Article

Palaeoenvironmental evidence for the impact of the crusades on the local and regional environment of medieval (13th-16th century) northern Latvia, eastern Baltic

Article

Palaeoenvironmental evidence for the impact of the crusades on the local and regional environment of medieval (13th-16th century) northern Latvia, eastern Baltic

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Abstract

This paper evaluates the impact of the crusades on the landscape and environment of northern Latvia between the 13th–16th centuries (medieval Livonia). The crusades replaced tribal societies in the eastern Baltic with a religious state (Ordenstaat) run by the military orders and their allies, accompanied by significant social, cultural and economic developments. These changes have previously received little consideration in palaeoenvironmental studies of past land use in the eastern Baltic region, but are fundamental to understanding the development and expansion of a European Christian identity. Sediment cores from Lake Trikāta, located adjacent to a medieval castle and settlement, were studied using pollen, macrofossils, loss-on-ignition and magnetic susceptibility. Our results show that despite continuous agricultural land use from 500 BC, the local landscape was still densely wooded until the start of the crusades in AD 1198 when a diversified pattern of pasture, meadow and arable land use was established. Colonisation followed the crusades, although in Livonia this occurred on a much smaller scale than in the rest of the Ordenstaat; Trikāta is atypical showing significant impact following the crusades with many other palaeoenvironmental studies only revealing more limited impact from the 14th century and later. Subsequent wars and changes in political control in the post-medieval period had little apparent effect on agricultural land use.

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... Through these reconstructions, we compare does C/N ratio and ICP-OES independently reflect similar results about the human impact on the environment as more traditional palaeoecological methods such as palaeobotany. Despite continuous agricultural land use from 500 BCE, the local landscape surrounding Lake Trikātas was still densely wooded until the start of the crusades in 1198 CE when a diversified pattern of pasture, meadow and arable land use was established (Stivrins et al., 2016a). In addition, diatom results indicate the water quality has sharply deteriorated since the Industrial Revolution (1850 CE) and the Soviet Union occupation period (1940( -1991, allowing sewage of different origins to pass directly into the lake . ...
... The approximate catchment area is 10 km 2 . Today's surrounding landscape comprises a mixture of cultivated land and pasture overlaying sandy and podzolic soils (Stivrins et al., 2016a). Currently, the lake is highly polluted and is characterised as eutrophic/hypertrophic. ...
... The till is rich in carbonates (most likely of limestone origin) brought to this territory by the last Weichselian glaciation from Estonia and accumulated during deglaciation stages. The mean winter and summer temperatures are −6°C and +16.5°C, respectively, and overall climate can be characterised as continental with mean annual precipitation of 700-800 mm (Stivrins et al., 2016a). ...
Article
Anthropogenic impacts on lake ecosystems have increased substantially towards the present. However, the strength and timing in most cases are not evaluated in detail, missing valuable information on the response and recovery of an aquatic system. In this study, we use the sediment total organic carbon/total nitrogen ratio (C/N) and inductively coupled-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) elements and the available information about the biological processes to explore anthropogenic land use impact on the lake ecosystem. As a case study we selected a hemiboreal lake Trikātas (Latvia, NE Europe). The Pearson correlation was used to statistically test the correlations of all variables. Our results show that the C/N ratio lowered immediately with the onset of crop cultivation at 500 BCE. Extensive forest clearance and an abrupt increase in land use are reflected through the associated chemical elements from ICP-OES and the increasing presence of herbivore dung spores since 1200 CE. These changes concur with the excess of fish remains suggesting a decrease in fish populations. Interestingly, anthropogenic land use driven erosion and accompanied calcium carbonate (CaCO3) matter influx favoured the abundance of Chara spp. in Lake Trikātas since 500 CE, which currently forms the protected specific habitat-type (H3140) of the European Union. At present, specific submerged macrophyte Chara habitat-type diminished almost entirely due to increased nutrient input, phytoplankton blooming, hypertrophic conditions and reduced light availability. The continued land use practices led to a switch in organic matter source in the lake from macrophytes to solely algal origin. The current study underlines the need of additional methods used to detect the sensitivity of lake ecosystem to external disturbances such as minor anthropogenic land use that might not necessarily be apparent in more traditional analyses such as palynology.
... The topmost 0.5 m of unconsolidated sediment was sampled using a Willner-type gravity sampler. Lake Arai su revealed a 12.4-m-long sediment sequence of homogeneous gyttja (Stivrins et al., 2015), while an 8-m-long sequence of alternating silt and homogeneous gyttja was obtained from Lake Trik atas (Stivrins et al., 2016). Both sequences were analysed for pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, loss-on-ignition and magnetic susceptibility (Stivrins et al., 2015(Stivrins et al., , 2016. ...
... Lake Arai su revealed a 12.4-m-long sediment sequence of homogeneous gyttja (Stivrins et al., 2015), while an 8-m-long sequence of alternating silt and homogeneous gyttja was obtained from Lake Trik atas (Stivrins et al., 2016). Both sequences were analysed for pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, loss-on-ignition and magnetic susceptibility (Stivrins et al., 2015(Stivrins et al., , 2016. ...
... The peak in SCP emissions occurred in AD 1982AE10 (Latvenergo electric utility company emissions data; Stivrins et al., 2015). The age model of the Lake Trik atas sediment sequence was established by six accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14 C dates (Stivrins et al., 2016). The chronology of Tei ci Bog peat is based on radionuclide dating of 210 Pb, 137 Cs and 241 Am, SCPs and 11 AMS 14 C samples of Sphagnum stems (Supporting Information Tables S1 and S2). ...
Article
We report the first geochemically confirmed findings of the Askja volcano (Iceland) AD 1875 eruption cryptotephra in Eastern Europe. The cryptotephra finding in Latvia is the easternmost finding of the Askja AD 1875 so far, providing an important time marker in the sediments. Although low concentrations of Askja AD 1875 rhyolitic glass shards were recorded, our findings suggest the possibility of also tracing other historical cryptotephras in lacustrine and peat sediments in Eastern Europe. We use the Askja AD 1875 tephra isochrone to synchronize pollen data of human activities, i.e. rye (Secale cereale) cultivation. Our comparison of Secale pollen from two sites reveals that there were minor dissimilarities in the timing of highest rye cultivation, and that a synchronous decrease of rye cultivation occurred at both sites few years after the Askja eruption at AD 1875.
... The Medieval period in the Baltic was dominated by the Crusades, a holy war led by the military orders and bishops that conquered modern-day Latvia, Estonia and western Lithuania during the 13th century, with the aim of converting the indigenous pagan tribal societies to Christianity (Brown and Pluskowski, 2014). The conquest of tribal land during the Crusades resulted in changes in the ownership, administration and organisation of the land, and palaeorecords indicate that the landscape changed immediately following the Crusades (Stivrins et al., 2016a), or the century after the Crusades, since the 14th century and later. Overall, this period is characterised by an increase in agriculture and land-use in Latvia that required a vast amount of human labour. ...
... The reduction of the land-use area and a shift from an extensive to an intensive farming economy, which requires less human labour, occurred with the onset of the Industrial Revolution at this region roughly at AD 1850. Industrialization and the accompanying increase in the population density caused increased environmental pressure in many areas due to higher inputs of effluent from industrial and human activity, particularly following construction adjacent to a lake (Stivrins et al., 2016a). Hence, the eastern Baltic has undergone significant social, cultural and economic changes over the last 2000 years from a relatively mute to distinct anthropogenic impact on both the landscape and aquatic ecosystems (Veski et al., 2005;Brown and Pluskowski, 2014;Stivrins et al., 2016a). ...
... Industrialization and the accompanying increase in the population density caused increased environmental pressure in many areas due to higher inputs of effluent from industrial and human activity, particularly following construction adjacent to a lake (Stivrins et al., 2016a). Hence, the eastern Baltic has undergone significant social, cultural and economic changes over the last 2000 years from a relatively mute to distinct anthropogenic impact on both the landscape and aquatic ecosystems (Veski et al., 2005;Brown and Pluskowski, 2014;Stivrins et al., 2016a). ...
Article
The current status of a lake can be evaluated via monitoring, but such data can only provide information about the last few decades to a century at best. In most cases, the natural state of a lake cannot be ascertained. This is even more challenging if the apparent anthropogenic effects on the environment over the last millennia are considered. We used data on fossil algae from five evenly distributed hemiboreal lakes in geographically different regions in Latvia, NE Europe to assess the amount of compositional change or turnover (i.e., the beta-diversity) in the algae datasets for the last 2000 years by using a Detrended Canonical Correspondence Analysis. Our results show that the algae turnover increases towards the present day with distinct shifts during times characterised by extensive and intensive agriculture establishment, and political and economic changes. Because the anthropogenic impact on the landscape and lakes before AD 1200 was relatively minor, we propose that algae composition at that time can be assumed to represent the natural reference conditions for most Latvian lakes.
... Although fire has accompanied human evolution, our understanding of fire remains quite meagre, especially in Latvia, where only a limited number of long term fire reconstruction studies involving fire record data have been conducted (e.g. Veski et al. 2012;Stivrins et al. 2015aStivrins et al. , 2015bStivrins et al. , 2016aFeurdean et al. 2017;Kitenberga et al. 2019). The latest studies show that humandriven fires affected landscape transformation in the Central European Lowlands already 8500 years ago (Dietze et al. 2018). ...
... Although subsequent wars and changes in political control had little apparent effect on agricultural land use in this region (e.g. Lake Āraiši), Lake Trikātas located in the northeast of Lake Bricu indicates that there are exceptions where immediate change is traceable both by pollen and charcoal data (Stivrins et al. 2016a). Suggested reasons remain inconclusive in the absence of additional archaeological and palynological evidence from Lake Bricu. ...
Article
Full-text available
Fire is today a pan-European issue and is expected to be more salient because of climate and land use changes. Even though natural and anthropogenic fires have shaped forest composition and landscape characteristics since the last glacial retreat from northeastern Europe, fire frequency is an understudied topic. To address this issue, we analysed macroscopic charcoal (>160 μm) from two sediment sequences located in the central and littoral parts of Lake Bricu (central Latvia) revealing the fire frequency during the Holocene. The chronology of the analysed sediment sequences is based on spheroidal fly-ash carbonaceous particles and accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating. Macroscopic charcoal results were examined in detail using the CharAnalysis approach. The mean fire return interval for the entire Holocene was 372 years (261–494 years). Fire reconstructions revealed higher fire frequency during the early and late Holocene (cool climate), but lower frequency during the middle Holocene (warm climate). Although our study underlines that natural fire frequency might decrease during warmer climate, the anthropogenic fire use already has surpassed the baseline of natural fire frequency.
