, paleodietary studies using stable isotope analyses of human remains have become routine. We present radiocarbon (14 C) and stable isotope data from nine prehistoric human bones from the Early Mesolithic-Early Neolithic site of Friesack 4, and isotopic data for local terrestrial mammals (elk, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, aurochs, beaver) and freshwater fish (European eel, European perch). The reference data allow individual paleodiets to be reconstructed. Using paleo-diet estimates of fish consumption, and modern values for local freshwater reservoir effects, we also calibrate human 14 C ages taking into account dietary reservoir effects. Although the number of individuals is small, it is possible to infer a decline in the dietary importance of fish from the Preboreal to the Boreal Mesolithic, and an increase in aquatic resource consumption in the Early Neolithic.
Burial practices, as a kind of ritual activities, consist of many steps, represented archaeologically by different types of burial objects and features, which quite often reflect and clarify cultural distinctions. From this point, the Northeast European forest zone from the Baltic to the Urals is of great interest in the Early and Mid-Holocene. Besides a considerable cultural diversity connected to hunter-gatherer communities, the territory is characterized by a generally favorable preservation of organic materials, including human skeletal remains. Nevertheless, the area has remained virtually a terra incognita from a comparative perspective assessing cultural links and chronological trajectories between Later Stone Age burial sites on a supraregional scale, although it is of particular interest also from a Western perspective due to the sequential, regionally very diverse appearance of “Neolithic” traits such as first pottery and early agriculture within this Eastern hunter-gatherer sphere. With respect to the application of a modern multi-proxy spectrum of methods to the information and materials from previously excavated sites, targeted analyses of existing finds as well as new excavations at several key sites are currently changing this picture. All these factors and developments shape our current understanding of the cultural processes in the above-mentioned time and space. Therefore, the session provides a forum for scholars, which are working with materials from different burial sites. Based on these contributions, variations, discrepancies and similarities should become transparent across the outlined area. This will lead to a better understanding of the transformation of burial practices as well as the ritual sphere and its role in the lifeways of the communities. Crucial problems to be presented and discussed may be divided into the three topics: 1. New data, results of recent excavations, application of new, interdisciplinary cutting-edge desktop and field methods in burial research; 2. The structure of burial sites, the significance and interconnection of burial objects; 3. The socio-cultural interactions between hunter-gatherer communities as well as between forager and farmer societies and how they can be traced on the base of archaeological information from burial sites. A thorough and multi-dimensional investigation of mortuary rites within the session is hoped to bring us closer to the understanding of both the evolution of mortuary practices and the nature of burial rites that played a role in the late forager societies of the northeast European forest zone within their wider Eurasian frame. We cordially invite experts and young specialists in the field of burial archaeology as well as the archaeology of hunter-gatherers to contact us directly with a brief abstract of the proposed topic according to the issues to be discussed within the session.
The purpose of this session is to bring together specialists who work on wetland sites dating from the end of the last Ice Age to the introduction of farming. The excellent organic preservation of such sites provide a unique insight into past lives and have an enormous importance for the understanding of our past – especially for the temperate climatic zone north of the Alps. Interdisciplinary collaboration and cutting-edge scientific methods are enabling high-resolution palaeo-climatic and palaeo-environmental modelling to be used to discover how people reacted to and adapted to severe climate changes at the end of the Ice Age and in the early Holocene. Over the last five years, new research projects, especially in early Holocene Mesolithic bog sites have been initiated throughout Europe. We would like to invite presentations about new results of archaeological investigation of Stone Age bog sites from a wider perspective, which connect regional/local environmental databases to the archaeological record. Furthermore, we want to discuss the threat to such sites due to current climate change, modern farming practices and extraction of peat, resulting in rapid peat degradation and the destruction of this valuable archaeological heritage. We anticipate that through discussion of the various topics, the session will broaden our common knowledge of these archaeological resources, stimulate the growing interest of the scientific community in new areas of research on bog sites, and foster collaboration on an international level.
The importance of a place can be assessed via an analysis of its centrality. However, although central place research has a long history, there is no generally accepted theoretical base, leading to continuous debates about the core elements of centrality and those features that ultimately constitute the centrality of a place. We propose a generalized definition that understands centrality as the relative concentration of interaction. Using this definition, we are able to integrate various social, cultural, and natural aspects in the analysis of a central place and its landscape setting. We present a semi-quantitative method to assess the actual and potential centrality and that enables us (a) to draw conclusions about the type and characteristics of central places, (b) to investigate their development throughout time, and (c) to compare them to each other. We sketch the application of the method using two exemplary sites: the Iron Age site Heuneburg and the Roman palace Felix Romuliana
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is one of the most widespread human pathogens known today, yet its origin and evolutionary history are still unclear and controversial. Here, we report the analysis of three ancient HBV genomes recovered from human skeletons found at three different archaeological sites in Germany. We reconstructed two Neolithic and one medieval HBV genomes by de novo assembly from shotgun DNA sequencing data. Additionally, we observed HBV-specific peptides using paleo-proteomics. Our results show that HBV circulates in the European population for at least 7000 years. The Neolithic HBV genomes show a high genomic similarity to each other. In a phylogenetic network, they do not group with any human-associated HBV genome and are most closely related to those infecting African non-human primates. These ancient virus forms appear to represent distinct lineages that have no close relatives today and possibly went extinct. Our results reveal the great potential of ancient DNA from human skeletons in order to study the long-time evolution of blood borne viruses.
Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae), was very common in Europe till the 16th century. Here, we perform an ancient DNA study on medieval skeletons from Denmark that show lesions specific for lepromatous leprosy (LL). First, we test the remains for M. leprae DNA to confirm the infection status of the individuals and to assess the bacterial diversity. We assemble 10 complete M. leprae genomes that all differ from each other. Second, we evaluate whether the human leukocyte antigen allele DRB1*15:01, a strong LL susceptibility factor in modern populations, also predisposed medieval Europeans to the disease. The comparison of genotype data from 69 M. leprae DNA-positive LL cases with those from contemporary and medieval controls reveals a statistically significant association in both instances. In addition, we observe that DRB1*15:01 co-occurs with DQB1*06:02 on a haplotype that is a strong risk factor for inflammatory diseases today.