• History of the Environment and Population of the Old Town of Klaipėda, Western Lithuania: Multidisciplinary Approach to the Last Millennium

      Kisielienė, Dalia; Masiulienė, Ieva; Daugnora, Linas; Stančikaitė, Miglė; Mažeika, Jonas; Vaikutienė, Giedrė; Petrošius, Rimantas (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Progressive stages in the development of the Old Town region of the city of Klaipėda (in German, Memel) were ascertained by analyzing archaeological and historical data combined with an analysis of pollen, diatom, plant macrofossil, and osteological findings as cross-referenced with radiocarbon measurements. The port city of Klaipëda, located on the eastern part of the Baltic Sea, was an important political, economic, and religious center during the last millennium. In addition to its environmental history, the character of human activity and urbanization of the area during the 16th–17th centuries AD were examined. The chronology of these records is based on archaeological, historical, and 14C data. The results obtained indicate the predominance of a wet boggy environment and the presence of a pond in the investigated territory of Klaipëda during the late 15th and early 16th centuries AD. The formation of a new Danė River channel created an island town, resulting in a defensible residual area for the town inhabitants. An ongoing deposition of a cultural layer began in the mid-16th century AD. Rich zooarchaeological data found in this layer provided new details on human diet and exposed a predominance of domestic animals, especially cattle. Due to intensive amelioration of this area, layers of sandy and clayey deposits were formed during the second half of the 16th century AD. A significant presence of cultivars, ruderals, and weeds were recorded, indicating substantial human activity and increasing urbanization of the landscape. According to the paleobotanical, archaeo-logical, and historical data, the culmination of this process took place at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries AD, when residential areas were established.
    • New Archaeological, Paleoenvironmental, and 14C Data from the Šventoji Neolithic Sites, NW Lithuania

      Piličiauskas, Gytis; Mažeika, Jonas; Gaidamavičius, Andrejus; Vaikutienė, Giedrė; Bitinas, Albertas; Skuratovič, Žana; Stančikaitė, Miglė (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Archaeological, geological, and paleoecological investigations supported by radiocarbon dating enabled us to present a reconstruction of chronologically based paleoenvironmental and human activity changes in the Šventoji region, NW Lithuania, during the period 4000–800 cal BC. In addition, we describe the main stages of the Late Glacial and Holocene periods in the area. The Baltic Ice Lake regression was succeeded by a terrestrial period until the Littorina Sea maximal transgression at 5700–5400 cal BC. A marine bay with brackish water was transformed into a freshwater lagoon before the oldest archaeological evidence of human presence, i.e. 4000/3700 cal BC. However, the presence of Cerealia type and Plantago lanceolata pollen dating back to about 4400–4300 cal BC suggests earlier farming activities in the area. Pollen analyses show the minor but continuous role of cereal cultivation after 3250 cal BC. Due to the predominance of the boggy landscape in the immediate vicinity of the Šventoji sites, agricultural fields were situated further away from the sites themselves. Exploitation of remote areas of the freshwater basin by diverse fishing gear was proven by the discovery of a new fishing site, Šventoji 41 (2900–2600 cal BC). This finding together with data of previous research suggest a complex and elaborate coastal economy involving seal hunting and year-round freshwater fishing during the 3rd millennium cal BC. A decline in human activity is seen in the pollen diagram after 1800 cal BC, which could be due to significant environmental changes, including overgrowth of the freshwater lagoon basin with vegetation.