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Schoch W.H.,Laboratory for Quaternary Wood Research | Bigga G.,University of Tubingen | Bohner U.,Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage | Richter P.,Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage | Terberger T.,Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2015

The Paleolithic site of Schöningen is famous for the earliest known, completely preserved wooden weapons. Here we present recent results of an ongoing analysis of the nine spears, one lance, a double pointed stick, and a burnt stick dating to the Holsteinian, c. 300 kyr. Macroscopic and microscopic analyses, as well as studies of thin sections, contribute to a better understanding of the manufacture of the wooden weapons. They were deposited in organic sediments at a former lakeshore among numerous bones of butchered horses. In general, the spears are extremely well-preserved and show no or little sign of taphonomic alteration, although some of the weapons are broken and parts were slightly moved, probably by water action. The excellent preservation conditions provide considerable information on the operational sequence of production. The hunters selected thin trunks of spruce or pine and initially stripped off the bark. Traces of cutting, scraping, and smoothing can be observed on the spear surfaces in detail. In the case of spear X, repeated use of the weapon is implied by re-sharpening of the tip. Analyses of wood anatomy provide information on climatic conditions and contribute to the better understanding of the development of the site. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Eckstein J.,University of Gottingen | Leuschner H.H.,University of Gottingen | Giesecke T.,University of Gottingen | Shumilovskikh L.,University of Gottingen | Bauerochse A.,Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage
Holocene | Year: 2010

Excellently preserved subfossil pine and oak tree remains from the bottom layer of raised bog peat were dendroecologically investigated at Venner Moor (northwest Germany). Tree-ring analyses were combined with observations of stem and root morphology, preservation state, mineral soil relief, peat stratigraphy and pollen analysis to reconstruct in great detail environmental changes leading to the start of the raised bog formation. Hydrology was identified as the main determinant influencing tree growth and population dynamics at Venner Moor, as documented by different growth patterns and dying-off dates in relation to the mineral soil elevation. The woodland phase has been dendrochronological dated to the period from 2421-2077 BC (4371-4027 cal BP). In this period, a general change from more or less open landscape with dominating heath to wet pine forest and eventually to open raised bog occurred at the site. Comparisons with pine population dynamics at the nearby Voerdener Moor and with the independent Lower Saxony Bog Oak Chronology (LSBOC) indicate that the reconstructed ecological changes at Venner Moor are mainly triggered by climate variations, in particular wet shifts on the decadal timescale. This example shows the value of subfossil pine layers from northwest German bogs as a high resolution proxy archive of Holocene humidity fluctuations.

Pestka J.M.,University of Hamburg | Barvencik F.,University of Hamburg | Beil F.T.,University of Hamburg | Marshall R.P.,University of Hamburg | And 6 more authors.
Naturwissenschaften | Year: 2010

Although numerous bodies were deposited in Western European bogs in the past centuries, few were found and underwent archeological analysis. No studies comparing skeletal structure and mineralization of bog bodies from different ages have been performed to this day. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze and compare skeletal features and specifics of the human remains of three bog bodies from the Iron and Middle Ages found in Northern European peat bogs. Demineralization due to the acidic environment in peat bogs was comparably pronounced in all three bodies. Still, the macroscopic state of skeletal preservation was excellent. In addition to contact radiography, we used peripheral quantitative computed tomography to measure cortical bone mineral density. The conservation of skeletal three-dimensional microstructural elements was assessed by high-resolution microcomputed tomography analysis. These techniques revealed severe differences in bone mineral density and enabled us to determine handedness in all three bodies. Additionally, unique skeletal features like intravital bone lesions, immobilization osteoporosis, and Harris lines were found. A deformity of the left femoral head was observed which had the typical appearance of an advanced stage of Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. This study gives detailed insight into the skeletal microstructure and microarchitecture of 800- to 2,700-year-old bog bodies. Skeletal analysis enables us to draw conclusions not only concerning changes in the acidic environment of the bog, but also serves as a diagnostic tool to unravel life circumstances and diseases suffered by humans in the Iron and Middle Ages. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

Eckstein J.,University of Gottingen | Leuschner H.H.,University of Gottingen | Bauerochse A.,Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage
Journal of Vegetation Science | Year: 2011

Question: Can investigations of subfossil bog-pine woodlands contribute to the understanding of mire development, especially the influence of climate fluctuations on the fen-bog transition? Location: Lowlands of northwest Germany. Methods: We investigated pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) tree remains (stumps and trunks) buried in peat deposits. Dendrochronology was used to date each sampled tree to calendar years and to reconstruct population dynamics of the pine woodlands. Ecological changes, especially changes in site hydrology during the pine woodland phases were inferred from peat stratigraphic analyses and investigations of stem and root morphology of the tree remains. Results: The subfossil pine woodlands occurred mostly during the transition from fen to raised bog conditions within the mire development. The population dynamics are strikingly wave-like whereas woodland phases of 100 to 250 years duration are separated by much shorter (10-50 years) phases of high germination and dying-off rates (GDO phases). Such GDO phases are often synchronous at different sites and are also linked to growth depressions of the independent regional oak master chronology (LSBOC), indicating a climate trigger. Conclusions: The development of raised bogs started about 7000 BC and had a main phase between 5100 and 3600 BC in northwest Germany. The subfossil bog-pine woodlands document the transitional phase towards the onset of raised bog formation, as characterized by initial dry conditions that were followed by increasing wetness of the sites, whereas this development is at least partly the result of climate variations. © 2011 International Association for Vegetation Science.

Shumilovskikh L.S.,University of Gottingen | Shumilovskikh L.S.,Aix - Marseille University | Schlutz F.,Lower Saxony Institute for Historical Coastal Research | Achterberg I.,University of Gottingen | And 3 more authors.
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology | Year: 2015

Several laboratory experiments and field observations demonstrate that saprotrophic and ectomycorrhizal fungi effectively use pollen cytoplasm and suggest pollen produced by wind-pollinated trees as a crucial nutrient source for fungi and their plant hosts in nutrient-limited environments. However, the role of such interactions is still underestimated or neglected in ecology and paleoecology. Here, we consider pollen attacked by fungi in palynological records from Holocene raised peat bogs as a nutrient source for ecosystems in the past. The attacks occurred through the pollen germination areas by a variety of saprotrophic, ericoid mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal or dark septate endophyte fungi. Large amounts of attacked pollen in phases rich in Calluna vulgaris highlight the importance of Ericaceae shrubs, hosting ericoid mycorrhizal fungi and forming hotspots of decomposition in nutrient-deficit bogs. Applying estimations of pollen rain from literature, and based on own observed pollen infection rates we estimate the annual release of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium from pollen, and highlight their significance in pushing the ecosystem nutrient cycle in early spring time, when several species release their pollen. We highlight the significant role of anthropogenic changes in pollen deposition for pre-industrial bogs and hypothesize about the consequences of the pollen-based interrelation between wind-pollinated plants and their mycorrhizal fungi in paleoecology and evolution. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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