The pollen signal of early neolithic farming along a habitation gradient in northern Drenthe


  • S. Bottema
  • R.T.J. Cappers
  • A. Kloosterman


It is concluded from the uneven distribution of megalith graves (hunebedden) and the presence or absence of surface (settlement) finds in northern Drenthe that the inhabitants of the Funnel Beaker culture were not evenly distributed over the area. Habitation seems to concentrate on the highest part of the Hondsrug and less on the lands to the west. It was studied whether this habitation gradient is reflected in the human impact upon the vegetation. For this purpose sixteen pollen sites were investigated of which six gave information for the Early Neolithic. The Early Neolithic was selected by radiocarbon dating and analysed with high resolution. In the pollen analysis the role of the anthropogenic indicators throws doubt upon their value for the archaeological record. Pollen production, distribution and precipitation of Artemisia vulgaris have been studied from modern vegetation. Pollen evidence from the Early Neolithic at various elevations, ranging from three-and-halve to nine metres above Dutch Ordnance Level, demonstrate the differences in vegetation at short distances. No palynological gradient paralleling the archeological record could be found.

Suggestions for prehistoric cattle keeping are compared with the management of nature reserves with primitive breeds. Alder may well have profited from the prehistoric grazing whereas birch may have suffered from it.