... Previous palaeobotanical studies (plant macroremains and pollen) of poor fen peatlands in coastal dune areas in the southern Baltic Sea coast in Poland showed that their development was associated with Baltic Sea level changes (Tobolski 1987). In the eastern part of the Baltic coast, high-resolution analyses of plant macroremains have mainly targeted boreal raised bogs (Sillasoo et al. 2007(Sillasoo et al. , 2011Väliranta et al. 2007) and dealt with postglacial palaeoenvironmental changes including tree migration, climatic events, human impact and peat accumulation (Amon et al. 2010;Ozola et al. 2010;Veski et al. 2012;Kalnina et al. 2015;Stankevica et al. 2015;Stivrins et al. 2016). ...
... On the other hand, these changes in forest structure towards a more open character and the presence of macrocharcol could also signal human impact. Evidence of human activity were detected earlier since the Mesolithic in Latvia (Kalnina et al. 2004;Stivrins et al. 2016), but pollen of cultivars (Secale cereale) in this region were only detected around 1500 cal yr. BP (Stivrins et al. 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
We present the paleoecological development of a rich fen located in the dune area on the SE Baltic coast, during the last 7500 years. The Apšuciems Mire hosts rare and endangered plant communities in Europe, such as Schoenus ferrugineus and Cladium mariscus. Analysis at high-resolution of plant macroremains in two peat cores was carried out to reconstruct local vegetation succession and fluctuations in moisture availability on the peatland, while a pollen record was developed to reconstruct plant succession, moisture variability and human activity at the regional scale. Based on the presence or the absence of macroremains of plants that occur in wet habitat e.g. Cladium mariscus, Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, Alisma plantago-aquatica and Botrycoccocus we distinguished four wet periods ca. 6000, 2000, 1750–1550, 1200–150 cal yr. BP and four dry periods (ca. 7000, 4600–4200, 1800–1750, 1550–1200 cal yr. BP) in the peatland’s development. A water level increase at 1200 cal yr. BP triggered the development of plant communities containing Chara sp., Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, then Cladium mariscus. Our study shows a link between climate change at the regional scale and vegetation development in Apšuciems Mire. We showed that changes in vegetation structure during last 150 years was caused by drainage and human activity.
... This record of anthropogenic impact is in accordance with other data from the region studied and linked to colonisation following the crusades (cf. Stivrins et al., 2016 and papers quoted there). Transformations of more fertile soil into fields ca. ...
... The preference for fast growing conifers by the wood industry (cf. Boden et al., 2014) caused P. sylvestis to become the dominant tree component in north-east Europe during the last 300 years (Stivrins et al., 2016;Edvardsson et al., 2018;Gałka et al., 2017b). This transformation of forest composition is also recorded at the Raganu spring-fed fen. ...
Article
Full-text available
The calcareous substrate of spring-fed fens makes them unique islands of biodiversity, hosting endangered, vulnerable, and protected vascular plants. Hence, spring-fed fens ecosystems require special conservation attention because many of them are destroyed (e.g. drained, forested) and it is extremely difficult or even impossible to restore the unique hydrogeological and geochemical conditions enabling their function. The long-term perspective of paleoecological studies allows indication of former wetland ecosystem states and provides understanding of their development over millennia. To examine the late Holocene dynamics of a calcareous spring-fed fen (Raganu Mire) ecosystem on the Baltic Sea coast (Latvia) in relation to environmental changes, substrate and human activity, we have undertaken high-resolution analyses of plant macrofossils, pollen, mollusc, stable carbon (δ 13 C) and oxygen (δ 18 O) isotopes combined with radiocarbon dating (AMS) in three coring locations. Our study revealed that peat deposits began accumulating ca. 7000 cal. yr BP and calcareous deposits (tufa) from 1450 cal. yr BP, coinciding with regional hydrological changes. Several fire events occurred between 4000 and 1600 cal. yr BP, which appeared to have had a limited effect on local vegetation. The most significant changes in the forest and peatland ecosystems were at 3200 cal. yr BP associated with a dry climate stage and high fire activity, and then between 1400 and 500 cal. yr BP potentially associated with temperature changes during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and Little Ice Age. Hydrological disturbances in the peatland catchment from 1400 cal. yr BP were most likely strengthened by human activity (deforestation) in this region. The relationship between the development of this peatland and changes in its catchment area, such as land cover changes or fluctuations in groundwater levels, suggest that protection and restoration of spring-fed fen ecosystems should also include the surrounding catchment. The presence of calcareous sediments, as well as appropriate temperature and local hydrological conditions appear to be the most crucial factors controlling Cladium marisus populations in our site-currently at the eastern limit of its distribution in Europe.
... S. cereale type pollen becomes abundant in sample cores only from the middle of the 1st millennium AD-it was found in Araiši lake sediments dated to circa cal AD 400 (Stivrins et al. 2015) and in eastern Latvia from cal AD 450 (Stivrins et al. 2014). In Trikata Lake in northern Latvia the earliest S. cereale pollen appeared in cal AD 750, although agricultural activity in the region is recorded from around 500 cal BC (Stivrins et al. 2016). A large increase in rye pollen together with Centaurea cyanus pollen is observed from circa cal AD 1200 onwards (Stivrins et al. 2016) (Table 2; Fig. 1). ...
... In Trikata Lake in northern Latvia the earliest S. cereale pollen appeared in cal AD 750, although agricultural activity in the region is recorded from around 500 cal BC (Stivrins et al. 2016). A large increase in rye pollen together with Centaurea cyanus pollen is observed from circa cal AD 1200 onwards (Stivrins et al. 2016) (Table 2; Fig. 1). ...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we review the earliest Secale (rye) records, both pollen and macroremains, from the eastern Baltic region (northeast Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland) in order to understand the processes evident in the beginnings of rye cultivation. By taking note of the abundance of recovered Secale grains and pollen in relation to other cereals found in published archaeobotanical data, we try to understand when rye began to be used regionally as a staple food. The clarification of the timing of Secale in the East Baltic, that had social and economic implications, is of particular importance. In this publication we also present a radiocarbon date directly derived from dating a Secale grain from a Roman period hillfort in Lithuania. The date obtained constitutes the earliest record of Secale in the eastern Baltic region, showing that rye cultivation traditions and concomitant innovations in agricultural technology started there much earlier than previously suggested.
... A high-resolution study from a forest hollow in Russia indicates an alder decline at a time with no occurrence of local fire or agriculture (Kuosmanen et al., 2014) (Fig. 2). Likewise, in Latvia the decline in alder pollen can be observed at AD 700-900 (Stivrins et al., 2016). A laminated Lake Suminko sediment core in northern Poland (Pedziszewska et al., 2015) reveals a decline of alder pollen from 11 to 4% at AD 850-880. ...
... Location of study sites in Finland: 1-K€ ammekk€ a hollow, 2 -Naava hollow, 3 -Valkea-Kotinen lake. Sites discussed in the paper: 4 -Kiilaspere bog, Estonia (Veski, 1998); 5 -Trik atas lake; Latvia (Stivrins et al., 2016); 6 -Suminko lake, Poland (Pedziszewska et al., 2015); 7-Olga hollow, Russia (Kuosmanen et al., 2014). A third possible factor that can explain the event is a pathogen outbreak. ...
Article
We report pollen-stratigraphical evidence for an abrupt, episodic, and widespread population decline of alder (Alnus), one of the most common boreal tree genera, during the medieval period in northern Europe. Decline of alder pollen values was observed both in forest hollow pollen records reflecting local vegetation of pristine forests and in pollen percentage and pollen accumulation data from lake sediments. The event began roughly AD 600 and the recovery took place at AD 1000. Human impact is an unlikely cause because the decline is specific to alder and there is no evidence for a concurrent episode of human impact. It is possible that the decline was caused or influenced by a severe drought. Another potential cause is a sudden, widespread pathogen outbreak, especially as alder is known to be sensitive to the impacts of fungal pathogens such as the oomycete Phytophthora.
... During this time, the state border of Muscovy was located near the study area, population density in dangerous border region was low (Khitrov and Kozlov, 2018), and forests were maintained relatively undisturbed as a so-called "Abatis belt" to protect Russian lands against raids by nomads from the steppe (Bobrovsky, 2002;Volkov, 2011). The same processes were traced in the Baltic region where a reduction in fire activity was detected in several studies (Veski et al., 2005;Stivrins et al., 2016;Feurdean et al., 2017) and related to a decline in the population density due to wars and famine. ...
... However, the finding of soil charcoal with the age of 200 ± 60 cal yr BP pointed to at least one fire event. The evidence of decreased fire frequency agrees well with other charcoal data from eastern and northern Europe, indicating low fire activity at the same time (Veski et al., 2005;Stivrins et al., 2016;Lehndorff et al., 2015;Feurdean et al., 2017). The major decline in burning during the last several centuries may be linked to an economic and cultural transition from traditional fire practices with elements of slash and burn cultivation to modern agriculture and forest management assuming protection against fire (Granström and Niklasson, 2008;Wallenius, 2011). ...
Article
Climate change and human activity considerably influenced the temperate European deciduous forests through the Holocene, with the anthropogenic impacts being detected even in currently protected areas. This paper is focused on the area of the Kaluzhskiye Zaseki Nature Reserve, which contains remnants of primary broadleaved forests in central European Russia. Here, we present a new multi-proxy record including pollen, plant macrofossils, charcoal, loss on ignition and radiocarbon dating from the Mochulya peatland supplemented by 14 radiocarbon dates of charcoal fragments from soil pits in the study area. The results show that Mochulya peatland was a fen throughout the most of the time it existed. During the last 4200 cal yr BP the study area was occupied by broadleaved forests of Quercus, Ulmus, and Tilia. Picea became relatively abundant after 2300 cal yr BP. Despite the long-term human impact, vegetation fragments of these forests have persisted in the area until the present. Three main periods of deforestation and frequent fires were identified: 3700–3200 cal yr BP, 2000–1600 cal yr BP (the Early Iron Age) and 1000–400 cal yr BP (the Medieval Period). Whereas human-induced vegetation changes were apparent during the last two periods, vegetation dynamics during 3700–3200 cal yr BP were likely caused, at least in part, by climatic factors.
... The latest palaeoecological studies have been largely focused on the environmental transformation of the last millennium as it is a fascinating period of time, representing widespread human influence on the global ecosystem (e.g. Feurdean et al., 2015;Klimenko, 2015;Poska et al., 2014;Stančikaitė et al., 2008;Stivrins et al., 2016). In the Middle Ages, considerable intensification of settlement processes was one of the important reasons that were responsible for quick changes in forest structure. ...
