New Study Unravels Middle Bronze Age Farming Techniques in Germany’s Western Allgäu

New Study Unravels Middle Bronze Age Farming Techniques in Germany’s Western Allgäu

A recent study has provided fascinating insights into the subsistence farming practices of the Middle Bronze Age (MBA) in SW-Germany’s Western Allgäu region. Utilizing a multidisciplinary approach, the research team combined archaeological evidence with sedimentary and biogeochemical analysis to reconstruct the ancient farming activities in this historically significant area.

The research focused on multi-layered colluvial and alluvial deposits near MBA settlements. These deposits were dated using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) techniques and AMS radiocarbon measurements of charcoal, providing a detailed chronostratigraphic framework. The study revealed phases of deposition and land use during the MBA, correlating with recently excavated inland settlements in the region.  Multi-proxy investigations helped in reconstructing the subsistence farming practices of the era.

The results showed that the MBA economy in Western Allgäu was extensive and diversified. This reflects an adaptation of the MBA farmers to the harsh climatic conditions of the region, where crop yields were less predictable compared to other areas like near Lake Constance. The accumulation of charcoal and PAHs in MBA-related colluvial horizons is most likely associated with the use of fire to maintain an open landscape. Additionally, increased urease activity and the appearance of Juniperus indicate the importance of livestock farming within the MBA subsistence.

This study offers new perspectives on the subsistence strategies of MBA societies in agriculturally less favorable areas, providing a comprehensive understanding of ancient agricultural practices in the northern Alpine foreland. The findings have significant implications for our knowledge of Bronze Age farming and settlement patterns in the region.

References: 

Scherer, S., Höpfer, B., Deckers, K., Fuchs, M., Kandeler, E., Lehndorff, E., Lomax, J., Marhan, S., Poll, C., Wroth, K., Knopf, T., Scholten, T., Kühn, P., 2023. Archaeopedological reconstruction of Middle Bronze Age subsistence farming in SW-Germany from sedimentary archives in the Western Allgäu. Geoderma Regional (35). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geodrs.2023.e00715

New Insights into Historical Mining Activities in Tarnowskie Góry, Poland

New Insights into Historical Mining Activities in Tarnowskie Góry, Poland

A recent study has provided fresh details on the historical mining activities in Tarnowskie Góry, Poland, dating back to as early as the 10th century. Researchers used a combination of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS), Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL), and dendrochronology to determine the age of mining shaft remains in the post-exploitation field of this region known for its lead ore and silver extraction from the 12th to the 20th centuries.

The AMS method yielded 12 results, with the majority of the dates ranging from 1435 to 1645 cal AD, aligning with the most intense mining period in the 16th century. However, two results pointed to significantly older periods, suggesting earlier mining activities potentially dating back to the beginnings of the Polish State. Dendrochronological analysis of construction wood found in the mines corroborated these radiocarbon dates.

OSL dating, on the other hand, provided much older dates ranging from 2.5 ka BP to 216 ka BP. These results were considered overestimated due to probable issues with the luminescence signal not being reset during sediment redeposition. Despite this, the quality of the luminescence signal was reported as satisfactory.

References:

Pawełczyk, F., Bolik, A., Błachut, B., Kamińska, A., Opała-Owczarek, M., Malik, I., Wojcik, M., Zakrzewska, Z., Pawlak, Z., Poręba, G., 2023. Development of Chronology for Historical Mining Shaft Remains in the Vicinity of Tarnowskie Góry Based on Radiocarbon, Luminescence and Dendrochronological Dating. Geochronometria (50). https://doi.org/10.2478/geochr-2023-0004

New Method Speeds Up Dating of Thar Desert Dunes

New Method Speeds Up Dating of Thar Desert Dunes

In a recent study, Nitundil et al. (2023) are exploring the potential of an innovative technique to rapidly estimate the age of dunes in India’s Thar Desert, significantly speeding up the process. The study primarily utilized a portable optically stimulated luminescence (POSL) reader, drastically reducing the analysis time to around 5 minutes per sample.

The findings indicate an eastward movement of the dunes, with the eastern sides being younger and accumulating sand at a faster rate. This new method not only provides a faster way to study the desert’s shifting landscape but also offers insights into environmental changes over time.

