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Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1080/14614103.2018.1538087

Early and High Medieval (c. 650 AD–1250 AD) Charcoal Production and Its Impact on Woodland Composition in the Northwest-European Lowland: A Study of Charcoal Pit Kilns from Sterrebeek (Central Belgium)

04 Mar 2021-Environmental Archaeology (Informa UK Limited)-Vol. 26, Iss: 2, pp 168-178
Abstract: The study of charcoal production pits (pit kilns), excavated in central Belgium, provides information on Early and High Medieval woodland dynamics and human impact on the forest composition in the Northwest-European Lowland. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal recovered from the kilns demonstrates two different phases of charcoal production, one during the Early Medieval period (c. 650 AD-950 AD) and one during the High Medieval period (c. 1040 AD-1260 AD). Charcoal identification shows that the Early Medieval kilns are dominated by beech (Fagus sylvatica) while the younger kilns are dominated by oak (Quercus sp.), indicating a shift in woodland composition. This shift is likely to be a consequence of the earliest charcoal production activities, which resulted in the degradation of the primeval beech-dominated forest to a secondary forest dominated by oak, and intermixed with other more light-demanding taxa.

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Topics: Charcoal (57%), Woodland (51%), Secondary forest (51%)

7 results found

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1017/NJG.2020.11
Koen Deforce1, Jan Bastiaens, Philippe Crombé2, Ewoud Deschepper2  +5 moreInstitutions (3)
Abstract: The results from analyses of botanical remains (pollen, wood, charcoal, seeds) from several archaeological features excavated in Kluizen (northern Belgium) are presented. The region was largely uninhabited until the Iron Age and Roman period when a rural settlement was established, resulting in small-scale woodland clearance. The site was subsequently abandoned from c. AD 270 till the High Middle Ages. The results of the archaeological and archaeobotanical analyses provide information on changes in land use and resulting dynamics of woodland cover and composition between c.600 BC and AD 1200, with a spatial and temporal resolution unrivalled in northern Belgium. Especially the long period of woodland regeneration following abandonment of the site around AD 270, covering the Late Roman and Early Medieval period, could be reconstructed in detail. Abandoned fields were first covered with pioneer woodland (Salix, Corylus and Betula), then Quercus-dominated secondary forest and finally a late-successional forest with Fagus sylvatica, Carpinus betulus and Ilex aquifolium, an evolution that took over 300 years. The results also indicate that the observed increase of Fagus during the Early Middle Ages, which was never an important element in the woodland vegetation in northern Belgium before, was related to climatic changes rather than anthropogenic factors.

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Topics: Woodland (63%), Secondary forest (55%), Beech (51%)

9 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.JAS.2020.105176
Abstract: Ancient forests all over Europe often preserve remains of (pre)historic charcoal production (kilns), informing on past forest composition and anthropogenic woodland exploitation So far, the chronology of these features has been entirely derived from 14C-dating of associated charcoal Though generally successful, 14C-dating cannot provide meaningful age information for post-1650 CE features, while most of the archaeological remains of charcoal kilns date to this period Here, we investigate the potential of quartz-based optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of sediments that were heated during charcoal production as a more precise alternative tool for age determination of these kilns Using a set of 14 samples collected from both relict charcoal kilns and the underlying parent material, we first document the quartz OSL characteristics in terms of the procedural tests commonly used to assess the appropriateness of the single-aliquot regenerative-dose (SAR) protocol The results suggest that the measurement procedure allows determining equivalent doses both accurately and precisely We then demonstrate how the linear part of the dose-response curve can be exploited to examine completeness of resetting and/or post-depositional disturbance without compromising instrument time, precision and laboratory accuracy Optical ages derived from these distributions are consistent with the available independent (14C) age information for the charcoal kilns We conclude that OSL can provide an accurate and viable alternative to 14C and will be especially useful to constrain post-1650 CE features in time Our results also suggest that the approach may allow establishing relative chronologies with a time resolution of 2–4%

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6 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1111/JVS.12923
Abstract: QUESTIONS: Long‐term legacies of historical human activities in temperate forests are increasingly recognised as an important driver of vegetation diversity and composition. To uncover centuries‐old legacies, novel approaches are, however, needed. Here, we combine anthracology of historical charcoal kilns and long‐term vegetation resurveys. We asked whether the historical coppicing oriented on charcoal production affected tree‐species composition and how the forest understorey vegetation changed after the coppicing was abandoned. LOCATION: Temperate broadleaved forests in the Slovak Karst National Park, central Europe. METHODS: To explore the historical forest structure and long‐term changes in tree composition, we sampled charcoal remains from 28 historical kilns, identified the burnt tree taxa and estimated the original diameter of the burnt wood. To analyse the vegetation changes over the last four decades, we resurveyed plant composition of 60 quasi‐permanent plots established in 1975. RESULTS: Historical charcoal burning was associated with coppicing, which decreased Fagus sylvatica dominance and favoured Quercus spp. in the tree layer. Several decades after the abandonment of coppicing, we observed the decline of Quercus spp. and spread of shade‐casting tree species with nutrient‐rich litter. This probably triggered the identified demise of light‐demanding species, the spread of nitrophytes and taxonomic homogenisation of the forest understorey. CONCLUSIONS: The shift from historical coppicing to current high‐forest management was likely a main driver of the observed taxonomic homogenisation and decline of light‐demanding plants, as in other European lowland forests. Long‐term data from charcoal kilns showed, however, that closed‐canopy forests dominated by beech were historically more common and observed changes in vegetation thus represent a natural process. Findings also suggest that coppicing taking place over centuries enhanced diversity of forest understorey vegetation. Our novel approach combining a vegetation resurvey and charcoal kiln anthracology thus uncovered otherwise hidden links between current biological processes and the historical human legacies, with consequent important implications for nature protection and management.