Article
Pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, charcoal and geochemical analyses of sediments from Lakes Salęt and Ruskowiejskie (NE Poland) were used to reconstruct vegetation changes in the former Galindia territory (Old Prussia) related to human activity and the climatic instability of the medieval period. Among archaeologists and historians, there is a widespread opinion that the permanent transformations of the environment in Prussia (south-eastern Baltic region) began not earlier than after its conquest by the Teutonic Order and resulted from its economic activity and intensive colonization. The impact of previous inhabitants of this land on the environment has been considered as definitely weak. Our results provide entirely contrasting evidence and demonstrate that strong and permanent deforestation started as early as in the early 11th century AD, in the pre-Teutonic Order time, and were associated with the economic activity of the Prussian Galinditae tribes. In this paper, we also discuss a possible interpretation of the medieval distribution patterns of Quercus. We assume that human activity catalysed and amplified both its spreading process and decline, primarily driven by the ‘Little Ice Age’ climatic deterioration. Our palynological results indicate the significant spread of Picea from ca. AD 1000, which we interpret as reflecting hydrological and climatic changes. Moreover, we hypothesize that the spread of Carpinus in the early medieval period (11th–13th centuries), which occurred in connection with more intense human activity, was largely because of woodland pasturing.
... However, over the course of the last millennium, biomass burning and peak magnitude have markedly declined, reaching an absolute minimum between 500 and 300 cal yr BP (Fig. 5). Our low level in macroscopic charcoal is also visible in other microcharcoal sequences from Latvia and Estonia and suggests a regional reduction in fire activity (Veski et al., 2005;Stivrins et al., 2015bStivrins et al., , 2016. Historically, these were times of distress (wars and famine) in the Baltic region, leading to a decline in population density (Stivrins et al., 2015b), and also characterised by cold and moist climate conditions of the Little Ice Age (Sillasoo et al., 2007;Gałka et al., 2016). ...
Article
Disturbances by fire are essential for the functioning of boreal/hemiboreal forests, but knowledge of long-term fire regime dynamics is limited. We analysed macrocharcoal morphologies and pollen of a sediment record from Lake Lielais Svētiņu (eastern Latvia), and in conjunction with fire traits analysis present the first record of Holocene variability in fire regime, fuel sources and fire types in boreal forests of the Baltic region. We found a phase of moderate to high fire activity during the cool and moist early (mean fire return interval; mFRI of ∼280 years; 11,700–7500 cal yr BP) and the late (mFRI of ∼190 years; 4500–0 cal yr BP) Holocene and low fire activity (mFRI of ∼630 years) during the Holocene Thermal Optimum (7500–4500 cal yr BP). Charcoal morphotypes and the pollen record show the predominance of frequent surface fires, occasionally transitioning to the crown during Pinus sylvestris-Betula boreal forests and less frequent surface fires during the dominance of temperate deciduous forests. In contrast to the prevailing opinion that fires in boreal forests are mostly low to moderate severity surface fires, we found evidence for common occurrence of stand-replacing crown fires in Picea abies canopy. Our results highlight that charcoal morphotypes analysis allows for distinguishing the fuel types and surface from crown fires, therefore significantly advancing our interpretation of fire regime. Future warmer temperatures and increase in the frequency of dry spells and abundant biomass accumulation can enhance the fire risk on the one hand, but will probably promote the expansion of broadleaf deciduous forests to higher latitudes, on the other hand. By highlighting the capability of broadleaf deciduous forests to act as fire-suppressing landscape elements, our results suggest that fire activity may not increase in the Baltic area under future climate change.
... Diatom species shifts indicate a switch from a mesotrophic to eutrophic state, with no lag between the change in land use and the lake response. In Latvia, the palaeovegetation records from Lake Trikāta show increasing signs of human impact from 2500 b2k, with the beginning of continuous cereal cultivation (Stivrins et al., 2016). The most significant changes are, however, recorded much later, in the early 13th century ce. ...
Article
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Lake sediments constitute natural archives of past environmental changes. Historically, research has focussed mainly on generating regional climate records, but records of human impacts caused by land-use and exploitation of freshwater resources are now attracting scientific and management interests. Long-term environmental records are useful to establish ecosystem reference conditions, enabling comparisons with current ones and potentially allowing future trajectories to be more tightly constrained. Here we review the timing and onset of human disturbance in and around inland water ecosystems as revealed through sedimentary archives from around the world. Palaeolimnology provides access to a wealth of information reflecting early human activities and their corresponding aquatic ecological shifts. First human impacts on aquatic systems and their watersheds are highly variable in time and space. Landscape disturbance often constitutes the first anthropogenic signal in palaeolimnological records. While the effects of humans at the landscape level are relatively easily demonstrated, the earliest signals of human-induced changes in the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems need to be investigated further. Additional studies will improve our understanding of linkages between human settlements, their exploitation of land and water resources, and the downstream effects on continental waters.
... For instance, sedimentary records from Lagunillo del Tejo Lake (40 km to the E of Cuenca, Mid-West Spain, conquered in AD 1177; Lopez-Blanco, Gaillard, Miracle, & Vicente, 2012) and Las Tablas de Daimiel wetland (Central Spain, conquered in the 11th century; Gil García et al., 2007), indirectly suggest that the Feudal conquest left weak or no clearly discernible ecological signature in the analysed sedimentary records. Similarly, in the Baltic region, studies aimed at identifying the environmental effects of the Crusades in the late 12th and 13th centuries found no significant changes on rural landscapes and sedimentation patterns ( Stivrins et al., 2016). Besides Algendar, appreciable accelerated sediment deposition rates at the MCA-LIA transition are only found at three other locations within the Western Mediterranean, albeit with considerably lower acceleration values: La Mosca Lake (South Spain, c. 1.5-to 5.5-fold increase; Oliva & Gomez-Ortiz, 2012), Taravilla Lake (Central Spain, c. 7-fold increase; Moreno et al., 2008), and Zoñar Lake (South Spain, c. 3-to 12-fold increase; Martin-Puertas et al., 2008), with the rest of studies showing no significant changes in sedimentation ( Figure 3). ...
Article
The debate on human environmental impact has often been locked into cause-effect reasoning, aiming at factoring human impact on top of climatic variability. Here we use evidence from Minorca and the Mediterranean region to show the potential for amplified environmental change emerging from complex feedbacks between climatic and historical events. Alluvial sediments collected in a gully reveal a 14 to 27-fold increase in sediment accumulation rates, leading to the rapid aggradation of the valley floor from c. AD 1300 onwards. These events concurred with the Feudal conquest of the island (AD 1287) and the transition from the so-called Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA, c. AD 900 - 1300) to the Little Ice Age (LIA, c. AD 1300 - 1850). This evidence of unprecedented sediment mobilisation, in context with climatic and historical events marking the Mediterranean region, highlights the implications for environmental vulnerability emerging from positive feedbacks between climate and land-use. Understanding such interactions in historical contexts is paramount to increase our capacity for anticipatory learning in the face of rapid climatic, economical and ecological transformations today.
... The causes of these changes may vary but often they are attributed to the turbulent demographic and political development during the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, followed by the Migration period and then by the gradual, and not always successful, formation of new states. Some authors suggest that discontinuous environmental development was characteristic mainly of the peripheral regions of the inhabited areas (Pokorný 2004;Sádlo et al. 2005;Stivrins et al. 2016;Fredh et al. 2017). ...
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Fluctuations in intensity of human impact and corresponding vegetation changes have been reported from different parts of Europe for the period from the beginning of the 1st millennium ad to the high Middle Ages. In the Bílé Karpaty mountains (White Carpathians), a region well-known for its biologically valuable ancient grasslands, an extensive spread of woodland could have occurred in the Migration period (4th–6th century) and especially in the Confinium period (11th–12th century), when settling of this border region was legally prohibited. However, Holocene continuity of non-woodland vegetation was suggested as an explanation for the unique species richness of the local grasslands. If this explanation is true, then the turbulent times in medieval history could not have led to complete re-establishment of woodland. To test this idea palaeoecologically, we analysed four new profiles from wetland deposits for pollen, macrofossils and abiotic proxies, and re-dated some old profiles from the area. The results show the continual presence of human impact indicators since the Migration period in the southwest of the Bílé Karpaty, where these unique grasslands occur. Agricultural activities were indicated by pollen of crops, ruderals, weeds and grassland taxa and by macrofossils of fen-grassland plants. Grazing and burning seem to have been the main disturbances during the older period, while mowing of meadows by scythe became more important since the 17th century. Fossil records differed among the sites as a consequence of differences in altitude and disturbance regimes, but converged gradually with time. Despite intensification of human activities, the landscape remained mosaic-like. Indicators of undisturbed woodlands have been detected only in the northeast. Continuous yet perhaps never too intensive disturbances might therefore have maintained the ancient grassland species pool in the long term.
... Simultaneously, fire intensity in the area decreased, which is demonstrated by the decrease in the microcharcoal curve. Simultaneous regional reduction of the fire activity was noted in the eastern Baltic (Veski et al., 2005;Stivrins et al., 2015Stivrins et al., , 2016. In any case, the intensity of the human interference in the area lowered, and natural, most likely, climatic factors became increasingly important in the development of the local vegetation cover. ...
Article
This study presents the results of multi-proxy investigations of mid-to late-Holocene vegetation dynamics and land-use history associated with the Petrešiūnai archaeological site, north-east Lithuania. Identified vegetation changes are discussed in the context of both natural and anthropogenic factors determined within the site and its surroundings. The initial stages of colonisation and the subsequent land-use dynamics are discussed by applying the results of biostratigraphical and archaeological-historical data. To explore these issues, a lacustrine sediment core obtained from the stand-scale sedimentary basin was studied using a microbotanical (pollen and microcharcoal) survey and ¹⁴C and magnetic susceptibility (MS) measurements. Associations between proxies were statistically tested. In addition, archaeological excavations were conducted within the area of the Petrešiūnai hill fort. The results obtained show the presence of a heavily forested landscape with broad-leaved deciduous trees dominating the taxa existed in the area until approximately 4800-4700 cal BC. Low magnitude fire activity mainly caused by the natural factors was recorded. The expansion of spruce and the gradual decrease in thermophilous taxa suggests a local-scale climatic reversal started prior to the general decline of the HTM (Holocene Thermal Maximum). The decay of broad-leaved taxa followed by the pronounced culmination of Picea-dominated forest (2100-1500 cal BC) confirms the general re-organisation of the forest structure in the area. A small-scale vegetation stress, accompanied by an increase in fire interference suggestive of episodic Neolithic-Bronze Age human activity, was noted in the area at approximately 2800-2200 cal BC, 1800 cal BC and 1500 cal BC. Biostratigraphical and sedimentological data suggest agriculture practices and animal husbandry were introduced and the landscape was increasingly utilised between 1300 and 1000 cal BC, which preceded the archaeological record of the Petrešiūnai hill fort by a few hundred years. However, as indicated by pollen data, pastoral farming predominated the local economy until approximately 400 AD. The establishment of regular cultivation practices, including crop rotation, and the formation of permanent fields with introduction of winter cereals began in the surroundings of Petrešiūnai by the 6th - 7th c. AD. At that time, the secondary open Betula-dominant vegetation successions flourished in the area. A highly diversified landscape with large agriculture fields, open grounds, meadows and pastures culminated in the area between 1000 and 1300 AD. After this period, the intensity of the human-induced vegetation changes apparently decreased, which confirms re-organisation of the settlement pattern and land-use in this area.
