Plant macroremains from an early Neolithic site in eastern Kuyavia, central Poland

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Abstract

The study examined plant remains from the Smólsk 2/10 site, situated on the border of two different landscapes and preserving traces of Neolithic occupation from several cultures: Early Linear Pottery culture (LBK, ca 5300-5200 cal. BC to ca 5000 cal. BC). Stroke Band Pottery culture (SBP, ca 4700-4400 cal. BC), the Brześć Kujawski group of Lengyel culture (BKG, ca 4500-4000/3900 cal. BC), Funnel Beaker culture (TRB, ca 3950-3380 BC), and also some features of the Lusatian culture (Hallstatt C, ca 970-790 cal. BC).

Mostly hulled wheat remains (Triticum monococcum, T. dicoccum) were found in the LBK, SBP, and BKG cultures; they were completely absent in younger cultures (TRB, Lusatian), where barley remains appeared. Among other plants the most numerous were remains of small-grain grasses (mostly cf. Hierochloë type), feather grass (Stipa sp.), wild buckwheat (Fallopia convolvulus), and goosefoot (Chenopodium album type), but the plant remains are relatively scarce.

The archaeobotanical data obtained from the site supplement data from neighbouring Osłonki to the west and Wolica Nowa to the north-west. The differences between those microregions are reflected mostly in the earlier appearance of feather grass (Stipa sp.) in the Smólsk area as well as the higher quantity of crop chaff remains in the Osłonki area, but their random occurrence, along with the fragmentariness of the archaeological data, must be taken into account. However, intentional introduction of feather grass by the first Neolithic settlers in eastern Kuyavia cannot be excluded. The relatively high proportion of small-grain grasses, usually interpreted as traces of fodder, together with the scarcity of crop remains at the Wolica Nowa site, suggests that the site was connected more with animal husbandry than with agriculture. On the other hand, the small-grain grasses at Smólsk are represented mainly by a large number of non-weedy grass (cf. Hierochloë type) grains from the crop sample, which cannot be explained in a simple way.

A comparison of the anthracological data from the Osłonki and Smólsk microregions reveals differences in woodland management and differences between the local environments. Pine wood was more accessible at Smólsk than at Osłonki, due to local landscape characteristics.

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