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Topics: Anthracology (58%), Coppicing (56%), Vegetation (55%) ... show more

6 Citations


34 results found

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.2458/AZU_JS_RC.55.16947
Paula J. Reimer1, Edouard Bard2, Alex Bayliss3, J. Warren Beck4  +26 moreInstitutions (20)
01 Jan 2009-Radiocarbon
Abstract: Additional co-authors: TJ Heaton, AG Hogg, KA Hughen, KF Kaiser, B Kromer, SW Manning, RW Reimer, DA Richards, JR Southon, S Talamo, CSM Turney, J van der Plicht, CE Weyhenmeyer

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13,118 Citations

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.17265/2159-5313/2016.09.003
28 Sep 2016-Philosophy study
Abstract: There has been a shift from the general presumption that “doctor knows best” to a heightened respect for patient autonomy. Medical ethics remains one-sided, however. It tends (incorrectly) to interpret patient autonomy as mere participation in decisions, rather than a willingness to take the consequences. In this respect, medical ethics remains largely paternalistic, requiring doctors to protect patients from the consequences of their decisions. This is reflected in a one-sided account of duties in medical ethics. Medical ethics may exempt patients from obligations because they are the weaker or more vulnerable party in the doctor-patient relationship. We argue that vulnerability does not exclude obligation. We also look at others ways in which patients’ responsibilities flow from general ethics: for instance, from responsibilities to others and to the self, from duties of citizens, and from the responsibilities of those who solicit advice. Finally, we argue that certain duties of patients counterbalance an otherwise unfair captivity of doctors as helpers.

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Topics: Nursing ethics (83%), Medical ethics (65%)

9,859 Citations

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1017/S0033822200033865
Christopher Bronk Ramsey1Institutions (1)
01 Jan 2009-Radiocarbon
Abstract: If radiocarbon measurements are to be used at all for chronological purposes, we have to use statistical methods for calibration. The most widely used method of calibration can be seen as a simple application of Bayesian statistics, which uses both the information from the new measurement and information from the 14C calibration curve. In most dating applications, however, we have larger numbers of 14C measurements and we wish to relate those to events in the past. Bayesian statistics provides a coherent framework in which such analysis can be performed and is becoming a core element in many 14C dating projects. This article gives an overview of the main model components used in chronological analysis, their mathematical formulation, and examples of how such analyses can be performed using the latest version of the OxCal software (v4). Many such models can be put together, in a modular fashion, from simple elements, with defined constraints and groupings. In other cases, the commonly used "uniform phase" models might not be appropriate, and ramped, exponential, or normal distributions of events might be more useful. When considering analyses of these kinds, it is useful to be able run simulations on synthetic data. Methods for performing such tests are discussed here along with other methods of diagnosing possible problems with statistical models of this kind.

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5,272 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.QUASCIREV.2009.09.028
Abstract: Humans have transformed Europe's landscapes since the establishment of the first agricultural societies in the mid-Holocene The most important anthropogenic alteration of the natural environment was the clearing of forests to establish cropland and pasture, and the exploitation of forests for fuel wood and construction materials While the archaeological and paleoecological record documents the time history of anthropogenic deforestation at numerous individual sites, to study the effect that prehistoric and preindustrial deforestation had on continental-scale carbon and water cycles we require spatially explicit maps of changing forest cover through time Previous attempts to map preindustrial anthropogenic land use and land cover change addressed only the recent past, or relied on simplistic extrapolations of present day land use patterns to past conditions In this study we created a very high resolution, annually resolved time series of anthropogenic deforestation in Europe over the past three millennia by 1) digitizing and synthesizing a database of population history for Europe and surrounding areas, 2) developing a model to simulate anthropogenic deforestation based on population density that handles technological progress, and 3) applying the database and model to a gridded dataset of land suitability for agriculture and pasture to simulate spatial and temporal trends in anthropogenic deforestation Our model results provide reasonable estimations of deforestation in Europe when compared to historical accounts We simulate extensive European deforestation at 1000 BC, implying that past attempts to quantify anthropogenic perturbation of the Holocene carbon cycle may have greatly underestimated early human impact on the climate system

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Topics: Land use (55%), Population (52%), Land cover (52%) ... show more

624 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.JAS.2008.07.005
Abstract: We overview the recent development of oak dendrochronology in Europe related to archaeology and art-history. Tree-ring series of European oaks ( Quercus robur and Q. petraea ) have provided a reliable framework for chronometric dating and reconstruction of past climate and environment. To date, long oak chronologies cover almost the entire Holocene, up to 8480 BC and the network over the entire area in which the two oaks grow is being improved. We present the main characteristics of oak ring series and discuss the latest methodological advances in defining the calendar year in which the tree-rings were formed and in interpreting such dating in terms of the age of a wooden object. Dendrochronology has established itself as a standard dating tool and has been applied in a wide variety of (pre-)historical studies. Archaeological wood, historical buildings, works of art (such as panel paintings and sculptures) have been successfully investigated. Recent advances in dendro-provenancing have helped to obtain more information on the timber trade in the past. Information on past forest structures, silviculture and timber use have become available through scrutinizing historical and contemporary ring-width patterns.

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Topics: Dendroarchaeology (59%), Dendrochronology (57%)

182 Citations