... Diatom species shifts indicate a switch from a mesotrophic to eutrophic state, with no lag between the change in land use and the lake response. In Latvia, the palaeovegetation records from Lake Trikāta show increasing signs of human impact from 2500 b2k, with the beginning of continuous cereal cultivation (Stivrins et al., 2016). The most significant changes are, however, recorded much later, in the early 13th century ce. ...
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Lake sediments constitute natural archives of past environmental changes. Historically, research has focused mainly on generating regional climate records, but records of human impacts caused by land use and exploitation of freshwater resources are now attracting scientific and management interests. Long-term environmental records are useful to establish ecosystem reference conditions, enabling comparisons with current environments and potentially allowing future trajectories to be more tightly constrained. Here we review the timing and onset of human disturbance in and around inland water ecosystems as revealed through sedimentary archives from around the world. Palaeolimnology provides access to a wealth of information reflecting early human activities and their corresponding aquatic ecological shifts. First human impacts on aquatic systems and their watersheds are highly variable in time and space. Landscape disturbance often constitutes the first anthropogenic signal in palaeolimnological records. While the effects of humans at the landscape level are relatively easily demonstrated, the earliest signals of human-induced changes in the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems need very careful investigation using multiple proxies. Additional studies will improve our understanding of linkages between human settlements, their exploitation of land and water resources, and the downstream effects on continental waters.
... Diatom species shifts indicate a switch from a mesotrophic to eutrophic state, with no lag between the change in land use and the lake response. In Latvia, the palaeovegetation records from Lake Trikāta show increasing signs of human impact from 2500 b2k, with the beginning of continuous cereal cultivation (Stivrins et al., 2016). The most significant changes are, however, recorded much later, in the early 13th century ce. ...
... Each human settlement period left traces in the catchments of lakes, which are detectable using appropriate methods. The chronological framework for paleoecological reconstructions from this and neighboring regions is based mainly on radiocarbon dates (Gałka et al. 2014;Stivrins et al. 2016;Szal et al. 2017). The timescales for such studies thus depended on results of age-depth modeling, and their resolution is relatively poor. ...
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Annually laminated lake sediments provide high-resolution and accurate timescales for reliable paleoenvironmental reconstructions. We investigated human activity in a low-human-impact region of Poland, taking advantage of varved sediments from Lake Szurpiły, which span the last 8200 years. Multiple sediment variables indicated that catchment evolution and lacustrine responses, mainly to changes in forest cover, were divided into four phases. Because of sparse or only seasonal occupation of settlements in NE Poland, human impact in the region was insignificant until ca. 939 ± 55 BC (lacustrine phase I). During Phase II (939 ± 55 BC-AD 1392 ± 38), we recorded an increase in human indicators, reflecting the direct influence of a Yatvingian community. Afterwards, between AD 1392 ± 38 and 1770 ± 30 (phase III), permanent settlements and agricultural land use stabilized. The beginning of the last period (phase IV) was clearly identified by all sediment variables, which responded simultaneously to local human activities. Disappearance of laminae from AD 1858 ± 22 until about AD 1997 indicated disturbance of pre-existing, stable depositional conditions, followed by environmental recovery in the last 20 years. Such recovery may have been related to recent socioeconomic changes and establishment of a park that reduced human influence on the lake.
... The Baltic states often had even more dramatic change during the Crusades, as Stivrins et al. (2016) explain. "The Crusades replaced tribal societies in the eastern Baltic with a religious state (Ordenstaat) run by the military orders and their allies, accompanied by significant social, cultural and economic developments. ...
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Studies over the last couple of decades of human zoonotic (animal reservoir initiated) epidemics reveal that vulnerability-factors for such epidemics include high population densities, human-induced changes in the biological makeup of ecological systems, and the distinct human interactions within these new ecosystems, intensive farming practices, malnutrition, and prior ill-health. The recent DNA evidence of Yersinia pestis, known to be responsible for the bubonic plague, forces a re-evaluation of basic assumptions of the Black Death that almost all historical narratives have made. A monomorphic pathogen, Y. pestis, has been remarkable in how little it has changed since the Black Death, and there is no evidence to show that the 14th-century plague was more virulent or contagious than modern outbreaks. Contemporary medieval documentation reveals a perception that the Gaelic-Irish were not suffering from the Black Death as much as the colonists. However, if the genetic disposition between the national groups was a significant factor, then why is there no noteworthy difference noted in subsequent epidemics? This paper uses vulnerability factors for a zoonotic epidemic to assess regional ecological risk in Gaelic and colonial Ireland. Since the ecological change of the period has been largely attributed to human activity, socio-economic and knowledge systems and institutions role in promoting certain activity that altered the landscape is an important part of this inquiry. Pollen evidence is used in conjunction with historic and archaeological data to note regional differences, and to document how they became especially apparent during the Bruce Invasion of 1315–1318. The evidence suggests that vulnerability to epidemic disease was greater in the south-east and midlands of Ireland than in northern parts of the island, and that this paved the way for contrasting responses to the Black Death.
... Simultaneously, fire intensity in the area decreased, which is demonstrated by the decrease in the microcharcoal curve. Simultaneous regional reduction of the fire activity was noted in the eastern Baltic (Veski et al., 2005;Stivrins et al., 2015Stivrins et al., , 2016. In any case, the intensity of the human interference in the area lowered, and natural, most likely, climatic factors became increasingly important in the development of the local vegetation cover. ...
... Causes for the luminescence results being slightly too young could be dose rate uncertainties as discussed above. Too old AMS radiocarbon ages could be related to reservoir and hard water effects, as also observed in a regional studies by Koff and Terasmaa (2011), Poska and Saarse (2002) and Stivrins et al. (2016), and which our bulk sediment sample would be easily subjected to. ...
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In interstadial deposits, sand interbeds gain limited consideration in comparison with organic sediments, and therefore tend to be underrepresented in paleoenvironmental reconstructions. The Raunis site, central-eastern Latvia, is an example where organic beds have already gained some attention and been used to understand the complex interactions between advance and retreat of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet in the region. Sandy interlayers have so far not been investigated in detail and their time of deposition has also been unknown, therefore exploring these clastic-organic sediment alternation is of interest. This study provides a new set of luminescence datings along with sedimentological information from the character of individual quartz grains as detected from scanning electron microscope analysis. Sandy interlayers are dated to between 12 and 122 ka. Fast component OSL signal dominates in all investigated samples, but several samples have broad and/or skewed dose distributions. Only one sample is considered reliable and provides an age of 12.0 ± 0.6 ka. A radiocarbon age from organic sediments in the same unit yields an age of 14 025 ± 270 cal y BP. These two dates do not agree within 2 sigma, and this is likely related to reservoir and hard water effects of the radiocarbon sample. Sediments at the Raunis site fall into the Greenland Interstadial 1, but more detailed specification is not possible. The rest of the OSL ages are older than expected, likely due to incomplete bleaching during deposition. This means that stratigraphic reliability of this key site is likely hampered for further regional correlation.
... Recent models of the adaptation strategies show that the pre-industrial societies have coped with both climate changes and economic di culties 22 . The southern Baltic lowlands is a crucial region to understand the development and expansion of a European identity 23 . In particular, the Medieval crusades played an important role for the development of societies and it is expected that local environments along the routes they used was especially impacted. ...
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Connecting pathways are essential for cultural and economic exchange and play an important role in human life. Commonly, historians investigate the role of routes for cultural development, whereas the environmental consequences of historical route construction attract less attention. Here we present, for the first time, a high-resolution reconstruction of the impact of the major trade route via Marchionis in the southern Baltic lowlands on landscape evolution since its construction more than 800 years ago. We utilize precisely dated annually laminated lake sediments from Lake Czechowskie located alongside Via Marchionis to establish multiproxy data at 5-year resolution for an integrated interpretation with historical data. The transformation from a quasi-natural to a cultural landscape was promoted by the operation of Via Marchionis and occurred in three main phases. Superimposed on the long-term development were repeated interruptions by short-term downturns related to societal crisis caused by wars and partly overlapping with climatic deterioration.
... Recent models of the adaptation strategies show that the pre-industrial societies have coped with both climate changes and economic di culties 22 . The southern Baltic lowlands is a crucial region to understand the development and expansion of a European identity 23 . In particular, the Medieval crusades played an important role for the development of societies and it is expected that local environments along the routes they used was especially impacted. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Connecting pathways are essential for cultural and economic exchange and play an important role in human life. Commonly, historians investigate the role of routes for cultural development, whereas the environmental consequences of historical route construction attract less attention. Here we present, for the first time, a high-resolution reconstruction of the impact of the major trade route via Marchionis in the southern Baltic lowlands on landscape evolution since its construction more than 800 years ago. We utilize precisely dated annually laminated lake sediments from Lake Czechowskie located alongside Via Marchionis to establish multiproxy data at 5-year resolution for an integrated interpretation with historical data. The transformation from a quasi-natural to a cultural landscape was promoted by the operation of Via Marchionis and occurred in three main phases. Superimposed on the long-term development were repeated interruptions by short-term downturns related to societal crisis caused by wars and partly overlapping with climatic deterioration.
