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Implications of a 15,000 year peat record for understanding past environmental changes in western Bavaria (Germany)

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For this study, a two-meter-long core was retrieved from a peat-accumulating fen area in the Unterzeller Bachtal in Dasing (Bavaria, Germany) and analyzed with a palaeoecological focus. The aim of this project is the investigation of the evolution of the natural and cultural landscape, the reconstruction of the local fen development and the influence of the settlement history on the local vegetation. For this purpose, pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs and charred particles were counted, and a screening of macro-remains was conducted. Age modelling revealed a basal age of about 15,000 cal. yr BP. Additionally, a geoelectric measurement with Earth Resistivity Tomography (ERT) was conducted to show the structure of the peat deposit down to three meter depth. The results highlight the initial alder dominated fen formation during the Late Pleistocene to the Early Holocene. First human impact becomes evident within the Late Mesolithic Period. Local marshy conditions can be reconstructed for the Roman period, when road construction works in the Unterzeller Bachtal were undergone. Our study reveals that former peatlands are good archives for the investigation of past environmental conditions, by the use of different proxies.
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Bericht der Bayerischen Bodendenkmalpflege 60, 2019 9
1 Institut für Geographiedidaktik, Universität zu Köln, Gronewaldstr. 2, 50931 Köln (corresponding author: Katrin Geiger,
Email: geigerk@smail.uni-koeln.de)
2 Geographisches Institut Heidelberg, Universität Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 348, 69120 Heidelberg
 3 BayerischesLandesamtfürDenkmalpege,Klosterberg8,86672Thierhaupten
 4 BürofürGeo-Ressourcen,Max-Planck-Straße4,81675München
Implications of a 15,000 year peat record for understanding past
environmental changes in western Bavaria (Germany)
Von Katrin Geiger1, Karsten Schittek1, Bertil Mächtle2, Wolfgang Czysz3, Wolfgang Schmid4 and
Frank Schäbitz1
ABSTRACT
For this study, a two-meter-long core was retrieved
from a peat-accumulating fen area in the Unterzeller
Bachtal in Dasing (Bavaria, Germany) and analyzed
withapalaeoecologicalfocus.Theaimofthis project
is the investigation of the evolution of the natural and
cultural landscape, the reconstruction of the local fen
developmentandtheinuenceofthesettlementhistory
on the local vegetation. For this purpose, pollen, non-
pollen palynomorphs and charred particles were coun-
ted, and a screening of macro-remains was conducted.
Age modelling revealed a basal age of about 15,000 cal.
yr BP. Additionally, a geoelectric measurement with
EarthResistivityTomography(ERT)wasconductedto
show the structure of the peat deposit down to three-
meter depth. The results highlight the initial alder-
dominated fen formation during the Late Pleistocene to
the Early Holocene. First human impact becomes evi-
dent within the Late Mesolithic Period. Local marshy
conditions can be reconstructed for the Roman period,
when road construction works in the Unterzeller Bach-
tal were undergone. Our study reveals that former peat-
lands are good archives for the investigation of past en-
vironmental conditions, by the use of different proxies.
ZUSAMMENFASSUNG
Für diese Studie wurde ein 2 m langer Bohrkern aus
einem torfakkumulierenden Niedermoor im Unterzeller
Bachtal bei Dasing (Bayern, Deutschland) gewonnen,
der mit einem paläoökologischen Fokus analysiert wur-
de.ZieldesProjektesistes,dieEntwicklungderNatur-
und Kulturlandschaft, die Rekonstruktion der lokalen
Moorentwicklung und den Einuss der Siedlungsge-
schichte auf die lokale Vegetation zu untersuchen. Zu
diesem Zweck wurden Pollen, Nicht-Pollen-Palynomor-
phe und Holzkohlepartikel gezählt und ein Screening
der Makroreste durchgeführt. Radiokarbon-Altersmo-
dellierungen ergaben ein Basisalter von ca. 15.000 cal.
Jahren BP. Zusätzlich wurde eine Messung mittels elek-
trischer Widerstandstomograe durchgeführt, bei der
tiefere und ältere Torfablagerungenbis zu einer Tiefe
von 3 m nachgewiesen wurden. Die Ergebnisse bele-
gen die anfängliche, von Erlen dominierte Moorbildung
während des späten Pleistozäns bis zum frühen Holo-
zän. Erstemenschliche EinüssezeigensichimSpät-
mesolithikum. Während des Baus einer Römerstraße
im Unterzeller Bachtal waren die örtlichen Bedingun-
gensumpg.UnsereErgebnissezeigen,dasssichauch
reliktäreTorfarealegutfürdieErforschungvergange-
ner Umweltbedingungen eignen. Die von uns analy-
sierte Lokalität im Unterzeller Bachtal in Dasing eignet
sich hervorragend für paläoökologische Analysen mit
verschiedenen Proxys.
