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Landscape change in central Latvia since the Iron Age: multi-proxy analysis of the vegetation impact of conflict, colonization and economic expansion during the last 2000 years

Stivrins, N., Brown, A., Reitalu, T., Veski, S., Heinsalu, A., Banerjea, R. and Elmi, K. (2015) Landscape change in central Latvia since the Iron Age: multi-proxy analysis of the vegetation impact of conflict, colonization and economic expansion during the last 2000 years. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 24 (3). pp. 377-391. ISSN 0939-6314

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00334-014-0502-y

Abstract/Summary

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.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:37957
Publisher:Springer

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