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This paper presents the first quantitative past land cover reconstructions for northern Poland using the Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm (LRA), interpreted alongside traditional percentage pollen data and historical sources. These data are used to evaluate the impact of cultural change on past vegetation and land use in northern Poland during the last 2000 years. Vegetation change and land-use are apparent corresponding to the late Roman Iron Age (1st to 3rd centuries), Migration Period (4th–7th centuries), early Medieval (8th to early 13th centuries) and late medieval (early-13th to mid-15th centuries). The Roman Iron Age is characterized by significant land cover estimates for meadowland, likely part of a broad spectrum agricultural strategy. Widespread depopulation and woodland regrowth characterize the Migration Period, followed by the progressive clearance of woodland from the 7th/8th centuries corresponding to Slavic colonisation. Polish control of the region from the mid-10th century is accompanied by intensification in agricultural land-use. However, archaeological evidence for increasing settlement instability during the 11th/12th centuries is not obviously apparent in the palynological data. This likely reflects the sporadic nature and uneven impact of conflict, but also the difficulty in resolving short-term events in the palynological record. Significant woodland clearance occurred prior to the crusades, with the consequence that there is no clearly identifiable horizon of significant landscape change associated with the arrival of the Teutonic Order. However, large tracts of woodland survived in sparsely populated frontier zones and in areas with poor agricultural soils, managed as part of an extensive provisioning network covering the Teutonic Order's state.
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Abstract. The Eurasian (née European) Modern Pollen Database (EMPD) was established in 2013 to provide a public database of high-quality modern pollen surface samples to help support studies of past climate, land-cover and land-use using fossil pollen. The EMPD is part of, and complementary to, the European Pollen Database (EPD) which contains data on fossil pollen found in Late Quaternary sedimentary archives throughout the Eurasian region. The EPD is in turn part of the rapidly growing Neotoma database, which is now the primary home for global palaeoecological data. This paper describes version 2 of the EMPD in which the number of samples held in the database has been increased by 60 % from 4826 to 8134. Much of the improvement in data coverage has come from Northern Asia, and the database has consequently been renamed the Eurasian Modern Pollen Database to reflect this geographical enlargement. The EMPD can be viewed online using a dedicated mapbased viewer at https://empd2.github.io , and downloaded in a variety of file formats at https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.909130 (Chevalier et al., 2019).
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The Eurasian (née European) Modern Pollen Database (EMPD) was established in 2013 to provide a public database of high-quality modern pollen surface samples to help support studies of past climate, land-cover and land-use using fossil pollen. The EMPD is part of, and complementary to, the European Pollen Database (EPD) which contains data on fossil pollen found in Late Quaternary sedimentary archives throughout the Eurasian region. The EPD is in turn part of the rapidly growing Neotoma database, which is now the primary home for global palaeoecological data. This paper describes version 2 of the EMPD in which the number of samples held in the database has been increased by 60% from 4826 to 8134. Much of the improvement in data coverage has come from Northern Asia, and the database has consequently been renamed the Eurasian Modern Pollen Database to reflect this geographical enlargement. The EMPD can be viewed online using a dedicated mapbased viewer at https://empd2.github.io, and downloaded in a variety of file formats at https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.909130 (Chevalier et al., 2019).
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During the late Iron Age, the eastern Baltic was inhabited by Finno-Ugric and Baltic speaking societies whose territories were conquered in the thirteenth century as a result of the crusades. This paper examines the degree to which indigenous landscapes were transformed as a result of the crusades, and the evidence for maintenance of indigenous land-use practices. Vegetation and land-use history are reconstructed using palynological data from Cēsis castle and its terriitory. Comparison is made with selected palynological, archaeological and documentary data across Livonia (Latvia and Estonia) and contrasted with the greater impact of the crusades in nearby Prussia. Despite the emergence of key power centres in the medieval period, including towns and castles such as Cēsis, many parts of the rural landscape remained largely unchanged by the crusades, particularly in those more marginal landscapes studied in this paper. Lower intensity land-use can be linked to poor agricultural soils but also reflect the limited colonisation of rural landscapes beyond the major towns and castles. Indigenous societies and practices survived to a greater degree, with later agricultural intensification in the fourteenth century reflecting the increasing political stability, growth of urban centres, establishment of serfdom and the development of the manorial system.
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During European states’ development, various past societies utilized natural resources, but their impact was not uniformly spatially and temporally distributed. Considerable changes resulted in landscape fragmentation, especially during the Middle Ages. Changes in state advances that affected the local economy significantly drove trajectories of ecosystems’ development. The legacy of major changes from pristine forest to farming is visible in natural archives as novel ecosystems. Here, we present a high-resolution densely dated multi-proxy study covering the last 1500 years from a peatland located in CE Europe. The economic activity of medieval societies was highly modified by new rulers—the Joannites (the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller). We studied the record of these directorial changes noted in the peat profile. Our research revealed a rapid critical land-use transition in the late Middle Ages and its consequences on the peatland ecosystem. The shift from the virgin forest with regular local fires to agriculture correlates well with the raising of local economy and deforestations. Along with the emerging openness, the wetland switched from alkaline wet fen state to acidic, drier Sphagnum-dominated peatland. Our data show how closely the ecological state of wetlands relates to forest microclimate. We identified a significant impact of the Joannites who used the novel farming organization. Our results revealed the surprisingly fast rate of how feudal economy eliminated pristine nature from the studied area and created novel anthroecosystems.
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The debate on human environmental impact has often been locked into cause-effect reasoning, aiming at factoring human impact on top of climatic variability. Here we use evidence from Minorca and the Mediterranean region to show the potential for amplified environmental change emerging from complex feedbacks between climatic and historical events. Alluvial sediments collected in a gully reveal a 14 to 27-fold increase in sediment accumulation rates, leading to the rapid aggradation of the valley floor from c. AD 1300 onwards. These events concurred with the feudal conquest of the island (AD 1287) and the transition from the so-called Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA, c. AD 900 - 1300) to the Little Ice Age (LIA, c. AD 1300 - 1850). This evidence of unprecedented sediment mobilisation, in context with climatic and historical events marking the Mediterranean region, highlights the implications for environmental vulnerability emerging from positive feedbacks between climate and land-use. Understanding such interactions in historical contexts is paramount to increase our capacity for anticipatory learning in the face of rapid climatic, economical and ecological transformations today.
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The ecological spatial landscape pattern of urban waters is not only a sign of the urbanization process but also a prerequisite for promoting the sustainable development of the city, in order to improve the ecological landscape construction of urban waters and promote the sustainable development of ecological cities, propose a study on the scale effect, and change characteristics of the ecological landscape pattern of urban waters. This study selected two areas composed of four ecological water landscapes in the City of Nanchang as research objects. The landscape elements are obtained through remote sensing technology, and vector machine classification is used to ensure the accuracy of the classification. Quantitative calculations of spatial patterns and characteristics are carried out on the basis of 5 category level indexes and 6 landscape level indexes, and spatial effect analysis is carried out using granularity setting and amplitude changes. For the magnitude effect of the test type level index, the landscapes C and D in zone 1 have peak values, which are 12km and 24km, respectively. The landscapes C and D of area 2 have peaks at 9km and 24km respectively, but the overall trend of change is relatively stable. The growth trend of landscape B in the two study areas is the most obvious, crossing landscape D and landscape A at 15km and 21km respectively. With the increase of particle size, the three types of indexes of NP, PD, and LSI of landscape B and C all show significant particle size effect, and the best particle size is 30m. With the increase in amplitude, the four indexes of PLAND, NP, PD, and LSI have strong amplitude effects. Landscape A gradually increases with the increase of the spatial scope, while the proportion of landscape B, C, and D gradually decreases, and the proportion of landscape D is the smallest. The above results confirm that the method in this paper has good results in the analysis of the scale effect and change characteristics of the urban water ecological landscape pattern, and it has certain reference value in the ecological construction of urban waters.
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Pollen, charcoal and geochemical investigations were carried out on annually laminated sediments of Lake Żabińskie (54°07′54.5″N; 21°59′01.1″E) and the results were combined with historical and climate data to better understand the mechanism behind plant cover transformations. A millennium-long record of environmental history at 6-years time resolution permitted an assessment of vegetation responses to past human impact and climate fluctuations. Our results show that the history of the region with repeated periods of warfare, epidemics, famine and crop failures is well reflected by environmental proxies. Before the Teutonic Order crusade (ad 1230–1283), agricultural activities of the Prussian tribes were conducted at a distance from the studied lake and caused slight disturbances of local forests. A stronger human impact was registered after ca ad 1460. We confirm that co-domination of pine forests with spruce and oak-hornbeam forests on drier habitats as well as the presence of birch and alder woods on wet surfaces near the lake lasted until ad 1610. We identified a transition period of 20 years between ad 1590 and 1610, when forest cover was significantly reduced and the area was partly transformed into open land used for farming activities. The comparison of our data with other pollen datasets from the region confirms significant spatio-temporal differences in the initiation of large-scale woodland clearings in the Great Masurian Lake District. A strong increase in local cultivation was noted after ad 1750 and became even stronger in the period ad 1810–1940. The last 60 years experienced a succession from arable fields and open grasslands to more tree-covered habitats overgrown by birch and alder.
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Connecting pathways are essential for cultural and economic exchange. Commonly, historians investigate the role of routes for cultural development, whereas the environmental impacts of historical routes attract less attention. Here, we present a high-resolution reconstruction of the impact of the major trade route via Marchionis in the southern Baltic lowlands on landscape evolution since more than 800 years. We combine precisely dated annually laminated sediments from Lake Czechowskie alongside via Marchionis and pollen data at 5-year resolution together with historical data. The transformation from a quasi-natural to a cultural landscape occurred in three phases (1) an early phase until the mid-fourteenth century with slowly increasing human impact. (2) an intensification of environmental disturbance until (3) the mid-nineteenth century when via Marchionis became a modern traffic route with strong environmental impacts. Superimposed on the long-term development were repeated interruptions by short-term downturns related to societal crisis and political decisions.
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The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade explores the archaeology and material culture of the crusade against the Prussian tribes in the 13th century, and the subsequent society created by the Teutonic Order which lasted into the 16th century. It provides the first synthesis of the material culture of a unique crusading society created in the south-eastern Baltic region over the course of the 13th century. It encompasses the full range of archaeological data, from standing buildings through to artefacts and ecofacts, integrated with written and artistic sources. The work is sub-divided into broadly chronological themes, beginning with a historical outline, exploring the settlements, castles, towns and landscapes of the Teutonic Order’s theocratic state and concluding with the role of the reconstructed and ruined monuments of medieval Prussia in the modern world in the context of modern Polish culture. This is the first work on the archaeology of medieval Prussia in any language, and is intended as a comprehensive introduction to a period and area of growing interest. This book represents an important contribution to promoting International awareness of the cultural heritage of the Baltic region, which has been rapidly increasing over the last few decades.