INTRODUCTION
TheTertiaryHills ofLowerBavariaarestillcharac-
terized by a noticeable scarcity of modern palaeoecolo-
gical/geoarchaeological studies. Here, we present new
AMS-radiocarbon-dated results of a peat core extracted
from Unterzeller Bachtal (Figure 1) near Dasing (Bava-
ria, Germany), including pollen analysis and a screening
ofmacro-remains.Earth-ResistivityTomography(ERT)
measurements were performed as a transect crossing the
peat deposits as well as a buried Roman road bed, which
crosses the former peat-accumulating area.
On behalf of the Bavarian State Department of Monu-
mentsandSites(Thierhaupten),asingle2mlongcore
was retrieved from an undisturbed area of a drilling
transect, which was to investigate the bedding of the
ancient Roman road on top of the peat sediment within
thevalley.ThementionedRomanroadsectionisabout
1,5 km long and connected the Roman cities from which
the later cities of Augsburg and Passau (both Germany),
Wels and Linz (both Austria) had originated (Czysz &
Schmid 2013).
Archaeological ndings, including a Merovingian
water mill in Dasing (Czysz 1998, 2016), the conserved
wooden substructure of the Roman road and the pre-
sence of a fen peat below the road, offered promising
pre-requisites for further research on the human-envi-
ronmental history in the area.
Only few investigations with a focus on the human
impact or of modern AMS-radiocarbon-dated sedimen-
tary archives are available for this region (e.g. Stoja-
kowits & Friedman n 2016, Friedman n & Stojakowits
2014, Czysz & Schmid 2013, Peters 2010). Older analy-
sesmaybeused(e.g.Langer1961,Bakels1978,Kort-
funke 1992), but with discounts concerning the resolu-
tion of pollen counts and age control.
10 katrin geiger et al.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
TheUnterzellerBachinDasing,Germany(48°22’N,
11°3‘,~480m.a.s.l.),intheBavarianAlpineforeland,is
acreek,whichoriginatesinWulfertshausenandows
intothe riverPaarnear Dasing.TheUnterzeller Bach
ischaracterizedbyepisodicchannelow.Itissupplied
from surface-near groundwater in the area of Unterzell
(Czysz&Schmid2013).Thevalleycontainswideopen
meadows with a width of nearly 120 m where the Ro-
man road crosses, with soft transitions to the slopes of
the Tertiary h ills of Lower Bavaria. The hillslopes at
the site are overlaid by Quaternary sediments that con-
tainstructuresofsoliuction,whicharecoveredbythin
layers of loess-clay-sediments (Czysz & Schmid 2013).
Theinvestigatedfenisarelicofaoncemoreextensive
wetlandwithinthevalley.Therelicfenismainlyfedby
lateralslope-waterinow.
Drilling was performed with a set of single corings ar-
rangedinatransectusingpercussiondrilling.Thecores
were taken in July 2011, on behalf of the Bavarian State
OfceforthePreservationofMonuments(Thierhaup-
ten, W. Czysz), by the Büro für Geo-Ressourcen Dr.
W. Schmid (Munich) in cooperation with the company
EnsaW.Schroll+PartnerGmbH(Munich).Twelvese-
diment cores (RKS 1–12) were retrieved with a maxi-
mumdepthof2mbelowsurface,respectively.These-
diment was caught in PVC-liners, 63 mm in diameter,
sealedandstoredat5°C.
Sample preparation for pollen analysis and for a ma-
crofossil screening were carried out in the paleoeco-
logy laboratory of the Institute of Geography Educa-
Figure1.MapofGermany.ThesitenearthevillageofDasing(framed)islocatednearAugsburgintheBavarianAlpinefore-
land(mapsource:GingkoMaps,GoogleEarth,modied).Moredetailsandmapstowardsthedrillinglocationarepresentedin
Czysz & Schmid (2013).
environmental changes 11
tion(UniversityofCologne).Thelaboratoryworkfollo-
wed the standard preparation protocol for pollen analy-
sis, based on the recommendations of Faegri & Iversen
(1989). For microfossil and macrofossil analysis, 61
samples of 1 cm³ volume were taken from the core seg-
ments of RKS 2. 49 of them were taken at 4 cm intervals
over the whole core, whereas 12 samples were taken la-
ter in 1 cm intervals within the upper 16 cm for a subse-
quent higher resolution of this section.
