While the Marisa River Basin in SE Bulgaria and NW Turkey, and the Tessa Lowland in E Hungary are key areas in respect of the spread of farming in Europe, their environmental history and the human impacts on their landscapes remain unknown. In 2002, four sediment cores with well-preserved pollen and plant macrofossils were recovered from lakes in these areas all in close proximity to key archaeological sites. The prime objective of this research is to investigate the palate-environmental record of Late Glacial and Holocene landscape transformations brought about by agriculture and pastorals using a multi-disciplinary approach, in which a wide-range Quaternary ecological-ecological techniques (pollen-, plant macrofossil-, micro charcoal analyses, AMS radiocarbon and techno-chronological dating) are combined with archaeology. The principal hypothesis to be tested states that despite the existence of long-lived settlements and a large quantity of domesticated plants and animals there was little human impact by farmers in SE Europe until the Bronze Age. Most of the pollen sites on the bases of which this hypothesis was formulated are however located at relatively large distance from key early farming sites. Our sites, in contrast, lie next to well-documented prehistoric settlements; accordingly the scale at which early farming was practiced can be dependably resolved. The second aim is to define and explain regional changes in climate-climate, particularly in water-balance at centennial to millennial scale. An important research question is whether the pollen records from the Bulgarian and Turkish sites show a contrasting Early Holocene cooling and increased humidity characteristic for the Eastern Mediterranean pollen-based palaeocliamte reconstructions but not detectable in the related marine records. Finally, we would like to compare our palaeoclimate reconstructions along a SE-NW transect to see what were the main differences between Asia & C. Europe.
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