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

Bleicher, Niels and Antolín, Ferran and Heiri, Oliver and Häberle, Simone and Hüster-Plogmann, Heide and Jacomet, Stefanie and Pümpin, Christine and Rentzel, Philippe and Schäfer, Marguerita and Schibler, Jörg and Wiemann, Philipp and van Hardenbroek, Maarten and Toth, Monika and 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.

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Abstract

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.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Prähistorische und Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie (IPNA) > Archäobotanik (Antolin)
UniBasel Contributors:Antolin, Ferran and Heiri, Oliver and Häberle, Simone and Hüster Plogmann, Heidemarie and Jacomet, Stefanie and Pümpin, Christine and Rentzel, Philippe and Schäfer, Marguerita and Schibler, Jörg M. and Wiemann, Philipp
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0305-4403
e-ISSN:1095-9238
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:15 Oct 2019 09:50
Deposited On:15 Oct 2019 09:50

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