Counting of pollen grains was performed using a
transmitted-light microscope with objective lens 40x
(ocular 10x/18). A total sum of 300 pollen per sample
was counted. Pollen of trees, shrubs, herbs and grass
pollen were included into t he sum. For identication,
the key illustrations of Beug (2004), Reille (1998), Moo-
re,Webb&Collinson(1991),andanInstitute’sownre-
ference collection were used.
For macrofossil screening, the sample material of the
size fractions of 125 µm, 250 µm and 2 mm per samp-
lewerecountedeachcompletelywithareected-light
microscope (ocular 10x/21B). Results of botanical and
zoological remains, fungal spores and charred particles
wereusedforcalculations.Theidenticationofbotani-
cal remains was performed using Grosse-Brauckmann,
(1972, 1974), Grosse-Brauckmann & Streitz (1992),
Cappers & Bekker (2013), Göttlich (1990). Fungal re-
mainswereidentiedwithVanGeel&Aptroot(2006),
Van Geel (2001), Van Hoeve & Hendrikse (1998), Schu-
macher (2014).
For a continuous, non-destructive prospection of
the Roman road embankment and the sediment strati-
graphy, we used Earth resistivity tomography (ERT)
to measure a cross-section with a 100-electrode Geo-
tom-2000 system,which was performedin 2016.The
proleusedan electrodespacingof0.75m, we added
topography information by levelling. Data were post-
processed by standard inversion without  lteri ng and
visualisedusingtheRES2DINVsoftware(Hecht2007).
For accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS)-Radiocar-
bon dating, 9 samples were taken at different levels of
thecore RKS2. The AMS-dating was carried out by
Poznan Radiocarbon Laboratory (Poland), results were
calibrated with CALIB7.0.4(Stuiver&Reimer2014),
the age-depth-model was developed with the software
MCAgeDepth 0.1 (Higuera 2008). Besides radiocarbon
dating, the dendrochronologically measured age of an
oak pile of the Roman period (55 ± 8 AD), as descri-
bed in Czysz & Schmid (2013), was included for the age
modelling.
RESULTS
Earth resistivity tomography (ERT)
The measu red prole (Figure 2) shows the location
and thickness of the roman road embankment, inclu-
dingalateralditch,verysimilartothendingsofCzysz
& Schmid (2013). As the percussion drillings did not
reach the deeper strata, a horizontal layering was as-
sumed.However,theproleshowsthatthepeatstrata
may reach down to 3 m depth in the northern part of the
section,llinganolder river course.There,olderpeat
layers are expected.
Radiocarbon dating
The age-depth-model (Figure 3) is based on seven
AMS-radiocarbon ages(Table1)including the age of
Figure2.ERTproleoftheUnterzellerBachtal,crossingtheRomanroadclosetoRKS2.Bluecoloursindicatelowresistivity
values with peat strata, whereas yellow to orange and red to violet colours indicate higher resistivity values due to the occur-
renceofgravelinthecourseoftheRomanroad.Thechancetosilty/clayeysedimentsinthelowerpartofRKS2occursinthe
transition zone between blue to green colours with similar resistivity, which is outlined by the yellow dashed line. Again, the
asymmetric shape of the subsurface is visible. On the southern end of the section, a modern road embarkment (yellow area) ter-
minates the array.
12 katrin geiger et al.
a Roman oak pile (Czysz & Schmid 2013). Radiocarbon
dating revealedanageof12.790±6014C yr BP at the
basis. One age (11,330 ± 60 14C yr BP, 180–181 cm) was
identied as a n outlier and not used in the age model.
Further, a large wood fragment (sample depth 162–166
cm) with the radiocarbon age 3125 ± 35 14C yr BP was
notincluded.Theageofthiswoodfragmentrevealeda
much younger age than expected. It is very likely that this
wood fragment went down during the drilling activities.
