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Title: Human management and landscape changes at Palaikastro (Eastern Crete) from the Late Neolithic to the Early Minoan period
Author: Cañellas Boltà, Núria
Riera i Mora, Santiago
Orengo, Héctor A.
Livarda, Alexandra
Knappett, C.
Keywords: Palinologia
Arqueologia del paisatge
Economia prehistòrica
Landscape archaeology
Prehistoric economics
Issue Date: 15-Feb-2018
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Abstract: The intense cultivation of olives, together with the diversification and specification of crops has been hypothesized as a cornerstone in the socio-economic transformations occurred during the Early bronze age in Crete, that led to the development of the Minoan society. However the nature and paucity of archaeobotanical and paleoenvironmental data to date are inconclusive, and an intense debate about the role of olive and agricultural practices in the emergence of this society is still ongoing. With the aim of studying vegetation changes and human management and contribute in the understanding of the landscape history, a paleoenvironmental study has been carried out at Palaikastro (Eastern Crete), focused in the late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods. Pollen, NPP and charcoal particles analyses show seven landscape phases as a result of the combination of the different intensity of agricultural and pastoral practises, with the use of fire probably to manage vegetation. The first evidence of agricultural activity occurred at 3900 cal yr BC, coinciding with increasing fire frequency. Olive trees, present in the area since 4300 cal yr BC possibly as an important component of the maquis communities, underwent an expansion since 3600 cal yr BC (Final Neolithic) that involved a major landscape transformation, characterized by an opening of the landscape. The increase of olive pollen was probably related to the expansion of the tree and its management by people, such as pruning and mechanical cleaning. From 3600 to 2780 cal yr BC the Palaikastro landscape became progressively dominated by olive trees. Between c. 2780 and 2525 cal yr BC there was a largely open landscape, mainly occupied by olive-trees and grasslands, coinciding with an increase in grazing practices. The high olive pollen percentages (40-45%) suggest an intensive and large-scale exploitation. A transitional period of lower human pressure and plant recovery was recorded between c. 3200-3000 cal yr BC. The results suggest that a complex and organized landscape with complementary land uses and activities was already in place during the Final Neolithic. The notable expansion and abundance of olive trees suggest the relevance of olive exploitation in the area and probably in the socio-economic development of Minoan towns of eastern Crete. Other crops, such as cereals and vine, and activities such as grazing have also played an important role in the changing configuration of the landscape. The onset of olive expansion and management at c. 3600 cal yr BC place Crete among the first places in the eastern Mediterranean in the management of this tree.
Note: Versió postprint del document publicat a:
It is part of: Quaternary Science Reviews, 2018, vol. 183, p. 59-75
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ISSN: 0277-3791
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Institut de Recerca de l'Aigua (IdRA))
Articles publicats en revistes (Història i Arqueologia)

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