Research & Results

Archaeological, archaeobotanical and palaeoenvironmental investigations in the western part of the Nida Basin

National Science Centre, grant "OPUS"
Dr. Magdalena Moskal-del Hoyo


The aim of the project is to study the interaction between Neolithic people and their surroundings in the western part of the Nida Basin. The investigations will be divided into two major aspects. In the first one, special attention will be turned toward the characterization of plant diet and economy during the development of long-lasted settlements dated to the Funnel Beaker culture. Also, the main research goal of the project is to examine the environmental history and landscape transformations caused by agriculture and land-use in the Neolithic. These aspects will be studied at micro-scale for two settlements. The second approach will permit to describe the vegetation cover at macro-regional scale and to detect its changes due to climatic conditions and to the increasing intensity of human occupation with time.

The archaeobotanical and palaeoenvironmental research of the western part of the Nida Basin will be conducted following a multi-disciplinary approach. The project aims to qualitatively and quantitatively analyse the plant macro-remains (e.g. fruits, seeds, wood charcoals) found in two archaeological sites, namely Miechów 3 and Młodzawy-Mozgawa. Also, pollen analysis from the areas of the sites will be conducted in order to illustrate different vegetation communities growing near the settlements, while geomorphological analyses will help to detect if deforestation caused by human actions in the nearby area occurred. The archaeological research will be enriched by GIS-based analysis, geomagnetic research and archaeological field prospections that will be conducted in the area of the excavated sites. On the other hand, in the proximity of the Młodzawy-Mozgawa region, in the valley of the Nida river, geomorphological, palynological and pedo-anthracological analyses, combined with radiocarbon dating, will be performed with the purpose of characterizing micro- and macro-regional changes of the environmental conditions during different periods of the Holocene.

The project will help to get a better understanding of the patterns of Neolithic settlement and economic systems employed by the Funnel Beaker culture. This research will have strong interdisciplinary aspects since the proposed work concerns different scientific branches. This multidisciplinary approach enables, on one hand, to obtain palaeoethnographic information concerning the types of plants used in the past and the way they were employed. On the other hand, the results will contribute to understanding the history of plants in the region, the characterization of plant communities that were growing in the vicinity of human settlements and the description of human impact on local ecosystems during different phases of occupation. Emphasis will be placed on characterizing local forests since they formed part of the natural environment selected by Neolithic settlers. In addition, the results of the analysis of new archaeobotanical and palaeobotanical samples are hoped to contribute significantly to the discussion about the history of steppe-like vegetation in the western part of the Nida Basin region, especially when this kind of vegetation may be of anthropogenic origin. Furthermore, the work concerning the palynological investigation of the Nida valley has a high potential to gain a reference site for the description of the dynamic of vegetation in the region since it will cover longer periods of the postglacial.