Sedimentological and high-resolution pollen and aquatic microfossil analysis of Middle Pleistocene lakeshore deposits of paleolithic site Schöningen 13 II-4, Germany

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentations (poster etc.)Research

Mario Tucci - Speaker

Kim J. Krahn - Coauthor

Brigitte Urban - Speaker

Antje Schwalb - Coauthor

The internationally well-known Lower Paleolithic site of Schöningen is located within an open-cast lignite mine in Lower Saxony, Germany. This site is outstanding due to the finding of the world´s oldest wooden hunting spears as well as large quantities of excellent preserved flint artifacts and faunal remains. The embedding sediments originate from a remarkably complete Middle Pleistocene sequence, locally named the Reinsdorf Interglacial, which is correlated with MIS 9. In order to characterize the paleo-lakeshore environment and its final transitional sedimentation cycle of lake marl (level 13 II-4c) into organic mud (level 13 II-4b) containing the spear find horizon, geochemical and high resolution palynological and aquatic microfossil analyses were undertaken on small sediment sections distributed along the shoreline of archeological site Schöningen 13 II-4. Palynological analyses focused on both taxa percentages and pollen concentrations, the latter providing additional information on conditions of sediment accumulation. Carbonate content of the horizon underlying the archeologically significant horizon is generally very high while carbon and nitrogen increase with higher biomass production and stronger silting tendencies in the upper horizon. Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and particularly birch (Betula sp.) are the dominant tree species. Based on pollen concentration, pine pollen is considered to have been transported over longer distances. At higher topographical locations and in greater distance from the lakeshore pollen concentration of aquatic taxa declines and heliophytes such as Centaurea sp. and Helianthemum sp. increase, indicating dryer and more open vegetation conditions. Pollen records of Picea, that most of the spears are made from, are extremely rare in both analyzed horizons which clearly indicates that the raw material was not locally derived and the spears were not manufactured close to the place of deposition. Ostracod and diatom analyses indicate shallow water at the study site with higher salinities and rich aquatic vegetation. Mesorheophilic ostracod species along with tychoplanktonic diatom taxa point to small streams at the lakeshore, presumably originating from springs on nearby highlands. A progressive terrestrialization from horizon 13 II-4c to 13 II-4b is supported by considerably decreasing microfossil concentrations and increasing proportions of benthic taxa. According to their position in relation to the paleo-lakeshore, the samples show a diverse vegetation pattern including small patches of local birch forest and species favoring wet and nitrogen rich loamy soils as well as submerged areas indicated by the occurrence of aquatic taxa. Other samples of this transitional phase point to very dry, also partly saline, terrestrial locations indicated by plants of dry grass, meadow or steppe vegetation.
25.07.2019 → …


20th Congress of the International Union for Quaternary Research - INQUA 2019


Dublin, Ireland

Event: Conference