Session: #218

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Why We Think We Know What They Did: Data, Experiments and Models of Neolithic Land Use
Rich data about the Neolithic economy is available. Diverse disciplines including palynology, dendroarchaeology, archaeobotany, zooarchaeology, and stable isotope and aDNA research, as well as the study of material culture have all contributed to the current pictures of Neolithic land use, modes of production, and diet. In particular, scholars have sought to understand the practices of animal and plant husbandry; modes of hunting, fishing, and gathering; and the dynamics of woodland use. The linkages between those economic strategies and the limitations imposed by the palaeoenvironment are of high importance for understanding Neolithic societies in their entirety.
In this session, we aim to develop a synthesis of our state-of-the-art knowledge about the processes and strategies of Neolithic land use. We invite presentations regarding primary, subject-specific primary data as well as those focusing on interpretation and the creation of local or regional models of Neolithic human-environment interactions.
Examples of questions and topics of interest include:
- What is the species composition of the natural woodland, and which resources did it provide?
- Which crop plants were cultivated? And how?
- What evidence do we have for different modes of animal husbandry?
- How can we estimate the allocation of workforce?
- How did the economic activities shape the landscape around the sites?
- How are settlement dynamics linked to land use?
- How can we formalize and model human-environment relationships?
The intended geographic scope is temperate Europe, but contributions from other regions are welcome insofar as they expand our knowledge about systems of land use applicable to European Neolithic communities. The ultimate goal of the session is to connect the results and ideas of various disciplines interested in prehistoric cultural landscapes, Neolithic modes of production, and socioecological systems.
Neolithic land use, paleo-environment, Neolithic economy, husbandry systems, socioecological models, human-environment-system
Session associated with MERC:
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Main organiser:
Julian Laabs (Switzerland) 1,2
Tilman Baum (Germany) 3
Ingo Feeser (Germany) 4
1. Institute of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bern
2. Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern
3. Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Baden-Württemberg
4. Institute for Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology, University of Kiel