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Sinking Coasts: Geosphere, Climate and Anthroposphere of the Holocene Southern Baltic Sea (SINCOS-II) (completed)

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For the ZBSA: Prof. Dr. Claus von Carnap-Bornheim, Dr. Harald Lübke, Dr. Ulrich Schmölcke

Between 2002 and 2009, the combined effect of climatological, geological and ecological factors on cultural developments during the last 8000 years in the SW Baltic area were investigated exemplarily in the interdisciplinary research project SINCOS.

The Baltic is particularly well-suited as a model area for investigations of this kind because, in the course of the last 12,000 years, radical changes in the environment have taken place here which, from around 6000 BC, resulted in the formation of the present-day Baltic Sea. At that time a global rise in sea level led to flooding of a land bridge between Central Europe and Scandinavia which had existed for millennia, and to penetration by the ocean of the forested, lake-rich Baltic basin. This process did not only radically change the fauna, it had as much of a profound effect on the cultural development of the hunter, fisher and gatherer groups as the contemporaneous Neolithisation of the Central European interior.

At ZBSA, investigations are in progress into the way and the extent to which prehistoric human communities, through adjustment and adaptation of their economy, their social structure and their communication networks, reacted to this landscape change. The investigations are focussed on the Bay of Mecklenburg and the coastal waters off the island of Rügen. The locations of these central areas, respectively west and east of the Darβer threshold, enable comparative analyses of the cultural development within two different large regions.

In order to attain the project’s research goals, it was necessary primarily to investigate selected prehistoric settlements. In recent years, within the framework of the SINCOS project, funded by the Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DGF), several new sites have been discovered and analysed. These date from the Late and Final Mesolithic of the 6th and 5th millennium BC. They are characterised, in part, by exceptionally good conditions for preservation and their investigation immediately facilitated a new subdivision of the final Mesolithic cultures into several developmental phases, in parallel with changes in the environment.

During the period of time under investigation, people changed their dietary economy several times: Following the epoch of hunting large forest mammals and fishing in lakes and rivers, there was a period of intensive exploitation of new marine resources, in particular seals and marine fishes, prior to, ultimately, the economic turning point towards agriculture and animal husbandry. However, a culture comprising sea fishermen and seal hunters existed for more than 1000 years in the immediate vicinity of the farmers who settled south of the River Elbe – an indication of productivity of the young Baltic Sea.

The fieldwork element of this project was completed in the spring of 2009. The further evaluation and analysis of some of the cultural remains that were recovered, together with investigation of the archaeozoological material, will be continued at the ZBSA in the coming years. As a consequence, a multifaceted spotlight will be directed both onto the environmental changes and the process of adaptation linked to the nascent Neolithisation, which commenced around 4000 BC. A continuation of the comparative faunal analyses and considerations up into the 1st millennium AD, a time at which the first early urban settlements created completely new parameters for the exploitation of the environmental resources, especially the Baltic Sea, will follow on from the present research project.

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In Cooperation with

Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde (IOW)

Römisch-Germanische Kommission (RGK),
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (Frankfurt/Main)

Landesamt für Kultur und Denkmalpflege,
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Schwerin)

Niedersächsisches Institut für Historische Küstenforschung (Wilhelmshaven)

Institut für Geographie und Geowissenschaften,
Universität Greifswald

Institut für Planetare Geodäsie,
TU Dresden

Abteilung »Paläoklimatologie«,
GKSS Forschungszentrum Geesthacht

Kieler Graduiertenschule »Human Development in Landscapes«

Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Jan Harff (IOW/Universität Stettin; Sprecher) und Prof. Dr. F. Lüth (RGK; Stellv. Sprecher).

Funded by

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

2002 bis 2005

DFG-Forschergruppe "SINCOS" (FOR488) ;
Unterprojekt 1.6 "Prehistoric Settlements and Development of the Regional Economic Area"(LU537/6-1)

2006 bis 2009

DFG-Paketantrag "SINCOS-II" (PAK81);
Teilprojekt 4 "Prehistoric Settlements and Development of the Regional Economic Area"(LU537/11-1)

 

Video des DFG Science TV zum Projekt SINCOS "Sinkende Küsten":
http://dfg-science-tv.de/de/projekte/sinkende-kuesten