History of agriculture in Mikkeli Orijärvi, eastern Finland as reflected by palynological and archaeological data

Original Article


The introduction and development of cultivation in eastern Finland was studied by pollen and charcoal analysis of a palaeomagnetically dated sediment profile from Lake Orijärvi, in the vicinity of permanent prehistoric fields. The earliest changes of possibly anthropogenic origin are visible in the pollen data from 1630 b.c. onwards and indications of human impact become more evident from 500 b.c. onwards. According to finds of cereal pollen and AMS-dating of charred cereal grains from the oldest field layer, the onset of cultivation can be dated to the Merovingian period around a.d. 600. To a significant extent the pollen data reflect only the cultivation of Secale during the first 600 years. The marked intensification of agricultural activities including cultivation in permanent fields only becomes evident in the pollen data from about a.d. 1050 to 1080 onwards and the most intensive land use phase dates to a.d. 1300–1965. Archaeological and palaeoecological material indicate that swidden cultivation and permanent field cultivation were in use simultaneously during the late Iron Age. The combination of these techniques together with animal husbandry and hunting formed a subsistence strategy in the climatic border-zone outside the centres of the agricultural core areas.


Pollen Palaeomagnetic dating Iron Age Prehistoric fields Swidden cultivation Permanent field cultivation 

Copyright information

© Springer Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teija Alenius
    • 1
  • Esa Mikkola
    • 2
  • Antti E. K. Ojala
    • 1
  1. 1.Geological Survey of FinlandEspooFinland
  2. 2.National Board of AntiquitiesHelsinkiFinland

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