Core stratigraphy
Thestratigraphy(Table2)ofthecoreRKS2consists
of homogenous peat, which contains grey-greenish co-
loured layers of silty material with high mica content at
the bottom. Czysz & Schmid (2013) suggest washed-out
sediment material with intercalated layers built by so-
liuction processesduring the LateGlacial.Themain
component of the upper strata is fen peat of a relatively
Depth (cm) Sample name Material Lab.no. Poznan Age 14C
75–76 RKS2_0-1_75-76cm plant remains Poz-67324 7760 ± 60 BP
95–96 RKS2_0-1_95-96cm plant remains Poz-67325 9290 ± 50 BP
137–138 RKS2_1-2_37-38cm plant remains Poz-67326 10.220 ± 50 BP
148–149 RKS2_1-2_48-49cm peat Poz-76228 11.120 ± 60 BP
162–166# RKS2_ 1-2_62-66cm wood Poz-76229 3125 ± 35 BP
164–165 RKS2_1-2_64-65cm plant remains Poz-67367 11.680 ± 90 BP
168–169 RKS2_1-2_68-69cm peat Poz-76230 11.630 ± 60 BP
180–181# RKS2_1-2_80-81cm plant remains Poz-67368 11.330 ± 60 BP
197–198 RKS2_1-2_97-98cm plant remains Poz-67369 12.790 ± 60 BP
Table 1. Uncalibrated results of AMS-Radiocarbon dating (#: not included in the chronology).
Figure 3. Age-depth-model of core RKS2 from the Unterzeller Bachtal.
environmental changes 13
homogenous composition and light to dark brown or
black-brown in colour, partly with intercalated organic
plantremains(bres,roots)anddecomposedsoftwood
fragmentsofbrown-reddishcolour.Theenrichmentof
gravelat17.5–37cmdepthisexplainedbydisturbance
due to the construction of the Roman road.
Pollen Analysis and Macro-remains Screening
Late Glacial (200–130 cm, until ca. 11,590 cal. yr BP):
Thetreespectrumisdominatedbyauctuatingand
relatively high pollen content of Pinus sylvestris, and
low percentages for Carpinus, Betula, Corylus, Quer-
cus and Alnus. Characteristic open land plant species,
including Poaceae and herbs, e.g. Asteraceae and Plan-
tago show low abundances.
Theunitshowsspeciesreferringtomoistlocalcondi-
tions with plant remains (Carex seeds, Pteridophyta spo-
res, zoological remains (Neorhabdocoela and Copepod
eggs, freshwater mites with Hydrozetes), algae spores
(type 128A). Fungal spores, e.g. Glomus fasciculatum,
show relatively high concentrations, especially during
the Allerød. Charred particles occur in low concentrati-
on, despite of higher values of 125–250 µm particles at
the basal part of the diagram (ca. 180–200 cm).
Holocene, Mesolithic (130–68 cm, ca. 11,590– ca.
7500 cal. yr BP):
Pinus and Betula decrease in abundance, while Poa-
ceae dominate the pollen spectrum, rising to ca. 80 % at
the end of Mesolithic. Quercus and Alnus show higher
percentages as in the previous unit. Other trees (Car-
pinus, Corylus) show low percentages. Indicator herbs
for open land, Chenopodium, Asteraceae Cichoriaceae,
Artemisia, Galium begin to appear, but remain at low
percentages.
This un it shows remarkably high concentrations of
charredparticlesatca.75cm,accompaniedbyuctua-
ting, but high concentrations of Glomus. Neorhabdoco-
ela eggs show the same high abundance. Ferns occur in
high concentrations, but other plants are barely present
(Carex seeds).
Holocene, Neolithic (68–40 cm, ca. 7500 – ca. 4150
cal. yr BP):
Mixed forests with Pinus, Carpinus, Betula, Cory-
lus, Fraxinus, Quercus and Alnus represent the tree
vegetation during this period. Pinus shows its lowest
percentage here throughout the record. Poaceae ri-
se to their maximum within the whole record. Most
of the herbs, like Asteraceae Cichoriaceae, Artemisia,
Galiumandrst-appearingBrassicaceaeshowma-
xima, but remain at lower than 5 % abundance each.
Plants, mostly seeds of Juncaceae, Carex, Potentilla
erecta and Characeae Oospores show high concentra-
tions, while remains of animals, algae and ferns are ne-
arly absent. Glomus spores and charred particles show
low abundances.
Holocene, Bronze Age & Iron Age (40–17,5 cm, ca.
4150 – ca. 1600 cal. yr BP):
Pinus shows slightly arising percentages up to ca.
25 % shortly before the beginning of the Roman Period,
other tree species show relatively high values (Betula,
Quercus, Alnus), despite of Carpinus and Corylus. As-
teraceae Chichoriaceae have a peak during the Bronze
Age, but, in general, show increasing values. Brassica-
ceaearecharacterizedbyuctuatingpercentages.Most
of the previously dominating herbs are missing in this
section, apart from Asteraceae Senecioneae and Plant-
ago, but with very low abundances. During the Roman
Period, a sharp decrease of Pinus and Betula becomes
obvious, whilst Poaceae, Alnus (with a minimum at the
beginning of the section), Asteraceae Chichoriaceae
and Brassicaceae increase.