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The eastern Baltic region is situated in the southeastern part of the area which was covered by the last Scandinavian glaciation. Four well-dated sediment profiles from sites distributed along a ~330-km north–south transect were analysed for their macrofossil contents. The immigration of tree taxa during the Late-glacial (LG) period, which was the time of environmental change from tundra to woodland in previously glaciated areas, can be determined from these data. The pioneer vegetation in the study area was treeless dwarf shrub tundra with various dominant taxa. The so-called Allerød hemispheric warming permitted the Post-glacial immigration of trees into the southern part of the eastern Baltic region; however, these most probably disappeared during the following cold period, the Younger Dryas/GS-1. The local presence of Betula sect. Albae, Pinus sylvestris, Populus tremula and Picea abies during the LG period in the southern part of the region was confirmed. The northern part of the area presumably remained treeless for the entire LG period. Therefore, until the beginning of the Holocene, the tree line in the eastern Baltic region did not reach beyond 58°N.
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The study compares the local and regional Holocene vegetation dynamics of two sites in eastern Latvia. Both sites show similar trends in vegetation change. Differences were found in local abundances of Betula, Pinus and Picea. Lower amounts of Betula at the local site suggest stronger regional pollen influx into the regional site. The continuous presence of conifer stomata indicates the development of a stand-scale conifer forest at the local site since 5000 cal yr BP. Similar presence and dynamics in thermophilous tree spe-cies at both sites suggest that the pollen values of the regional site may truly show the local presence of thermophilous tree taxa. Apart from general vegetation succession, the strong-est cause for the vegetation differences at both sites were water-level changes, as shown by the peat decomposition rate.
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Abstract. Diatom and pollen records from the deepest part of Lake Ķūži (Vidzeme Heights, Central Latvia) show the history of the lake and its ecosystem responses to changes in the surrounding vegetation during the Holocene. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to compare the timing of the changes in the diatom and pollen assemblages. We found that major changes in the diatom record were contemporaneous with those in the pollen records. At the beginning of the Early Holocene, when the lake was receiving high inputs of mineral matter, no diatoms were found. Around 11 000 cal. BP, when the upland vegetation became established, periphytic diatom taxa (mostly Fragilaria species) prevailed. The Mid-Holocene period (9000–2000 cal. BP) was characterized by Cyclotella spp. and Tabellaria flocculosa, indicating long ice-free seasons and a rather high water level. Picea was a major tree species around the lake 5300–2500 cal. BP and it facilitated acidification of the lake water via the acidification of the soil, indicated by the increase in the acidophilous diatoms Eunotia spp. and T. flocculosa. The Late Holocene (2000–0 cal. BP) is characterized by anthropogenic impacts on both the upland vegetation and lake ecosystem, depicted by the simultaneous increase in Aulacoseira spp., herbaceous pollen such as Poaceae, Secale, and Rumex, and charcoal fragments. With pollen taxa used as predictor and diatom taxa as response variables, Redundancy Analysis (RDA) provided a statistically significant model that explains the variation in the diatom data. Our results show that the diatoms responded strongly to the catchment-driven changes around Lake Ķūži during the entire Holocene.
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The IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon calibration curves have been revised utilizing newly available and updated data sets from 14C measurements on tree rings, plant macrofossils, speleothems, corals, and foraminifera. The calibration curves were derived from the data using the random walk model (RWM) used to generate IntCal09 and Marine09, which has been revised to account for additional uncertainties and error structures. The new curves were ratified at the 21st International Radiocarbon conference in July 2012 and are available as Supplemental Material at www.radiocarbon.org. The database can be accessed at http://intcal.qub.ac.uk/intcal13/. © 2013 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.
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This study was carried out to determine the spatial relationships between environmental factors (Quaternary deposits, topographical situation, land cover, forest site types, tree species, soil texture) and soil groups, and their prefix qualifiers (according to the international Food and Agricultural Organization soil classification system World Reference Base for Soil Resources [FAO WRB]). The results show that it is possible to establish relationships between the distribution of environmental factors and soil groups by applying the generalized linear models in data statistical analysis, using the R 2.11.1 software for processing data from 113 sampling plots throughout the forest territory of Latvia. A very high diversity of soil groups in a relatively similar geological structure was revealed. For various reasons there is not always close relationship between the soil group, their prefix qualifiers and Quaternary deposits, as well as between forest site types, the dominant tree species and specific soil group and its prefix qualifiers. Close correlation was established between Quaternary deposits, forest site types, dominant tree species and soil groups within nutrient-poor sediments and very rich deposits containing free carbonates. No significant relationship was detected between the CORINE Land Cover 2005 classes, topographical situation and soil group.
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During the Pleistocene the territory of Latvia was repeatedly overridden by Scandinavian ice sheets, at least from the Elsterian onwards. Extent limit of all glaciations was located far outside of Latvia. Due to vigorous erosion by subsequent glaciations the Pleistocene record is incomplete. Radiocarbon, cosmogenic nuclide and radiation exposure dating methods have been mainly used only for age determination of the upper part of the Pleistocene sequence. Decay of the Late Weichselian glaciation in Latvia is marked by five major ice-marginal zones
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Aim To assess statistically the relative importance of climate and human impact on forest composition in the late Holocene.Location Estonia, boreonemoral Europe. Methods Data on forest composition (10 most abundant tree and shrub taxa) for the late Holocene (5100–50 calibrated years before 1950) were derived from 18 pollen records and then transformed into land-cover estimates using the REVEALS vegetation reconstruction model. Human impact was quantified with palaeoecological estimates of openness, frequencies of hemerophilous pollen types (taxa growing in habitats influenced by human activities) and microscopic charcoal particles. Climate data generated with the ECBilt-CLIO- VECODE climate model provided summer and winter temperature data. The modelled data were supported by sedimentary stable oxygen isotope (d18O) records. Redundancy analysis (RDA), variation partitioning and linear mixed effects (LME) models were applied for statistical analyses. Results Both climate and human impact were statistically significant predic- tors of forest compositional change during the late Holocene. While climate exerted a dominant influence on forest composition in the beginning of the study period, human impact was the strongest driver of forest composition change in the middle of the study period, c. 4000–2000 years ago, when per- manent agriculture became established and expanded. The late Holocene cool- ing negatively affected populations of nemoral deciduous taxa (Tilia, Corylus, Ulmus, Quercus, Alnus and Fraxinus), allowing boreal taxa (Betula, Salix, Picea and Pinus) to succeed. Whereas human impact has favoured populations of early-successional taxa that colonize abandoned agricultural fields (Betula, Salix, Alnus) or that can grow on less fertile soils (Pinus), it has limited taxa such as Picea that tend to grow on more mesic and fertile soils. Main conclusions Combining palaeoecological and palaeoclimatological data from multiple sources facilitates quantitative characterization of factors driving forest composition dynamics on millennial time-scales. Our results suggest that in addition to the climatic influence on forest composition, the relative abun- dance of individual forest taxa has been significantly influenced by human impact over the last four millennia.
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Today’s cultural landscape is the result of human impact upon natural ecosystems over millenia and, in more recent times, the purposeful creation of a landscape specifically for agricultural production. In densely inhabited regions, i.e. in large parts of Europe, human activity completely masks the natural factors. Thus, it is scarcely possible to recognize natural alterations during later periods using the presently available methods of vegetation history. This applies to central and northern Europe from the Middle Ages onwards and to the Mediterranean area since antiquity.*
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This chapter discusses the deglaciation history of Latvia. The earliest deglaciation schemes of Latvia were based entirely on morphological features. The spatial distribution of glacial landforms, with crests transverse to glacier movement combined with radiocarbon dates and biostratigraphical evidence, have provided the principal data for the reconstruction of the deglaciation process from the mid-1960s until the present. A deglaciation history should be based on multiple criteria. Attention should be paid to the identification of ice-marginal formations, and complex studies are also needed, including the investigation of the spatial distribution and internal composition of subglacial landforms that originated during the reactivation and recession of ice lobes and glacier tongues. The results of geospatial analyses and geological structure of glacial terrain should be supported by palaeoclimatic and environmental reconstructions and age determination by different methods of absolute age determination.
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Palaeobotanical investigations were carried out with the aim of reconstructing the development of palaeovegetation and formation of sediments in the northeastern area of ancient Lake Burtnieks. Pollen and plant macroremain studies provide information on vegetation development in the surroundings of the lake, including Stone Age settlements of Braukšas I and Braukšas II. Results of the investigations indicate that the development of vegetation together with sedimentation conditions in the palaeolake have changed since the Younger Dryas until today. Vegetation composition varies in different parts of the ancient Lake Burtnieks area due to past changes in lake water level which reached different sites at different times. Data from the northern part of ancient Lake Burtnieks indicate its gradual overgrowing since the Preboreal. Deposition of minerogenic lacustrine sediments (silt, clayey silt and sand) lasted until the Boreal or the Atlantic time, depending on the water depth of the lake locality. Clastic sediments were overlain by gyttja, which in turn was later covered by well-decomposed fen (sedge, sedge–grass) peat that started to form at the end of Atlantic time. Pollen and plant macroremain composition of lacustrine sediments and fen peat sequences suggests that people have inhabited the area since Preboreal–Boreal times. However, weak traces of possible presence of people are found already at the very end of the Younger Dryas. . Fluctuating curves of broadleaved tree pollen, a significant amount of pollen of cultivated plants and charcoal dust in sediments indicate activities of an early man and refer to start of crop growing in the area in the second half of the Atlantic chronozone.
Article
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Peat record from a very small basin, the former mire of Verevainu, in the nearest vicinity of ancient Keava settlements (8th−11th centuries) and hillforts (5th–13th centuries), was investigated by means of palaeoecological approach, namely by pollen, charcoal, and loss-on-ignition analyses and radiocarbon dating. The study aimed at ascertaining the appearance of prehistoric man in the area and reconstructing the local vegetation history and human impact on the environment around the inhabitation centre. The first sporadic cereal pollen grains appeared in the sediments in the Late Bronze Age at ca 1500 BC. Both peat ignition residue values as indicators of topsoil erosion and pollen evidence suggest forest clearance, opening of landscape, and cultivation of cereals from the Pre-Roman Iron Age. Approximately at AD 350–500 the rate of human impact upon environment increased notably.
