Middens, currents and shorelines: Complex depositional processes of waterlogged prehistoric lakeside settlements based on the example of Zurich-Parkhaus Opéra (Switzerland)

Bleicher, Niels; Antolín, Ferran; Heiri, Oliver; Häberle, Simone; Plogmann, Heide Hüster; Jacomet, Stefanie; Pümpin, Christine; Rentzel, Philippe; Schäfer, Marguerita; Schibler, Jörg; Wiemann, Philipp; van Hardenbroek, Maarten Reinier; Toth, Monika; Zweifel, Noëmi (2018). Middens, currents and shorelines: Complex depositional processes of waterlogged prehistoric lakeside settlements based on the example of Zurich-Parkhaus Opéra (Switzerland). Journal of archaeological science, 97, pp. 26-41. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jas.2018.06.010

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Circumalpine lakeside settlements have been declared Unesco world heritage in 2011. Their importance is mainly due to waterlogged preservation of organic material and hence the outstanding potential of these sites for performing detailed archaeological studies of prehistoric societies. However, the details of the taphonomic processes (depositional environment, development of anoxia, lateral or vertical displacement of objects, etc.) have rarely been studied. Consequently, interpretations based on find distributions or comparisons of find densities remain difficult. Zurich-Parkhaus Opéra is a large-scale excavation of waterlogged Neolithic settlement deposits. Eight settlement phases of the late fourth and early third millennium BC were documented and dated using dendrochronology as well as six settlement layers, two of which showed excellent organic preservation. Based on a large number of sediment samples we conducted a multidisciplinary study in taphonomic processes influencing these layers. Our results indicate that a multi-indicator approach can provide detailed information on formation processes of waterlogged cultural layers. We found that 1) aquatic invertebrate remains and geotechnical calculations gave evidence for continuous shallow water conditions and eutrophic/anoxic deposition environment during occupation of the site. 2) Position and distribution of finds and loam patches indicate that disposal of household waste was focused on middens, which were still intact. 3) High variability in sediment contents (both spatially and in terms of state of preservation) is due to different factors such as oxygen depletion, deposition rate, erosion and enrichment of different materials, while all factors can affect each other resulting in highly complex formation processes.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Heiri, Oliver; van Hardenbroek, Maarten Reinier; Toth, Monika and Zweifel, Noëmi

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0305-4403

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

12 Oct 2018 12:38

Last Modified:

12 Oct 2018 17:11

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.jas.2018.06.010

Uncontrolled Keywords:

lake side settlements; multi-proxy investigation; waterlogged; late neolithic; taphonomy; site formation processes; anoxic preservation

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.120414

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/120414

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