Original paper

Potential of palaeosols, sediments and archaeological features to reconstruct Late Glacial fire regimes in northern Central Europe - case study Grabow site and overview

Tolksdorf, Johann Friedrich; Turner, Falko; Kaiser, Knut; Eckmeier, Eileen; Bittmann, Felix; Veil, Stephan


Late Glacial fires in Northern Germany are well known from different geoarchives such as palaeosols, (limnic) sediments and archaeological sites. This has evoked the question if the fire regime during the Allerød and Younger Dryas was driven exclusively by natural agents (temperature, precipitation, vegetation pattern) or was ? at least to some extent ? a result of anthropogenic burning. We contribute to this question by examining on-site and off-site archives in the Jeetzel valley at the Late Palaeolithic site Grabow 15 (N-Germany). The spatial analysis of the charcoal distribution and biomarkers (?black carbon?) in an on-site test area enabled a detailed reconstruction of human burning activities during the early Allerød. A determination of the charred wood taxa allowed a reconstruction of the local vegetation pattern during the time of human occupation. The evidence of man-made fire was compared to the general occurrence of charcoal particles in two palaeochannels that provided archives for palynological and sedimentological analysis for the time span from the Allerød to the early Holocene. Based on the reconstructed local vegetation patterns, human occupation phases and water levels we conclude that human presence during the early Allerød must have increased the input of charcoal and biomarkers into the local sediments. During the Younger Dryas no human contribution to the local charcoal influx was detected. We concluded that future studies must considerate the very local impact of man-made fires in much greater detail.


charcoalhuman impactlate palaeolithic