Neolithic woodland management and land-use in south-eastern Europe: The anthracological evidence from Northern Greece and Bulgaria
Elena Marinova & Maria Ntinou Quaternary International 496 (2018): 51-67
Wood charcoal (anthracological) remains accumulated in archaeological deposits provide a valuable tool for reconstruction of past local vegetation and its use. They can offer evidence complementary to pollen analysis or be the main source on past vegetation change in areas where no pollen preservation is available. The current study assembles the anthracological evidence from 18 Neolithic sites situated in the zone spanning between the Lower Danube plain and the Aegean coast. This evidence is presented within the broader archaeological and paleoecological context of the region and in cal. years BC and/or BP. The data is interpreted in terms of land-use related to woodland management and exploitation of woodland resources during three chronological phases which could be distinguished within the Neolithic of south-eastern Europe: a) 6500-5800 cal. BC, b) 5800-5500 cal. BC, and c) 5500-4900 cal BC). The main vegetation type targeted by the Neolithic population were the thermophilous, mixed deciduous oak communities, which contained a rich and diverse undergrowth of light-demanding and fruit/nut bearing trees, shrubs and herbs. Those plant communities were the major source of fuel wood, forest pasture, fodder, gathered fruits, etc. The analyses indicate stability and sustainability of the firewood procurement and woodland management practices for the whole considered period and further suggest that the Neolithic land-use strategies favoured the rich and often fruit-bearing undergrowth of the oak forests and woodland.