‘Adaptive cycles’ and climate fluctuations: a case study from Linear Pottery Culture in western Central Europe

Stephan.Dietrich [ at ] awi.de


Linear Pottery Culture (LBK) are investigated. These are interpreted as resulting from a combination of internal socio-economic processes as well as external environmental parameters. Resilience theory is helpful in understanding periods of increased vulnerability and inherent trends to social complexity. Cycles and threshold levels also help to understand why societies experience periods of increasing fragility and subsequent decline. Results are based on the correlation of a typology and dendrochronology-based archaeological chronology for western LBK and various palaeoclimatic proxy-data. The 14C-production curve is taken as an indicator for solar activity fluctuations, and an age model for laminated sediments as an indicator for rainfall fluctuations. We currently consider this correlation as agreeably robust; however future finedating may result in slight shifts within the archaeological chronology. According to the applied age model, the simple farming societies of the LBK (5600e4900 cal BC) in west-central Europe were not immediately and devastatingly affected by most climate fluctuations. Yet, they might have been one destabilising component within broader processes. However, periods of decreased or irregularly spaced rainfall are contemporaneous to periods of population decline, while periods of increased rainfall may have favoured population growth. Towards the end of the 6th millennium cal BC, the final years of LBK in western Central Europe are contemporaneous to a general trend to less rainfall punctuated by short-term increases in precipitation. During this climatically highly volatile period LBK reaches its highest population rates and at the same time experiences a period of warfare. Thereafter population rates decline and LBK gradually vanishes from the archaeological record, being replaced by Middle Neolithic societies.

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DOI 10.1016/j.jas.2013.03.015

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Gronenborn, D. , Strien, H. , Dietrich, S. and Sirocko, F. (2013): ‘Adaptive cycles’ and climate fluctuations: a case study from Linear Pottery Culture in western Central Europe , Journal of Archaeological Science . doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.03.015

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