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The ecological impact of conquest and colonization on a medieval frontier landscape: combined palynological and geochemical analysis of lake sediments from Radzyń Chełminski, northern Poland

Brown, A., Banerjea, R., Dawn-Wynne, A., Stivrins, N., Jarzebowski, M., Shillito, L.-M. and Pluskowski, A. (2015) The ecological impact of conquest and colonization on a medieval frontier landscape: combined palynological and geochemical analysis of lake sediments from Radzyń Chełminski, northern Poland. Geoarchaeology, 30 (6). pp. 511-527. ISSN 0883-6353

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/gea.21525

Abstract/Summary

Slavic and German colonization of the southern Baltic between the 8th and 15th centuries A.D. is well-documented archaeologically and historically. Despite the large number of pollen profiles from Poland, few palaeoecological studies have examined the ecological impact of a process that was central to the expansion of European, Christian, societies. This study aims to redress this balance through multiproxy analysis of lake sediments from Radzyń Chełminski, Northern Poland, using pollen, element geochemistry (Inductively Coupled-Optical Emission Spectroscopy [ICP-OES]), organic content, and magnetic susceptibility. The close association between lake and medieval settlements presents the ideal opportunity to reconstruct past vegetation and land-use dynamics within a well-documented archaeological, historical, and cultural context. Three broad phases of increasing landscape impact are visible in the pollen and geochemical data dating from the 8th/9th, 10th/11th, and 13th centuries, reflecting successive phases of Slavic and German colonization. This involved the progressive clearance of oak-hornbeam dominated woodland and the development of an increasingly open agricultural landscape. Although the castles and towns of the Teutonic Order remain the most visible signs of medieval colonization, the palynological and geochemical data demonstrate that the major phase of woodland impact occurred during the preceding phase of Slavic expansion; Germans colonists were entering a landscape already significantly altered.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:39714
Publisher:Wiley

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