PosterPDF Available

Geoarchaeological studies of a Middle-Neolithic circular enclosure near Velm, eastern Austria (EGU 2018 poster)



Poster presented at the EGU General Assembly 2018 in Vienna
1. The circular enclosure (Kreisgrabenanlage) of Velm
Located in the southern Vienna Basin, in a region and landscape setting untypical for circular enclosures
Detected in the year 2000 by archaeological prospection via aerial photography
Dates to the beginning of the 5th millenium BC, during the time of the Middle-Neolithic Lengyel culture
The first circular enclosure successfully measured by prospection via Ground-Penetrating-Radar (GPR)
GPR images show reflecting signals between 1.3 and 1.7 meter depth inside the infillings of the post holes
belonging to the palisade of the structure as well as adjacent buildings dating to the same time (Fig. 1)
Can geoarchaeological prospections (i.e. coring) explain the reflections seen by GPR?
What is the general (geo)archaeological potential of minimal-invasive sampling, like coring,
on such structures? Fig. 1: GPR of the circular enclosure with reflecting post holes
3. Preliminary results
Cores from the post holes show typical infillings of layered sediments made out of silty and/or gravely material
Core 12 shows increased cementation at around 90 cm depth (including thickness of top soil)
The core samples of the outer ditch (core 9) show typical ditch infillings at the lower 2 meters expected from a
site situated in an alluvial environment (slope wash in the form of gravelly sand or silt)
The third meter of core 9 shows layers of clayey, low-energy water-lain sediments with signs of lamination and
organic residues, similar to sediments from low-energy fluvial or limnic environments
14C-Dating of the organic inclusions in the clayey laminated layers date to the end of the last glacial period
(from Allerød oscillation to Younger Dryas)
First microscopic analyses of the organic residues from the Younger Dryas show pollen- and microfossil
accumulations of charcoal particles and the fungal spores of Glomus cf. fasciculatum beside pollen of Pinus,
Betula and ferns, typical of tundra vegetation
Glomus cf. fasciculatum
2. Methods
Vibracore samples inside two post holes from the palisade and one
from a building were retrieved (Fig. 2)
For core 12, taken from a post hole with particular strong reflection,
the topsoil was first manually removed for precise sampling (Fig. 3)
In addition, one sample from the outermost ditch of the circular
enclosure (core 9) was also taken
Sediments found inside the cores were described by grain-size,
color (via Munsell soil-color-chart), inclusions and other features of
peculiar nature
A grant by the University of Vienna secured funding for 14C-Dating
and additional analyses
4. Interpretation
The layer of cementation in core 12 can be linked to the strong reflection seen by GPR the discrepancy in height (about 50 cm) is to be
expected by the depth measurement of the GPR
14C-Dating indicates that the sediments in the third meter of core 9 are much older (about six to five thousand years) than the circular
enclosure. That makes the absolute depth of the ditch not deeper than two meters, which is relatively shallow for ditches belonging to
circular enclosures with regular depths of four to five meters → probably unfinished structure?
Limnic sediments at the third meter may hint at a buried wetland under a sheet of holocene gravel sediments, dating to the uppermost
The appearance of charcoal particles as fire indicator relates to a potential human presence in the landscape during the Upper Paleolithic
with spores of erosion-indicating fungi Glomus serving as a proxy for increased soil erosion during the same time → possible human impact?
Fig. 2: Position of the core samples
Fig. 3: Topsoil removal over the position of core 12
Lenneis, E., Neugebauer-Maresch, C., & Ruttkay, E. (1995). Jungsteinzeit im Osten Österreichs. St. Pölten: Verlag Niederösterreichisches Pressehaus.
Neubauer, W., Doneus, M., Eder-Hinterleitner, A., Melichar, P., Löcker, K., & Eichert, S. (2004). Geophysikalisch-archäologische Prospektion von mittelneolithischen
Kreisgrabenanlagen in Niederösterreich. Archeo Prospections.
Wallner M., Valdelomar J. T., Trinks I., Doneus M., Neubauer W., Schiel H., Trausmuth T., Vonkilch A. & Hinterleitner A. (2017). Unique details on the structural elements of a
neolithic site in Velm, Lower Austria - The necessity of integrated prospection and visualization in archaeological prospection.
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