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Wetland landscape dynamics, Swifterbant land use systems, and the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the southern North Sea basin
Crombé, P.; Verhegge, J.; Deforce, K.; Meylemans, E.; Robinson, E. (2015). Wetland landscape dynamics, Swifterbant land use systems, and the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the southern North Sea basin. Quaternary International 378: 119-133.
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Neolithization; Swifterbant culture; Alluvial geoarchaeology; Bayesianchronological modelling; Northwest Europe; Belgium

Auteurs  Top 
  • Meylemans, E., meer
  • Robinson, E., meer

    Over the last decade, excavations in the lower Scheldt river basin (NW Belgium) have identified the first presence of the transitional Mesolithic-Neolithic Swifterbant culture, previously only known from the Netherlands and one site in northwest Germany. These excavations have also yielded the first evidence for the presence of Early Neolithic Linearbandkeramik, Limbourg, Blicquy and Epi-Rossen cultural remains in these wetland landscapes. High quality organic preservation at these sites offered the opportunity to reliably place the Swifterbant within the absolute chronology of the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in this region, as well as the reconstruction of Swifterbant subsistence practices, most notably the incorporation of cattle husbandry into a traditional hunting-fishing-gathering economy. Two different site types could be identified between the six excavated sites - dune and natural levee sites - which had contemporaneous periods of occupation, but different occupation histories. The integration of the dates from these different site types with the palaeoenvironmental dates provides an initial model of the Swifterbant settlement system in the area and its role in the specific tempo and trajectories of cultural and economic change that occurred during the neolithisation of the Scheldt basin. This model consists of relatively specialized and temporarily inhabited cattle and hunting-fishing camps on the dunes and larger, more continuously occupied levee camps along the river valleys. Bayesian statistical modeling suggests that Swifterbant occupation of the dune sites occurred during a brackish water flooding period and that occupation of the levee sites was more continuous.

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