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Heikkilä, M. & Seppä, H. 2010: Holocene climate dynamics in Latvia, eastern Baltic region: a pollen-based summer temperature reconstruction and regional comparison. Boreas, Vol. 39, pp. 705–719. 10.1111/j.1502-3885.2010.00164.x. ISSN 0300-9483. A pollen-based summer temperature (Tsummer) reconstruction reveals the Holocene climate history in southeastern Latvia and contributes to the limited understanding of past climate behaviour in the eastern sector of northern Europe. Notably, steady climate warming of the early Holocene was interrupted c. 8350–8150 cal. yr BP by the well-known 8.2 ka cold event, recorded as a decrease of 0.9 to 1.8 °C in Tsummer. During the Holocene Thermal Maximum, c. 8000–4000 cal. yr BP, the reconstructed summer temperature was ∼2.5–3.5 °C higher than the modern reconstructed value, and subsequently declined towards present-day values. Comparison of the current reconstruction with other pollen-based reconstructions in northern Europe shows that the 8.2 ka event is particularly clearly reflected in the Baltic region, possibly as a result of distinct climatic and ecological gradients and the sensitivity of the vegetation growth pattern to seasonal temperature change. The new reconstruction also reveals that the Holocene Thermal Maximum was warmer in Latvia than in central Europe and Fennoscandia. In fact, a gradient of increasing positive temperature anomalies is detected from northernmost Fennoscandia towards the south and from the Atlantic coast in Norway towards the continental East European Plain. The dynamics of the temperate broadleaved tree species Tilia and Quercus in Latvia and adjacent northern Europe during the mid-Holocene give complementary information on the multifaceted climatic and environmental changes in the region.
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A sharp increase in human population density and the same time fundamental changes in the location of settlement, moving away from earlier inhabited places points to significant changes in the environment. This period with a sharp decrease in anthropogenic indicators and poor records of slash and burn cultivation and field crop-growing is named “transition” period (Vasks et.al.1998) and indicates the lack of stable and continuous inhabitant sites. This phenomena can be explained by the small size of settlements at the Early Iron Age, expressed by a weak cultural layer and these could be defined as separate farmsteads. Modern farming practices, especially modern tillage, adversely affected the preservation of these settlements. Pollen and plant macrofossil analyses were used as tool to discover traces of human activity and environmental changes during the Early Metal Period.
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Multi-proxy studies are becoming increasingly common in palaeolimnology. Eight basic requirements and challenges for a multi-proxy study are outlined in this essay – definition of research questions, leadership, site selection and coring, data storage, chronology, presentation of results, numerical tools and data interpretation. The nature of proxy data is discussed in terms of physical proxies and biotic proxies. Loss-on-ignition changes and the use of transfer functions are reviewed as examples of problems in the interpretation of data from multi-proxy studies. The importance of pollen analysis and plant macrofossil analysis in multi-proxy studies is emphasised as lake history cannot be interpreted without knowledge of catchment history. Future directions are outlined about how multi-proxy studies can contribute to understanding biotic responses to environmental change.
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Data from 59 sequences studied through pollen analysis were used to examine the decline in Alnus in Estonia during the Iron Age. Between a.d.300 and 1300, the Alnus pollen frequency declined markedly in 30 records distributed evenly across the investigated area. The beginning of the decline was time transgressive, coincidental with the start of extensive cultivation, and was frequently connected with the commencement of rye cultivation and the availability of land suitable for cultivation. The greatest reduction in Alnus abundance occurred during the Late Iron Age between a.d.900 and 1000. This spatially random asynchrony suggests that one or more factors affected Alnus populations across the whole northern region. Human impact is discussed as a plausible cause of the decline. To determine the initiation of extensive crop farming in the eastern Baltic area, pollen diagrams from Latvia, Lithuania and the Novgorod region were also examined.
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Based on palaeolimnological investigations on a 1275 cm long lacustrine sediment record, sediment yields (SY) and denudation rates (DR) for the last 2000 years were reconstructed from Frickenhauser See, a small lake in central Germany. SY and DR generally correspond with the human land-use history derived from pollen analysis and reveal a drastic interruption of natural processes starting in the eleventh century AD. SY increased over 350-fold from 0.9 t/km2 per yr to 328 t/km2 per yr in response to deforestation and subsequent soil erosion. The average denudation rate within the catchment area is 81 mm for the last 2000 years, most of which occurred between AD 1100 and 1870. Taking into account that only one-third of the catchment area is suitable for agriculture, the cumulative soil loss from agricultural fields is around 240 mm (0.31 mm/yr). Historical events such as a widespread abandonment period (AD 1300—1450) and the Thirty Years War (AD 1618—1648) are reflected in the pollen record but cause only minor fluctuations in reconstructed sediment yields. This study demonstrates that by applying a multiproxy approach lacustrine sediments provide an excellent archive to reconstruct the effects of human land use on the geomorphological process system and to identify human—environment interactions.
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The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia, written by a missionary priest in the early thirteenth century to record the history of the crusades to Livonia and Estonia around 1186-1227, offers one of the most vivid examples of the early thirteenth century crusading ideology in practice. Step by step, it has become one of the most widely read and acknowledged frontier crusading and missionary chronicles. Henry's chronicle offers many opportunities to test and broaden the new approaches and key concepts brought along by recent developments in medieval studies, including the new pluralist definition of crusading and the relationship between the peripheries and core areas of Europe. While recent years have produced a significant amount of new research into Henry of Livonia, much of it has been limited to particular historical traditions and languages. A key objective of this book, therefore, is to synthesise the current state of research for the international scholarly audience. The volume provides a multi-sided and multi-disciplinary companion to the chronicle, and is divided into three parts. The first part, 'Representations,' brings into focus the imaginary sphere of the chronicle - the various images brought into existence by the amalgamation of crusading and missionary ideology and the frontier experience. This is followed by studies on 'Practices,' which examines the chronicle's reflections of the diplomatic, religious, and military practices of the christianisation and colonisation processes in medieval Livonia. The volume concludes with a section on the 'Appropriations,' which maps the reception history of the chronicle: the dynamics of the medieval, early modern and modern national uses and abuses of the text. © Marek Tamm, Linda Kaljundi, Carsten Selch Jensen and the Contributors 2011. All rights reserved.
Article
The pollen stratigraphical and lithological data obtained from Lake Lasva, southern Estonia, are summarized. The land-use and vegetation history during the last 6300 years in an agricultural area with dense prehistoric setting is discussed. A high sedimentation rate and laminated structure of lake deposits enabled high-resolution palaeobotanical study of a 985 cm long core. Accelerator mass spectrometry 14C dates show good linearity and fit wed with varve counts. Up to ca 2900 years BP, birch, pine, spruce and broad-leaved species, later mostly birch, pine and alder, grew in that area. The first weak signs of human impact were traced at 6300 years BP. Human activities were more pronounced between 5400-5100 and 3800-3500 years ago, due to the foundation of Neolithic settlements not far from the lake. The first attempt of small-scale tillage, detected from the first finds of Triticum pollen, followed by a long-term gap, dates back to 5100 years BP. Crop cultivation (Cannabis, Hordeum, Triticum and Secale) became the main means of subsistence not until the Iron Age at about 1600-1400 years ago, but extensive arable farming started to develop 800 years ago, after the German crusaders invaded the area. Pollen diagrams display several setbacks in arable farming, mostly caused by crop fadure due to climate deterioration and decrease in the population caused by famines, wars and epidemics.
Article
Holocene sediment profile from a paludified near-shore area of Lake Ķūži (Vidzeme Heights, Central Latvia) was investigated using lithological and palaeobotanical (pollen and macrofossil analysis) methods and accelerator mass spectrometry AMS 14C dating. The results of this first comprehensive study of a Holocene sediment core from the Vidzeme Heights indicate that at the beginning of the Early and at the end of the Late Holocene the lake level was low and fen peat accumulated around the lake. From ca. 9000 BP up to 1500 BP the mire was flooded and gyttja with interlayers of sand and peat accumulated. The water level fluctuations are clearly represented in the lithological succession and pollen spectra. We compared the L. Ķūži pollen diagram with well-studied sites from the Haanja Heights, which have a similar genesis. The most obvious difference in these diagrams is the earlier appearance (9200 BP) of Picea pollen in the L. Ķūži profile and its dominance up to 1000 BP. Comparative analysis of the lithology and pollen spectra from L. Ķūži and reference profiles from the Haanja Heights indicate the importance of broad regional factors in influencing the pollen spectra.
Chapter
This article reviews pollen analysis as a tool to reconstruct past human impact on vegetation, past land use, and past cultural landscapes. It presents and discusses the different interpretive approaches that have been – and still are – used to translate pollen data in terms of human impact and cultural landscape history. A large number of excellent identification keys published since 1976 have greatly increased our ability to record pollen from species or groups of species that have a high indicator value for human-induced vegetation types. Expert pollen identification combined with the careful use of the indicator-species approach has been shown to be very successful in recording past human impact and land uses. For this purpose, a detailed and largely exhaustive list of human-impact pollen indicators for Europe is presented. The precision of the interpretation may be further improved by the application of the comparative approach in which past pollen assemblages are compared to modern ones in traditional human-induced, well-characterized vegetation types. Pollen analysis also has a great potential to reconstruct past human landscapes in quantitative terms. The recent developments within the use of models of pollen dispersal and deposition, and within the software needed in model applications, represent important progress in the quantitative pollen-based reconstruction of the actual abundance (in percentage cover) of major taxa and land-cover units, for example, wooded versus deforested, or arable versus grazing land, at both regional and local spatial scales.
Article
The history of the medieval Baltic is dominated by the crusading movement of the 13th to 15th centuries. The crusades resulted in significant changes to the organisation, ownership and administration of the landscape, with a significant shift in patterns of land use. However, our understanding of the environmental impact of the crusades has been almost exclusively informed by written sources. This paper synthesises existing palynological evidence for medieval landscape transformation in the southeast and eastern Baltic, focusing on the ecological impact of the crusading movement, and considers some key questions, challenges and priorities for future research.
Article
This study represents the first detailed multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental investigation associated with a Late Iron Age lake-dwelling site in the eastern Baltic. The main objective was to reconstruct the environmental and vegetation dynamics associated with the establishment of the lake-dwelling and land-use during the last 2,000 years. A lacustrine sediment core located adjacent to a Late Iron Age lake-dwelling, medieval castle and Post-medieval manor was sampled in Lake Āraiši. The core was dated using spheroidal fly-ash particles and radiocarbon dating, and analysed in terms of pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, diatoms, loss-on-ignition, magnetic susceptibility and element geochemistry. Associations between pollen and other proxies were statistically tested. During ad 1–700, the vicinity of Lake Āraiši was covered by forests and human activities were only small-scale with the first appearance of cereal pollen (Triticum and Secale cereale) after ad 400. The most significant changes in vegetation and environment occurred with the establishment of the lake-dwelling around ad 780 when the immediate surroundings of the lake were cleared for agriculture, and within the lake there were increased nutrient levels. The highest accumulation rates of coprophilous fungi coincide with the occupation of the lake-dwelling from ad 780–1050, indicating that parts of the dwelling functioned as byres for livestock. The conquest of tribal lands during the crusades resulted in changes to the ownership, administration and organisation of the land, but our results indicate that the form and type of agriculture and land-use continued much as it had during the preceding Late Iron Age.