Additionally, the article mentions a comparison between the results obtained from the μDose system and the traditional Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). The two methods showed consistency within the margin of uncertainty, validating the reliability of the μDose system in supporting the POSL reader for rapid age assessments.

This innovative approach is set to transform the way researchers study and understand desert dynamics, providing a quick, reliable, and accessible means to track and predict changes in sensitive environments like the Thar Desert.

References:

Nitundil, S., Stone, A., Srivastava, A., 2023. Applicability of using portable luminescence reader for rapid age-assessments of dune accumulation in the Thar desert, India. Quaternary Geochronology (78). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quageo.2023.101468

μDOSE System for Hazard Indices Estimation

μDOSE System for Hazard Indices Estimation

A recent publication by Rocznik et al. (2023) demonstrated the μDOSE’s capability in accurately estimating various hazard indices (HI), including activity concentration index, radium equivalent activity, representative level index, absorbed and annual gamma dose rates, gamma effective indices, and both external and internal radiation hazard indices. This research highlights the new possibilities offered by the μDOSE system, particularly in measuring HI in small samples of just 3.00 grams. The estimation of HI was based on α and β particles, as well as decay pairs of 220Rn/216Po, 219Rn/215Po, 212Bi/212Po, and 214Bi/214Po. This method provided correlated radionuclide estimates. By taking this correlation into account, HI can be calculated with increased precision. The hazard indices measured were then compared with the results from high-resolution gamma spectrometry.

Activity concentration index value uncertainty as a function of measurement time for HRGS (100 g samples) and μDOSE system (3.00 g samples) (from Rocznik et al., 2023)

References:

Rocznik, J., Pluta, J., Tudyka, K., Poręba, G., Szymak, A., 2023. A new fast screening method for estimating building materials hazard indices with correlated inputs. J Radioanal Nucl Chem. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10967-023-09197-5

New Publication Utilizes μDose Measurements to Study Archaeological Site in Idaho

New Publication Utilizes μDose Measurements to Study Archaeological Site in Idaho

Scenic view of the Lochsa River in the Clearwater Forest of Idaho (United States) This photo was provided by and used with permission of the Idaho Travel Council ([1]) Please credit the Idaho Travel Council when used (licensed under CC BY 2.5)

Researchers have published preliminary findings from their reinvestigation of the Kelly Forks Work Center Site (10CW34), an archaeological site located on the North Fork Clearwater River in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, Idaho. The site, which dates back to the late Pleistocene to late Holocene period, was previously thought to contain components associated with the Western Stemmed Tradition.

The researchers utilized μDose for assessing dose rates for trapped charge dating. This allowed to assess the stratigraphy and geochronology of the site, as well as to study traditional Nez Perce use of the Clearwater River drainage. Their findings provide new insights into the site’s history and cultural significance.

Further research is needed to fully uncover the site’s potential and deepen our understanding of the region’s prehistoric human activity.

Justin A. Holcomb, Aayush Srivastava, Timothy C. Kinnaird & John C. Blong (2023) Revisiting Kelly Forks (10CW34): Current and Future Research at a Western Stemmed Tradition Occupation in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, Idaho, USA, PaleoAmerica, 9:1, 76-80, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/20555563.2023.2171745

New Interdisciplinary Study Uncovers Prehistoric Rural Settlement and Landscape Development in Northern Bavaria

New Interdisciplinary Study Uncovers Prehistoric Rural Settlement and Landscape Development in Northern Bavaria

A new interdisciplinary study on rural settlement and landscape development in northern Bavaria, Germany has been published. The study involved archaeological and geoarchaeological investigations supported by radiocarbon dating, optically stimulated luminescence dating (OSL), and palaeoecological analysis. The researchers aimed to identify unknown prehistoric rural settlement sites, determine site-specific soil erosion from colluvial deposits, and assess the composition of woodland from on- and offsite charcoal finds.

Figure adapted from Kothieringer et al. (2023).

The earliest evidence of human activities dates back to the Younger Neolithic period, while the Middle to Late Bronze Age (ca. 1400–800 B.C.E.) was marked by permanent rural settlement in a German central upland region. The researchers noted a peak in the Late Bronze Age, which they attributed to varying thicknesses of Bronze Age colluvial deposits, indicating land use practices that triggered soil erosion. The study also showed that Maloideae, ash, and birch were successional indicators after fire clearance during that period.

