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Hunter-gatherer communities used controlled fires 11,000-years-ago

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Human hunter-gatherer communities were using controlled fires 11,000-years-ago to create open clearings to hunt wild grazing animals.

In a study led by the University of Barcelona (UB) and IPHES-CERCA, researchers analysed soil samples from Laguna de Villena on Spain’s southeastern Costa Blanca.

The team carried out a study on the geochemistry and sedimentary carbon content of the soil and pollen remnants. This investigation unveiled proof of controlled burning in the area during the Mesolithic era, which was likely done to alter the landscape, potentially with the goal of establishing open clearings and pastures to lure wild game for hunting.

Previously, it was believed that this practice began only during the Neolithic period around 9,000 years ago and didn’t become widespread until the Iron Age, approximately 3,000 years ago.

Abundant fuel sources were available due to the proliferation of oak and holm oak trees during a temperate and wet climatic phase. This climate likely facilitated the settlement of hunter-gatherer communities in the region, as the lagoon environment provided a diverse ecosystem for their sustenance.

The research highlights the alteration of the landscape by Mesolithic societies and a gradual aridification following a cooling climatic event 8,200 years ago. This combination disrupted the ecological equilibrium, signifying a significant shift in vegetation dynamics. Oak groves never regained their once-dominant position in the landscape, leading to the establishment of a new equilibrium characterised by the prevalence of pine forests and vegetation better suited for arid conditions.

Dr. Jordi Revelles, from the IPHES: “Despite the frequent consideration of a lesser capacity of hunter-gatherer communities in the transformation of the landscape, this work highlights the active role of the Mesolithic populations of the southeastern peninsula in the fire regime to favour open spaces in the forests”.

From the Neolithic onwards, the lower availability of fuel caused by the aridity and by agricultural and pastoral work translated into a lower intensity of fires.

IPHES

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Archaeology

Study reveals new insights into life at “German Stonehenge”

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Excavations of the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, nicknamed the “German Stonehenge”, has revealed new insights into domestic life from prehistory.

Ringheiligtum Pömmelte is a late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age henge from the late third millennium BC. The monument features seven concentric rings made of palisades, ditches, and raised banks, each containing a series of wooden posts.

The site was discovered in 1991 through aerial photography near the present-day village of Pömmelte in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

From 2018 to 2022, archaeologists have excavated nearly 140 ancient dwellings dating from 2,800 BC to 2,200 BC. The older dwellings are linked to the Corded Ware and the Bell Beaker culture, while the more recent ones are associated with the Únětice Culture.

In a recent study conducted by the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) of Saxony-Anhalt, archaeologists are employing various scientific methods to offer new insights into the site’s ritual and settlement landscape.

The study has identified house locations of the Corded Ware culture (26th to 23rd century BC), and an associated settlement pit containing ceramic sherds, an axe head and flint blades. Until now, Corded Ware settlement could only be attributed to individual finds that had been relocated, and not to actual structures on the site.

Also associated with the Corded Ware culture is a storage area with 78 grain silo pits that held various types of gain, including wheat, barley, and spelt. Archaeologists already know that Corded Ware people lived on a balanced diet with animal products, further indicated by drinking vessels from burials at Ringheiligtum Pömmelte that contained traces of dairy products.

While the scientific analyses and the interpretation of the results with various specialists continue, excavations at Pömmelte will last until mid-July 2024.

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Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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3,400-year-old shipwreck found with cargo mostly intact

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Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit have discovered a 3,400-year-old shipwreck with the cargo mostly intact.

The site was first identified during an underwater survey by Energean, an energy company searching for natural gas deposits beneath the Mediterranean Sea Floor.

This led to the discovery of the shipwreck and its cargo at a depth of 1.8 kilometers, along with its cargo that consists of Late Bronze Age Canaanite storage vessels.

IAA archaeologists, in collaboration with Energean, have used the deep sea exploratory vessel, “Energean Star” to conduct a visual inspection of the wreck site. This has revealed hundreds of ceramic vessels on the seabed, and a muddy layer which likely conceals a second layer and the wooden beams of the ship.

Jacob Sharvit, Head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit, explains, “The ship seems to have sunk in crisis, either due to a storm or to an attempted piracy attack – a well-known occurrence in the Late Bronze Age. This is both the first and the oldest ship found in the Eastern Mediterranean deep sea, ninety kilometres from the nearest shore.”

Image Credit : IAA

Only two other ships from this period have been found – the boat from Cape Gelidonya and the Uluburun boat; both found off the Turkish coast. Both ships were found near the shore, suggesting that shipping routes followed the coastline between ports. However, this new discovery changes the understanding of ancient marine trade, demonstrating that ancient shipping also extended into deep waters.

“The ship is preserved at such a great depth that time has frozen since the moment of disaster – its body and contexts have not been disturbed by human hand (divers, fishermen, etc.); nor affected by waves and currents which do impact shipwrecks in shallower waters,” added Sharvit.

Header Image Credit : IAA

Sources : Israel Antiquities Authority

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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