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Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 19, Issue 5–6, pp 427–438 | Cite as

Pollen and non-pollen palynomorph evidence of medieval farming activities in southwestern Greenland

  • Emilie Gauthier
  • Vincent Bichet
  • Charly Massa
  • Christophe Petit
  • Boris Vannière
  • Hervé Richard
Original Article

Abstract

Radiocarbon dating, pollen and non-pollen palynomorph analyses from a lake core were used to establish the timing and effects of farming activities around Lake Igaliku, Eastern Settlement, Greenland. The absence of agro-pastoral impact before the medieval colonization by Europeans provides an opportunity to understand the development of farming activity in a pristine landscape. The results show that the first phase of clearance and grazing pressure, without the expansion of the Norse apophyte (native plant, in habitats created by humans) Rumex acetosa type, could have occurred in the 9–10th century a.d. The presence of Norse settlers and livestock is clearly recorded from the 11–12th century a.d. with increasing frequencies of the Norse apophytes Rumex acetosa type and Ranunculus acris type, and coprophilous fungi. This colonization phase is followed by a period of decreasing human impact at the beginning of the 14th century, with a decrease in weeds, apophytes and coprophilous fungi suggesting a reduced grazing pressure. The regrowth of Salix and Betula and the disappearance of anthropogenic indicators except Rumex acetosa type between the 15th and 18th century demonstrate the abandonment of the settlement, until the development of contemporary agriculture in the 20th century.

Keywords

Non-pollen palynomorphs Palynology Grazing pressure Greenland 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank all the people who have participated in this project. Bruno Regent and Agnès Stock for the technical preparation of the coring campaign, Hervé Grisey and Michel Campy for technical help in Greenland, Julien Didier for pollen preparation, Jean Nicolas Haas, José S. Carrión, José Antonio Lopez Saez, André Aptroot, Antonella Miola and Bas van Geel for their help in the determination of non-pollen palynomorphs. Thanks also go to Carmela Smith and Patricia Alexandre for reading and English improvement. Many thanks to Arnarq Motzfeld, farmer in Søndre Igaliku, for the collection of dung samples in September 2008. Coring campaign, palynological and sedimentological investigations were funded by the University of Franche-Comté, the University of Burgundy (France), the French National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Polar Institute (IPEV).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emilie Gauthier
    • 1
  • Vincent Bichet
    • 2
  • Charly Massa
    • 2
  • Christophe Petit
    • 3
  • Boris Vannière
    • 2
  • Hervé Richard
    • 2
  1. 1.UFR Sciences du Langage, de l’Homme et de la Société.CNRS-Université de Franche-Comté/UMR 6249 Chrono-EnvironnementBesançon CedexFrance
  2. 2.CNRS-Université de Franche-Comté/UMR 6249 Chrono-EnvironnementBesançon CedexFrance
  3. 3.CNRS-Université de Bourgogne/UMR 5594 ArtehisDijonFrance

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