The settlement continued until the 5th century B.C.E, with a hiatus of 500 years before re-flourishing in the Late Roman and Migration periods (mid-3rd–5th century C.E.) and continuing into the Medieval period.

The study provides valuable insights into the prehistoric rural settlement and landscape development in northern Bavaria, and highlights the potential of OSL method with μDose measurements in archaeological research.

Kothieringer K., Seregély T., Jansen D., Steup R., Schäfer A., Lambers K., & Fuchs M. (2023). Mid- to Late Holocene landscape dynamics and rural settlement in the uplands of northern Bavaria, Germany. Geoarcheology, 38, 220– 245. https://doi.org/10.1002/gea.21952

New Study Provides Absolute Dates for Artifacts from Lusatian Urnfield Cemetery at Brzezie, Greater Poland

New Study Provides Absolute Dates for Artifacts from Lusatian Urnfield Cemetery at Brzezie, Greater Poland

Archaeologists have made a step toward uncovering the history of the Lusatian Urnfield Cemetery at Brzezie in the Pleszew region of Greater Poland. After many years of fieldwork, including geophysical prospecting and excavation, materials for radiocarbon and luminescence dating were collected to determine the absolute chronology of the site.

In a study four samples were dated using OSL. The luminescence dating was made possible by measuring the dose rates in small archaeological samples using the innovative uDOSE system. The results reveal an agreement between radiocarbon and OSL dating methods, providing a date range of 1000-500 BC.

This new study provides valuable insights into the history of the Lusatian Urnfield Cemetery at Brzezie and the uDOSE system helped to provide a more accurate estimate of the dose rates for OSL dating.

Ginter, A.; Moska, P.; Poręba, G.; Tudyka, K.; Szymak, A.; Szczurek, G. Absolute Dates of Artifacts from Lusatian Urnfield Cemetery at Brzezie, Greater Poland. Radiocarbon 2022, 64 (6), 1471–1482. https://doi.org/10.1017/RDC.2022.70

Study Examines Impact of Internal Dose Rates on Luminescence Dating Results in Quartz Grains with uDOSE System

Study Examines Impact of Internal Dose Rates on Luminescence Dating Results in Quartz Grains with uDOSE System

A new study (Szymak et al., 2022) has examined the impact of internal alpha and beta dose rates in quartz grains obtained from sandy sediments on the results of luminescence dating. The internal dose rates, which range from 0.01-0.21 Gy/ky, play a non-negligible role in determining the accuracy of luminescence dating results, especially when the external dose rates are low.

To measure the internal and external dose rates in quartz grains, the researchers used the innovative uDOSE system. The findings of the study showed that ignoring the contribution of the internal dose rates could result in artificially older luminescence ages.

Szymak, Agnieszka, Moska, Piotr, Poręba, Grzegorz, Tudyka, Konrad and Adamiec, Grzegorz. „The Internal Dose Rate in Quartz Grains: Experimental Data and Consequences for Luminescence Dating” Geochronometria, vol.49, no.1, 2022, pp.9-17. https://doi.org/10.2478/geochr-2022-0002

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Described in Archaeometry https://doi.org/10.1111/arcm.12828

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µDose system application in OSL dating for establishing land use practices in the Middle Bronze Age

µDose system application in OSL dating for establishing land use practices in the Middle Bronze Age

A reconstruction of land use practices that were performed in the Middle Bronze Age in north-western Alpine foreland was conducted by Scherer et al., (2021). It includes a reconstruction of the colluvial deposition phases obtained through OSL and AMS C-14 dating of the deposits and archaeological data. For OSL dating isotope dose rates (U-238, Th-232, K-40) were established using thick source alpha-counting and the µDose System.

Scherer, S., Höpfer, B., Deckers, K., Fischer, E., Fuchs, M., Kandeler, E., … Kühn, P. (2021). Middle Bronze Age land use practices in the northwestern Alpine foreland – a multi-proxy study of colluvial deposits, archaeological features and peat bogs. SOIL, 7(1), 269–304. https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-7-269-2021

(by J. Rocznik)