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Environment and agriculture of the transitional period from the Late Bronze to early Iron Age in the eastern Baltic: an archaeobotanical case study of the lakeshore settlement Luokesa 1, Lithuania

Abstract

Prehistoric agriculture and vegetation in Lithuania have so far been reconstructed largely using palynological data. This paper reports the archaeobotanical investigation of macroremains from the Late Bronze-early Iron Age (LBA–EIA) lakeside settlement Luokesa 1 (L1) in eastern Lithuania, with the aim of elucidating the settlement’s history and crop diversity. The single phase settlement was fortified with an onshore palisade and is dated between 625 and 535 cal. bc. Samples were taken along a land to lake transect, and in the centre of L1. The stratigraphy consisted of three distinct layers: lake marl, cultural deposit and sandy limnic sediment on top. The plant spectrum shows that L1 was constructed on an exposed morainic shoal. It was surrounded by woodland, meadows, fields/gardens, ruderal habitats and riverine vegetation. Accumulated cultural deposits consisted mainly of manure (litter, fodder and dung of sheep/goat), with rubbish, sweepings from the houses or remains of the on-site vegetation. The crops were Panicum miliaceum, Triticum spelta, T. dicoccon, Hordeum vulgare s.l., Pisum sativum and Camelina sativa, the latter being the first prehistoric evidence in Lithuania. The trophic state of the lake increased during the occupation period. After the abandonment of the settlement the ruins decayed until the lake flooded the site. The results are discussed in a broader context of the LBA/EIA cultures in northern Central Europe.

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Acknowledgements

My thanks go to Elena Pranckėnaitė, head of the excavation on Lake Luokesa who supported me also with the translation of Lithuanian articles, and my colleagues at Integrative Prehistory and Archaeological Science (IPAS), who helped me with the identification of macroremains and were open for many fruitful discussions, especially Örni Akeret, Patricia Vandorpe and Petra Zibulski. For help during writing I thank my colleague Angela Schlumbaum (IPAS) and two anonymous reviewers who largely improved the manuscript. Many thanks go also to Stefanie Jacomet, who supervised my doctorate work which was financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Project-No. K-13K1-117893/1) and by the Fritz Sarasin Stiftung.

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Correspondence to Britta Pollmann.

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Communicated by M. Latałowa.

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Pollmann, B. Environment and agriculture of the transitional period from the Late Bronze to early Iron Age in the eastern Baltic: an archaeobotanical case study of the lakeshore settlement Luokesa 1, Lithuania. Veget Hist Archaeobot 23, 403–418 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-014-0464-0

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Keywords

  • Archaeobotany
  • Wetland site
  • Waterlogged preservation
  • Dung of sheep/goat
  • Camelina sativa
  • Animal husbandry
  • Crops