Original paper

Evidence of (pre-) historic to modern landscape and land use history near Jänschwalde (Brandenburg, Germany)

Nicolay, Alexander; Raab, Alexandra; Raab, Thomas; Rösler, Horst; Bönisch, Eberhard; Murray, Andrew S.

Abstract

In the apron of the active lignite opencast pit Jänschwalde (Brandenburg, Germany), three archaeological survey trenches were investigated in an area where aeolian sand deposits are widespread. The investigated sediment sequences contain evidence of aeolian morphodynamics, soil formation and agricultural land use. To study the age and the causes of sand drifting and surface stabilization, standard soil physical and chemical laboratory analyses as well as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and radiocarbon dating (14C) were carried out. Two main sedimentological units were identified: Unit 1 consists of glacio-fluvial and Late Glacial aeolian sands representing the parent material for the native Podsol-Braunerde, while Unit 2 represents the Late Holocene aeolian deposits. Four periods of Late Glacial and Holocene aeolian activity and three phases of geomorphological stability have been identified: (i) Aeolian sedimentation during the Late Glacial, (ii) Mesolithic reactivation of aeolian processes, (iii) soil formation until Late Roman Iron Age settlers intensified the agricultural land use, (iv) intensive drift sand formation during the High Middle Ages due to agricultural expansion, (v) stabilization of the drift sands and weak soil formation, (vi) reactivation of aeolian processes due to the increasing wood consumption and charcoal production from the early 17th until the mid-19th century, (vii) surface stabilization and formation of Regosols since the mid-19th century due to afforestation.

Keywords

agricultural useburied soildrift sandsgeoarchaeologymiddle ages