Vegetation shifts at the monumental Ukrainian site of Kamyana Mohyla during the Neolithisation period

Gobet, Erika; Schwörer, Christoph; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline; Nielsen, Ebbe Holm; Kotova, Nadezhda; Makhortykh, Sergej; Kiosak, Dmytro; Tinner, Willy (2017). Vegetation shifts at the monumental Ukrainian site of Kamyana Mohyla during the Neolithisation period. In: Makhortykh, Sergej; de Capitani, Annick (eds.) Archaeology and Palaeoecology of the Ukrainian Steppe (pp. 51-60). Kyiv: IA NAS of Ukraine

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Paleoecological analyses were conducted at Kamyana Mohyla, a monumental prehistorical site in the steppic zone of the Ukraine close to the Black Sea shore. The goal was to reconstruct the vegetational environments around the site during the Neolithization, which covers the period ca. 6300 - 5000 calBC. The on-site pollen and macrofossil data suggest that steppic environments shifted during the Mesolithic and Neolithic. This ecological change occurred in several steps. Firstly, drought-adapted Chenopodiaceae started to decline during the Mesolithic before 7000 - 6500 calBC, when moisture- loving plants such as ferns and mosses increased. Secondly, at ca. 7000 - 6500 calBC. Chenopodiaceae declined further and mesophilous Trifolium repens. and Achillea. expanded. Thirdly, moisture-loving communities peaked when Ranunculus acris, which also prefers nutrient-rich environments, expanded massively at the expense of Chenopodiaceae at around the Neolithic/Eneolithic transition between 5500 to 4500 calBC. Interestingly, the pollen record suggests that fruit and fodder trees such as Juglans regia, Quercus, Sorbus. and Aesculus expanded together with plants producing the Cerealia pollen type (likely indicative of crops), Plantago lanceolata and Urtica (weeds) at around 4500 - 4000 calBC. This vegetation pattern can be tentatively linked to Neolithic agriculture. However, the pollen signal is so weak that it cannot be unambiguously attributed to human activities. Dung fungi spores indicate the presence of large herbivores such as ruminants already during the Mesolithic. Vegetation-independent proxies from the Black Sea region suggest a wet period 7500 - 3500 calBC, peaking at 6500 - 4500 calBC. The available evidence thus suggests that the Neolithization process was facilitated by environmental changes that increased food availability (e. g. large herbivores, cereals, fruits) in the dry steppic environments around Kamyana Mohyla.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

de Capitani, Annick Flavia, Gobet, Erika, Schwörer, Christoph, van Leeuwen, Jacqueline Francisca, Nielsen, Ebbe Holm, Tinner, Willy


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)
900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)




IA NAS of Ukraine




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

13 Jun 2018 10:26

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:30

Uncontrolled Keywords:

steppic zone of the Ukraine; Kamyana Mohyla; Neolithization; рaleoecological analysis; vegetational environment; climate shifts




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