During this unit, only Characeae Oospores show rela-
tively high occurrences. Juncaceae seed remains at low
concentrations; Carex seeds have a single peak at the
beginning of the Bronze Age but are absent afterwards.
Thefungisporesandcharredparticlesshownearlythe
same values as in the unit before.
Holocene, Medieval & modern (17,5–0 cm, ca. 1500
cal. yr BP until today):
All tree taxa, including Pinus,showuctuations,but
remain constantly present at higher abundances, Betu-
la with a peak at the beginning of the Middle Ages (ca.
duringMigrationPeriod).Theherbs,especiallyAstera-
Depth (cm) Lithology
0–5,0 Topsoil
5,0–17,5 Peat
17,5–37,0 Organic Sediment
37,0–53,0 Peat
53,0–73,0 Organic Sediment
73,0–100,0 Peat with plant remains
100,0–104,5 Gap
104,5–125,0 Peat with plant remains
125,0–130,0 Peat with wood fragments
130,0–146,0 Peat
146,0–162,0 Peat with plant remains
162,0–182,0 Peat
182,0–200,0 Silt, Loess
Table 2. Overview of the core stratigraphy of the Dasing RKS 2
peat core.
14 katrin geiger et al.
Figure 4. Pollen diagram of the main types of trees, shrubs and herbs, given in percentages (%)
against age (cal. yr BP) and depth (cm). Zones are divided based on archaeological and geological
chronologies.
environmental changes 15
Figure 5. Diagram of the main taxa of the macro-remain screening (botanical & zoological
remains, spores, charred particles), given in concentrations (n/ml) against age (cal. yr BP) and
depth (cm). Zones divided based on archaeological and geological chronology.
16 katrin geiger et al.
ceae Chichoriaceae, show very high abundances, and
BrassicaceaeandtherstlyoccurringApiaceaehighly
uctuate.TheshifttotheModernAgeismarkedbyup-
coming Drosera, which indicates moist local conditions.
Carex seeds occur again at the end of the Middle Age,
also Characeae oospores, but with lower concentrations
than previously. Zoological remains are with very low
contents, also Juncaceae. Pteridophyta reach a single
peak towards the end of the Middle Ages but then dis-
appear from the record. Glomus spores and other fungi
types show slightly rising abundances towards the Mo-
dern Age.
DISCUSSION
Environmental conditions at the end of the Late
Glacial
The local vegetation during the Late Glacial since
15,500 cal. yr BP was characterized by a vegetation do-
minated by sedges, as high amounts of Carex seeds in-
dicate. Fires occurred between ca. 15,500–13,500 cal.
BP, represented by a high abundance of charred partic-
les.ThenearlysimultaneoushighabundanceofGlomus
fasciculatum (ca. 14,000–13,000 cal. yr BP) in correla-
tion to the charred particles is probably related to the
changing environment during this time with increased
erosional processes (Anderson et al. 1984). Due to low
pollen concentration until nearly 14,000 cal. yr BP, the
regional vegetation cover was rather scarce. A still open
landscape with a high dominance of Poaceae and Aster-
aceae Senecioneae can be assumed.
The period from 15,500–14,000 cal.yr BP showsa
lack of pollen accumulation in the sediments, which
was also observed at the nearby location Füramoos
(Kern et al. 2019) for the same period. Pinus sylvestris
and Corylus,asthe rsttrees, appearatapproximate-
ly14,000–13,500cal.yr BP.The earlydistribution of
Pinus sylvestris corresponds with the results of Lake
Soppensee in Switzerland (Lotter et al. 1992), the peat-
lands Egelsee-Moor A (Austria; Krisai et al. 2016) and
Mehlblock moos (Allgäu,  Germany;  Stojakowits 2014)
and locally with the results of a nearby peat core close
toDasing(Stojakowits&Friedmann2016).
Thepeat-underlayingsoiliscomposedofahighmi-
neralogic content. As fens can also develop on mineral
soil based on ponding (Lang 1994), paired with zoolo-
gical macro-remains as proxy for freshwater conditions,
expressed here by a high groundwater table, the idea
of the presence of ponds or at least a prevailing mars-
hy environment is assumed for ca. 15,500–13,900 cal.
yr BP. Fossil resting eggs are produced by harpacticoid
and calanoid copepods (e.g. Brewer 1964; Santer 1998).
