Transforming landscapes : Modeling land-use patterns of environmental borderlands

How did socio-cultural transformation processes change land-use patterns? Throughout the last 50 years, outstanding comprehensive geographic, archaeobiological, and archaeological data have been produced for the area of Oldenburger Graben, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Based on this exceptional data set, we are able to study the land-use patterns for a period ranging from the Final Mesolithic until the Late Neolithic (4600–1700 BCE). By application of fuzzy modeling techniques, these patterns are investigated diachronically in order to assess the scale of transformations between the different archaeological phases. Based on nutrient requirements and proposed dietary composition estimates derived from empirical archaeobotanical, archaeozoological, and stable isotope data, the required extent of the areas for different land-use practices are modeled. This information is made spatially explicit using a fuzzy model that reconstructs areas of potential vegetation and land-use for each transformation phase. Pollen data are used to validate the type and extent of land-use categories. The model results are used to test hypotheses on the dynamics of socio-cultural transformations: can we observe a diversification of land-use patterns over time or does continuity of land-use practices prevail? By integrating the different lines of evidence within a spatially explicit modeling approach, we reach a new quality of data analysis with a high degree of contextualization. This allows testing of hypotheses about Neolithic transformation processes by an explicit adjustment of our model assumptions, variables, and parameters.


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