Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 19–36 | Cite as

Late Glacial and early Holocene environment in the middle Lahn river valley (Hessen, central-west Germany) and the local impact of early Mesolithic people—pollen and macrofossil evidence

Original Paper


The Late Glacial to early Holocene river valley landscape of the middle Lahntal in Hessen, central-west Germany, is reconstructed by means of pollen and macrofossil analyses. AMS 14C dating combined with pollen, macrofossil and geomorphological mapping provide a detailed chronology of the floodplain sediments of the river Lahn. Archaeological evidence for early Mesolithic settlements in the middle Lahntal is backed up by pollen and macrofossil evidence, which indicates an increase in light demanding plants, together with ones indicating nutrient-rich and disturbed environments and more macroscopic charcoal and charred pieces of pine. Different phases of human impact were dated; a first phase was dated at ca. 9,270 uncal b.p. and a second phase at ca. 9,120 uncal b.p. Comparison of the palynological data from different fluvial channel fills demonstrates that during this second phase, between ca. 9,120–8,700 uncal b.p., there were several cycles of woodland clearance. The outcome of combined archaeological, palynological and macrofossil data is discussed in terms of the impact of early Mesolithic people using fire on the vegetation during the early Holocene in the middle Lahntal.


Mesolithic Pollen analysis Macrofossils Fluvial sediment Palaeoenvironment Germany 



The two projects "Zur Umwelt mesolithischer Jäger, Fischer und Sammler: Frühpostglaziale Landschaftsveränderungen im mittleren Lahntal" (DFG project: UR 58/1-1) and "Paläoökologische Untersuchungen zur Vegetations- und Landschaftsgeschichte der Flußaue des mittleren Lahntals während des Frühholozäns" (DFG project: KA 752-4) were part of the priority programme (Schwerpunktprogramm) "Changes of the Geo-Biosphere during the last 15,000 years, continental sediments as evidence for changing environmental conditions" funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG). A.J. Kalis of the Seminar für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Universität Frankfurt/Main, to whom we are very grateful for valuable discussions and comments on the manuscript, supervised the second project. We would also like to thank A. Schweizer (Frankfurt/Main) for useful comments and help with the macrofossil diagrams, L. Fiedler (Marburg) for providing the charcoal samples of site NW 6 and A. Kreuz (Wiesbaden) for identifying these charcoals. We are especially grateful to M. Street and M. Baales (Monrepos) for the determination of all the mammal remains. Furthermore, we would like to thank H. Freund and an anonymous referee for useful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seminar für Vor- und FrühgeschichteJ.W. Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am MainFrankfurt/MainGermany
  2. 2.Geobiology-Botanical Palaeoecology, Laboratory of Palaeobotany and PalynologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Universität zu KölnKölnGermany

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