The production of rest ing eggs as a dormant st age to
cope with harsh conditions is a characteristic adaption
used by zooplankton (Hairston & Munns 1984), which
is living in shallow or temporary water bodies with
highly variable environmental conditions like high or
low temperatures, desiccation or freezing (Radzikow-
ski 2013). Calanoid copepods also colonize tempora-
rylakes and ponds(Kiefer1978),as wellasthe phre-
atic groundwater (Bowmann 1979),that occur main-
ly in surface-near soils or loess layers. Neorhabdocoela
eggs, counted with very high amounts ca. 14,300 cal.
yr BP and medium amounts ca. 12,500 cal. yr BP, are
spherical-shaped capsules (Warner 1989), belonging to
the thick-shelled eggs, can survive dormant over long
times (Pennak1978).Sreenivasa(1973)describedfos-
sil capsules of neorhabdocoeles in lake sediments with
peak abundances in eutrophic phases, but it stayed un-
sure, if they can be used generally as indicators for eu-
trophic conditions (see Schittek 2014). Huge amounts
of copepod dormant eggs were counted around 13,900
cal. BP. During the accumulation of peat, the conditions
forcopepodsseemedtobecomeunfavourable.Thispe-
riod was supposedly affected by a changing environ-
ment from a marshy or pond-like situation to the initial
growth of a treeless fen during the Late Glacial in the
Unterzeller Bachtal.
Erosional effects, marked by high concentrations of
Glomusspores,mostlikelyprovokedbyuvialproces-
ses at the location Unterzeller Bachtal, might explain
the low or no pollen conservation, or a washed-out pol-
len situation, of e.g. Betula during the Allerød (13,350–
12,680 cal. yr BP) and the Younger Dryas (12,680–
11,590cal.yrBP).Thecoolingofthe YoungerDryas
had no greater negative impacts on the vegetation; only
a low increase of Poaceae may indicate more open Pi-
nus forests, alsodocumentedbyStojakowits&Fried-
mann(2016),andKortfunke(1992)fortheTertiaryhills
and the Donaumoos.
Natural and anthropogenic impacts during the
Holocene
ThetransitiontotheHoloceneischaracterisedbythe
beginning decline of Pinus forests and an increase of
Poaceae, which lasts throughout the Mesolithic Period
(11,590–7500cal.yrBP),buttheforestsarestilldomi-
nated by pine trees.
Between the Preboreal (11,590–10,800 cal. yr BP) and
the Boreal (10,800–8600 cal. yr BP), Quercus and Alnus
expand. Alder was very likely a tree located directly in
the Unterzeller Bachtal, which formed an Alder swamp
forest. Soft wood fragments of brown-reddish colour
were found in the macro-remains, which are likely Al-
der wood. Alder swamp forests with reed belts could
have formed within the Unterzeller Bachtal, with only
few ponds in between. No typical zoological remains
can be found during the Early Mesolithic (pre-boreal)
Period, so life conditions probably were unfavourable
forthem.FrequentforestresduringtheBorealarein-
dicated by high concentrations of charred particles. Soil
erosionmayhavefollowedthereevents,butitisve-
rylikely,thatuvialactivities affectedtheUnterzeller
Bachtal contemporaneously. At least, climate had been
characterized by wetter conditions during the end of the
Mesolithic Period, due to higher concentrations of neo-
environmental changes 17
rhabdocoel eggs and the presence of ferns and sedges.
Afurtherreason,aspostulatedbyStojakowits&Fried-
mann (2016), could have been variations in the ground-
water table. Poor pollen conservation in other records of
theareaisinterpretedduetotheseconditions(Stojako-
wits & Friedmann 2016, Langer 1961, Peters 2010). At
the end of the Boreal, typical tree species as Ulmus, Ti-
lia, Fraxinus and strong increases of Corylus, as descri-
bedbyStojakowits&Friedmann(2016)forDasing,the
ndings of the locat ions Haselbach (Kor tfunke 1992)
and Weichs (Peters 2010), are not supported by our pol-
len record. First hints for human settlements in the re-
gion are dated to the Mesolithic, but with no obvious
impact on the environment due to the pollen record.
In the Landkreis Augsburg archaeological ndings of
the Mesolithic Period in Gablingen and Langerringen,
demonstrate the permanent existence of settlements in
that region (Pötzl & Schneider 1996). Mesolithic open
airsites(“Freilandstationen”)areknown from Afng,
Friedberg, Oberwittelsbach, Sielenbach and Wulferts-
hausen (Bollacher 2012).
