In search of use patterns of archaeological features on multi-cultural sites. A microarchaeological case study of ditch infill formation at an Eneolithic enclosure in Mikulin (Eastern Poland)

  • Mateusz Krupski
  • Tomasz J. Chmielewski
  • Mirosław Furmanek
  • Anna Zakościelna
Original Paper


By studying the microscopic record of infills of archaeological features, it is possible to reveal their formation history and consequently obtain a better understanding of natural and cultural factors which have operated at the sites, following the assumption that specific past land use practices leave specific microarchaeological imprints. At multi-phase sites with a diverse history of occupation, this may help to detect possible changes in the use of the features and link them with known occupation episodes. From the viewpoint of studies on the role of enclosures in the prehistoric cultural landscape, it is important to have an understanding of how their distinctive structures—the ditches—were used. In order to gain insight into this matter, the infill of one of the ditches of an Eneolithic enclosure discovered at the site of Mikulin 8 (Eastern Poland) was studied from a geoarchaeological perspective involving soil micromorphology and physico-chemical analyses. As a result, it was possible to identify three major processes responsible for the formation of the infill and estimate their rates, what significantly broadened the knowledge of the context in which artefacts were discovered and brought some information on natural landscape changes. These findings, combined with data delivered by artefacts analysis, geophysical prospection, and radiocarbon dating, suggest the existence of two distinct settlement episodes at the site, marked by different use of the ditch structure, first by communities of the Lublin-Volhynian culture and then by peoples of the Funnel Beaker culture.


Eneolithic Enclosure ditch Geoarchaeology Formation processes Use of features 



The authors are grateful to Cezary Kabała for reviewing an earlier version of the paper, conducting the physico-chemical analyses and soil descriptions. Many thanks to Lenka Lisá and Richard Macphail for discussions on the micromorphology of European Neolithic enclosure ditches, to Julie Boreham for preparing the thin sections, to Daniel Makowiecki for analysis of the faunal remains, to Tomasz Goslar for 14C measurements and to Jan Reder for geomorphological consultations. We would also like to thank the Editor and two anonymous Reviewers for comments which helped to steer the paper in the proper direction. The micromorphological analysis was conducted by MK using equipment belonging to the Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Wrocław, by kind permission of Piotr Gunia. The physico-chemical analyses of bulk samples were financed from research grant 1358/M/IAR/15 awarded by the Faculty of Historical and Pedagogical Sciences, University of Wrocław, whereas the manufacturing of micromorphological slides was funded by the Archaeologia Silesiae Science Foundation. The excavations conducted in 2012–2013 by TJCh and AZ were supported with statutory funds of the Institute of Archeology, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mateusz Krupski
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tomasz J. Chmielewski
    • 3
  • Mirosław Furmanek
    • 1
  • Anna Zakościelna
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity of WrocławWrocławPoland
  2. FoundationWrocławPoland
  3. 3.Institute of Archaeology and EthnologyUniversity of GdańskGdańskPoland
  4. 4.Institute of ArchaeologyMaria Curie-Skłodowska UniversityLublinPoland

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