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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access November 23, 2015

Phytolith aided paleoenvironmental studies fromthe Dutch Neolithic

  • Gergő Persaits , Sándor Gulyás , Katalin Náfrádi , Pál Sümegi and Csaba Szalontai
From the journal Open Geosciences


There is increasing evidence for crop cultivationat sites of the Neolithic Swifterbant culture fromca. 4300 B.C. onwards. Presence of cereal fields at theSwifterbant S2, S3 and S4 sites has been corroborated frommicro morphological studies of soil samples. Swifterbantsites with evidence for cultivated plants are still scarcethough and only emerging, and have produced very lownumbers of charred cereals only. The major aim of ourwork was to elucidate the environmental background ofthe Dutch Neolithic site Swifterbant S4 based on the investigationof phytolith remains retrieved from soil samples.In addition to find evidence for crop cultivation independentlyfrom other studies. Samples were taken at1 cm intervals vertically from the soil section at the centralprofile of site S4. Additional samples were taken frompocket-like structures and adjacent horizons above andbelow. Pig coprolites yielded an astonishing phytolith assemblagewhich was compared to that of the soil samples.A pig tooth also yielded evaluable material via detailed investigationusing SEM. The evaluation of phytolith assemblagesretrieved from the soil horizons plus those endingup in the droppings of pigs feasting in the area enabledto draw a relatively reliable environmental picture of thearea. All these refer to the presence of a Neolithic horticulture(cereal cultivation) under balanced micro-climaticconditions as a result of the vicinity of the nearby floodplain.These findings corroborate those of previous soilmicro-morphological studies.


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Received: 2014-06-23
Accepted: 2014-12-05
Published Online: 2015-11-23

©2015 G. Persaits et al.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

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