FortheNeolithic(7500–4800cal.yrBP),earlyNeo-
lithic settlement dynamics, the so called Linearbandke-
ramik(LBK),rstfarmingcommunities,aredocumen-
ted for Bavaria (Pechtl & Land 2019). New hydroclima-
te reconstructions for southern Germany by Pechtl &
Land (2019) demonstrate high year-to-year-variabilities
ofdryandwetspring-summerseasonsbetween7400–
7101cal.y rBPwithloweructuat ionsuntil6901BP.Si-
gnicantinuencesoftheregionalclimatearound6960
BP on the dynamics of the LBK are possible (Pechtl &
Land 2019). For the Unterzeller Bachtal, variabilities in
wet and dry conditions can be derived from high varia-
bilities in sedges and rushes abundances at the transiti-
on to the Neolithic until ca. 6000 cal. yr BP.
Carex species can cover large areas of fens and we-
re utilized for haymaking (Øien & Moen 2001). Due to
the opened landscape within the valley and the resulting
higher insolation, Potentilla erecta started to grow du-
ringca.7000–5000cal.yrBP.Potentilla erecta is also
a typical plant for wet meadows (Maier 2004), but might
grow at the margins of fens, too (Rydin & Jeglum 2013).
It is a characteristic plant growing in a bright environ-
ment (Ellenberg & Leuschner 2001). It is possible that a
wet meadow established and was used for haymaking.
Characeae show high abundances at around 5500 cal. yr
BP and 3500 cal. yr BP., which indicates the growth of
sublitoral meadows in open waters, and were also found
in cultural layers, e.g. of the wetland settlements at the
lake Federsee in upper Swabia (Maier 2004). Pine fo-
rests were shrunk to a minimum caused by the human
impact due to clearings and the use of wood for con-
structionandfuel.Thevegetationwasmostlyopenland
with agricultural areas, whereof the dispersal of herbs
beneted.ThetransitionfromtheLateNeolithictothe
Bronze Age appears in southern Germany around 4150
cal. yr BP (Stockhammer et al. 2015).
During the Bronze Age and the following Iron Age,
coal mining, crafting and trading were established
(Pötzl & Schneider 1996). Light forests with pine, birch,
alder, hazel and partly oak trees could recover on the
former arable lands, possibly due to changes of the den-
sity of population concerning migration activities du-
ring the Iron Age.
DuringtheRomanPeriod(ca.1965–1575BPforBa-
varia, Pötzl & Schneider 1996), further forest clearings
are documented by a sharp decrease of Pinus. Wood was
needed as fuel for the production of charcoal and for
construction works. Open landscapes prevailed throug-
hout the Roman Period. A distinctive opening of the
landscape was also documented for a site in the Paartal,
northeasternofthedistrictTaiting,whichbelongstothe
city of Dasing (Stojakowits & Friedman n 2016). Two
RomansettlementsarealsoknownforTaiting(Paula&
Bollacher2012).Agriculturewaspracticed,andrstly,
mediterranean food plants and trees were imported and
cultivated.Therefore,Brassicaceaebecomecontinuous-
ly abundant within the Roman Period, and probably
were cultivated. As the Romans con structed the road
along the Unterzeller Bachtal, it is very likely that they
found an environment formed by marshy conditions
indicated by the continuous abundance of Characeae.
A further hint for the presence of peatlands in Dasing
during the Roman Period is also presumed by Küster
(2016)concerningndingsofSphagnum and Menyan-
thes trifolia within the earlier deposits in the hollow
partsofthePaartalinasouthernpartofDasing.There,
sediments of a millpond were analyzed, that was built
supposedly during around696/697AD(Küster 2016).
During the Migration Period pioneer trees like Betula
established probably on the former Roman agricultural
elds,and most tree species(Pinus, Carpinus, Alnus,
Corylus, Quercus, Fraxinus) recovered from clearings.
Open landscapes with increased amounts of Asteraceae
(A. Chichorioideae) and partly high varying amounts of
trees, e.g. light forests due to forestations, can be assu-
med here during the Medieval Warm Period.
