, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 199-253

Cultivation History Beyond the Periphery: Early Agriculture in the North European Boreal Forest

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We have investigated the environmental history of human occupation and the development of agriculture in the eastern interior Lake District of Finland. The material consists of archaeological data, which is reviewed in topographical and agrogeological context, and pollen analytical evidence of agricultural indices from eight precisely dated (varved) lake sediment sequences. Before the Viking Age, archaeological evidence, consisting of stray finds, dwelling sites, and graves, is very scarce. Iron Age finds are clearly confined to the lowland environs with silty and clayey soils. During the Viking Age, the number of stray finds multiplies and the first cemeteries are established. Comparison between Viking and Crusade Period finds reveals a topographic shift toward higher locations and morainic soils. Most of the cup-stones are located on upland sites—that is, not in connection with known Iron Age sites. These are interpreted as medieval indicators of slash-and-burn farming of the fertile but stony supraaquatic morainic soils. There is pollen analytical evidence of sporadic cultivation in the area from the Bronze Age onward. Afterca. AD 700, the occurrence of cereal pollen grains becomes regular but remains discontinuous at each site until after the turn of the millennium. There is then an exponential rise in the cereal pollen rain, indicating a fully agricultural population.