Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Plant subsistence and environment at the Mesolithic site Tågerup, southern Sweden: new insights on the “Nut Age”

Original Article

Abstract

Pollen was analysed from a sediment sequence collected in the close vicinity of the Mesolithic settlement Tågerup, southern Sweden. Macroremains were also retrieved from numerous samples taken at the site of the archaeological excavations of Kongemose and Ertebølle settlement phases, 6700–6000 b.c. and 5500–4900 b.c. respectively. Plants and other organic remains were well preserved in the refuse layers from the settlements embedded in the gyttja. The pollen record includes no clear indications of human impact on the vegetation during the Mesolithic. The occurrence of charcoal particles and pollen of grass and herbs associated with nutrient-rich soils are contemporaneous with the Kongemose settlement. The Ertebølle settlement phase, although characterised by considerable dwelling activities less than a hundred metres from the pollen sampling site, is scarcely seen in the pollen data. Numerous finds of crushed dogwood stones from the Kongemose phase, often partly carbonised, suggest that these stones were used for the extraction of oil. Other plants found in the Kongemose refuse layers that may have been used are apples, cherries, raspberries, acorns and rowan-berries. Based on the abundance of hazelnut shells found at the studied site and in other studies of Mesolithic sites in southern Scandinavia it is proposed that these remains may testify to an important food supply rather than just use as a supplement to animal protein. It is also hypothesised that a regional decrease in hazel populations and thus hazelnut availability at the end of the Mesolithic may have motivated the adoption of Neolithic subsistence.

Keywords

Plant macroremains Pollen Mesolithic Environmental history Plant subsistence Hazelnuts 

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© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary GeologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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