Küster(2016)presumedthe‘usual’developmentofa
medieval cultural landscape for the Paartal for the 6th
and7thcenturyAD.DuringtheLittleIceAge(1350–
1830 AD/650–170 BP, Sirocko 2013), merely Betula
and Alnusseemed to benet fromthecolderand wet-
ter conditions indicated by their increasing abundan-
ces. Moreover, also the herbs, especially Droseraprot
from the wetter conditions and very likely grew locally
within the marshy soils and ponds in the Unterzeller
Bachtal. Higher levels of groundwater in the cold cli-
mate conditions led probably to the re-expansion of wet
meadows, with partly marshy soils or ponds, wherein
copepods, neorhabdocoela and mites can be evidenced.
Today,the regionis characterizedbyintensiveagri-
culturallanduse.Thesiteismostlydrainedduetothe
use as pastureland. Only a relic of the former fen exists
today.
CONCLUSIONS
For this study, a two-meter-long peat core was analy-
zed by pollen analysis, non-pollen palynomorphs and
18 katrin geiger et al.
macro-remainsscreening.Theresultsallowinsightsin-
to the vegetation history of the region of Dasing since
the Late Glacial ti me period towards today. The suc-
cessful use ofspecic proxies reectingspecicenvi-
ronments, e.g. moist or nutrient-rich conditions, showed
that also infrequent zoological macro-remains are ap-
plicable proxies for palaeoecological studies. During
the Late Glacial, the environment was initially shaped
steppe-like until ca. 13,500 cal. BP, dominated by gras-
ses and herbs. Until nearly 14,000 cal. BP, a lack of pol-
len (or very low pollen content) was observed, contem-
poraneously the accumulation of aeolic loess took place.
A rst dispersal of Pinus pollen was observed at
14,200cal.BP. The local record shows an initial fen-
growth within the valley during the Late Glacial Period
from ca. 14,000 cal. BP onwards, which persisted until
the transition to the Neolithic Period, at about 8000 cal.
BP. When the landscape became open, wet meadows
developed possibly on the marshy soils. It is very likely,
that the wet meadows within the valley were used for
theproductionofhay.Thehistoryoftheregionalvege-
tation was reconstructed in detail especially for the Ho-
locene, when the progress of land cultivation appeared.
Thestudydetectedrstimpactsonthenaturalvegeta-
tion during the Late Mesolithic Period. Forest cover re-
ducedsignicantly,duringtheRomanPeriod,andespe-
cially during road construction works in the Unterzeller
Bachtal, the local conditions were marshy.
In contrastto a study ofthe Paartal (Stojakowits&
Friedmann 2016), our results provide the evidence that
fen-peatlandsoftheTertiaryhillsoflowerBavariacan
bedenitely valuablearchivesfortheinvestigation of
environmental aspects. Micro- and macro-remains, em-
bedded in the peat, are useful proxy combinations for
thereconstructionofformerlandscape.Thepeatdepo-
sits in the Unterzeller Bachtal are mostly undisturbed,
except for the part with the embedded Roman road, so
that the core of RKS2 appears as highly useable for re-
constructions.AccordingtotheERTresults,olderfen
deposits are expected north of the roman road, which
hold palaeo-environmental information of the Pleisto-
cene period that have to be investigated in the future.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
TheauthorsliketothankSarahStinnesbeckandLisa
Ungrad for the help in the laboratory, Mario Ranzinger
forthesupportintheeldandJonathanHense(Univer-
sityofBonn)fortheidenticationofthemites.Tomasz
Goslar (Poznan Radiocarbon Laboratory) is acknow-
ledged for good advices concerning radiocarbon dating.
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AUTOREN
Katrin Geiger M.Sc.
Institut für Geographiedidaktik
Universität zu Köln
Gronewaldstr. 2
50931 Köln
E-Mail: geigerk@smail.uni-koeln.de
Dr. Karsten Schittek
Institut für Geographiedidaktik
Universität zu Köln
Gronewaldstr. 2
50931 Köln
E-Mail: schittek@uni-koeln.de
Dr. Bertil Mächtle
Geographisches Institut Heidelberg
Universität Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 348
69120 Heidelberg
E-Mail: bertil.maechtle@uni-heidelberg.de
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Czysz
Mühlstraße 19
86850 Fischach
E-Mail: czysz.wolfgang@t-online.de
Dr. Wolfgang Schmid
Büro für Geo-Ressourcen
Max-Planck-Straße 4
81675München
E-Mail: dr.wolfgang.schmid@geo-ressourcen.de
Prof. Dr. Frank Schäbitz
Institut für Geographiedidaktik
Universität zu Köln
Gronewaldstr. 2
50931 Köln
E-Mail: frank.schaebitz@uni-koeln.de
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