The potential of pollen analyses from urban deposits: multivariate statistical analysis of a data set from the medieval city of Prague, Czech Republic
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In the 12th and 13th centuries, the land which is now the Czech Republic underwent deep social and landscape changes, defined by historians and archaeologists as a transitional period between the early and late medieval periods. This study aims to analyze this transition as reflected by 142 pollen spectra from urban deposits so far excavated in the city of Prague. Multivariate statistics and critical assessment of the results has brought general conclusions on the potential of pollen analysis for urban archaeological research. They reveal an early medieval urban environment as a fine mosaic formed by extensive management, and composed of many habitats without sharp borders between them. Since human impact increased with time and the use of land became more rationalized and intensive, this mosaic developed a relatively coarser structure in the high medieval period. Our results support findings of the earlier subjective and uncertain characteristics of two differing types of medieval pollen spectra (Cerealia-dominated ones with low pollen diversity versus those with a higher proportion of arboreal and wild herbal pollen and high pollen diversity) obtained from various archaeological sites.