Article
Pollen analysis of sediments from three lakes and analysis of plant macroremains including charcoal from archaeological sites in the Mazurian Lake District provide new data for the reconstruction of vegetation changes related to human activity between the 1st and 13th century ad. At that time settlements of the Bogaczewo culture (from the turn of the 1st century ad to the first part of the 5th century ad), the Olsztyn Group (second part of the 5th century ad to the 7th or beginning of the 8th century ad), and the Prussian Galinditae tribes (8th/9th-13th century ad) developed. The most intensive woodland clearing occurred between the 1st and 6th/7th century ad. Presence of Cerealia-type, Secale cereale and Cannabis-type pollen, as well as macroremains of Hordeum vulgare, S. cereale, Triticum spelta, T. cf. monococcum, T. cf. dicoccum, Avena sp. and Panicum miliaceum documented local agriculture. High Betula representation synchronous with microcharcoal occurrence suggests shifting agriculture. After forest regeneration between c. ad 650 and 1100, the area was strongly deforested due to the early medieval occupation by Prussian tribes. The archaeobotanical examination of samples taken in a cemetery and a large settlement of the Roman Iron Age revealed strong differences in the taxonomic composition of the fossil plant remains. An absolute dominance of birch charcoal in the samples from the cemetery indicates its selective use for funeral pyre construction. There is a difference between cereals found in both contexts: numerous grains of Triticum have been found in the cemetery, while in the settlement crops were represented mostly by Secale and Hordeum. Grass tubers, belonging probably to Phleum pratense, are among the particularly interesting plant remains found in the cemetery.
Book
A masterly compendium on the study of water sediment movement in the past, this handbook encompasses the palaeohydrology of the temperature zone over the last 15,000 years. The book begins with the theoretical background to environment change, examining relationships between physical and biological environments and how they are affected by changes in climate, hydrology and human impact. Then, the material focuses on the research strategy applied to palaeoecological studies of lakes and mires. The final section discusses the numerical treatment of biostratigraphical data.
Article
Age–depth models form the backbone of most palaeoenvironmental studies. However, procedures for constructing chronologies vary between studies, they are usually not explained sufficiently, and some are inadequate for handling calibrated radiocarbon dates. An alternative method based on importance sampling through calibrated dates is proposed. Dedicated R code is presented which works with calibrated radiocarbon as well as other dates, and provides a simple, systematic, transparent, documented and customizable alternative. The code automatically produces age–depth models, enabling exploration of the impacts of different assumptions (e.g., model type, hiatuses, age offsets, outliers, and extrapolation).
Article
Microcharcoal records of sedimentary archives are helpful to estimate the impacts of past forest fires on vegetation, but may also be used to reconstruct the impact of carbon dioxide released by forest fires on global atmospheric CO 2 concentration. we suggest that if mi-crocharcoal concentration of sediment samples is estimated using pollen slides, then it would be sufficient to count the particles instead of measuring their area with sophisticated techniques and obtained minimum count sums to guarantee a good degree of accuracy.
Article
Aims  Our aim is to reconstruct decadal scale development of historical landscapes during the last 1000 years by means of fossil pollen analysis of annually laminated lake sediments, and detailed historical maps and documents.Location  Lake Rõuge Tõugjärv (Estonia), a small lake with annually laminated lake sediments situated in a dense prehistoric setting.Methods  The chronology of the palaeodata is based on the annual laminations supported by AMS 14C and 210Pb dating and 137Cs, 241Am, and spheroidal carbonaceous particle marker horizons. The time-scale and resolution allows fine sampling (the pollen samples generally comprise 3.5 years) and vegetation change reconstruction. Relevant source area of pollen (RSAP) of the lake was estimated, and the statistical zonation, rate of change, palynological richness, and DCA and PCA ordinations were generated on the basis of the pollen data. The historical calibration data set (maps, numerical information on population, domestic stock, farmland division, etc.) is based on archival material preserved in the Estonian Historical Archives.Results  The topmost part (0–180 cm) of the sediment column of Lake Rõuge Tõugjärv, covering the last 1000 years, is visibly laminated carbonaceous gyttja. The varve chronology extends from ad 2000 to ad 1339, with a cumulative ± 9-year error estimate. Beyond this the chronology is extrapolated using the 14C date and varve age–depth estimations. The simulation of the RSAP of Lake Tõugjärv shows that the major portion of the pollen loading originating from local vegetation is derived from plants growing within 2000 m of the sampling site. The pollen record divides into five statistically significant subgroups, which fall on the PCA plot into three clusters reflecting the general openness–closedness of the landscape. During the period between ad 1000 and 1200 (RT 1) the Rõuge area was generally wooded with birch, spruce and pine forests. The advancement of extensive farming gradually opened up the landscape between ad 1200 and 1650 (RT 2 and RT 3). The maximum openness of the landscape was reached between ad 1650 and 1875 (RT 4), with the most open period in the late eighteenth century. Historical maps from 1684 and 1870–99 and available quantitative data on population, domestic stock, farmland division, etc. show the same trend. The pollen data covering the last 125 years, and maps from 1935 and 1995, show the reduction of arable land in RSAP of the lake under investigation and the reduction of open land to an extent comparable with the end of the seventeenth century.Main conclusions  The formation and development of the cultural landscape at Rõuge over the last 1000 years is characterized by rapid changes in floristic richness and rates of vegetation change attributed to certain historic processes in the RSAP. Five phases of landscape and social development are clearly distinguished during the last 1000 years. The decadal scale vegetation response to human-induced forcing agrees with historical maps and documents and could be used for past landscapes prior to the period with solid historical data.
Article
The sediment stratigraphy of a medium-sized mixotrophic lake (Ruila) situated below the highest shoreline of the Baltic Ice Lake in the West-Estonian Lowland is described. The lake is without natural inlets our outlets. The reconstruction of vegetation and land-use history based on pollen data, combined with available archaeological data and detailed 14C dating allows us to give a provisional reconstruction of the temporal and spatial pattern of natural and human induced environmental changes in north-west Estonia during the Holocene. Both radiocarbon dates derived from terrestrial macrofossil dating by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) and conventional dating of bulk lake sediment are discussed. The isolation of the lake basin from the Yoldia Sea took place ca. 9700 cal B. C. The Ancylus Lake transgression at ca. 8400 cal B. C. did not reach the basin, but caused a ground water rise, seen in the sediment stratigraphy of the lake. The first signs of human impact on the pollen record appear ca. 5400 cal B. C. (Late Mesolithic). The history of arable farming has been divided into three periods: 1) introduction of crop cultivation and animal husbandry (1500 cal B. C. – A. D. 500); 2) establishment of animal husbandry A. D. 500–1000) and 3) establishment of crop cultivation and intensive cattle breeding (A. D. 1000–today). Due to unfavourable eda-phic conditions the introduction of arable farming was delayed for more than 1000 years compared with elsewhere on the north coast of Esotnia, and intensity of land-use never reached the same proportion as in these areas.
Article
High-resolution pollen profiles based on 30 cores taken from Estonian lake and mire deposits were used to reconstruct the extent and type of land-use over most of the Holocene. Biostratigraphical studies combining pollen records, archaeological investigations, conventional and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dates and numerical analysis were used to detect human impact on the landscape and vegetation. Indications of human activity were traced back to the Mesolithic (9000–4900 cal. BC) and are reflected in the pollen diagram by a wide range of anthropogenic indicators, which constitute nearly half of the total pollen sum, together with high charcoal content. Human impact during the Mesolithic is also indicated by the rarefaction analysis, which shows a doubling of palynological diversity. The Neolithic (4900–1800 cal. BC) is regarded as a transitional period between the pre-agrarian Mesolithic and the agrarian Bronze Age (1800–500 cal. BC). Changes in vegetation composition attributed to Late Mesolithic (6400–4900 cal. BC) land-use were found in several of the sites investigated. Pollen records display the development and intensive use of a pastoral landscape in the Middle Neolithic (4150–3200 cal. BC), expressed in pollen diagrams as a drop in the frequencies of broad-leaved trees and an increase in Picea abies, herb pollen and palynological diversity and in some cases increase in charcoal frequencies. Primitive tillage probably occurred during the Middle Neolithic, at least in the alvar (flat terrain with a thin soil cover on carbonaceous bedrock) and coastal areas of Estonia. The earliest Cerealia pollen finds are dated to ca. 4000 cal. BC and represented by Avena-type and Hordeum-type pollen. During the Bronze Age, crop cultivation played an important role in the farming economy. The beginning of crop cultivation in Estonia was almost simultaneous with southern Sweden, but more than 1000 years earlier than in Finland. The adoption of arable farming in Estonia occurred much later than in southern Sweden.
Atskats Trikātas novada senatnē. Rīga: A. Gulbja izdevniecība
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Enzeliņš H (1931) Atskats Trikātas novada senatnē. Rīga: A. Gulbja izdevniecība.
Skati Valmieras pilsētas, draudzes un novada pagātnē. Valmiera: Kooperatīvā sabiedrība 'Zeme
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Enzeliņš H (1932) Skati Valmieras pilsētas, draudzes un novada pagātnē. Valmiera: Kooperatīvā sabiedrība 'Zeme'.
Early Metal period The Prehistory of Latvia. Rīga: Institute of the History of Latvia
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Graudonis J (2001) Early Metal period. In: Graudonis J (ed.) The Prehistory of Latvia. Rīga: Institute of the History of Latvia, p. 463.
Estonia from the 13th to 16th centuries
  • T Kala
Kala T (2005) Estonia from the 13th to 16th centuries. In: Subrenat JJ (ed.) Estonia: Identity and Independence. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi BV, pp. 47-64.
Viduslaiku ciems un pils Salaspils novadā. Rīga: Latvijas vēstures institūta apgāds
  • E Mugurēvičs
Mugurēvičs E (2008) Viduslaiku ciems un pils Salaspils novadā. Rīga: Latvijas vēstures institūta apgāds, 262 pp.
Ceļvedis Latvijas Senvēsturē
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