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The Laacher See-eruption (12,920 BP) and material culture change at the end of the Allerød in Northern Europe

Riede, F.; (2008) The Laacher See-eruption (12,920 BP) and material culture change at the end of the Allerød in Northern Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science , 35 (3) pp. 591-599. 10.1016/j.jas.2007.05.007.

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Abstract

A number of recent papers have argued that summed probability distributions of radiocarbon dates calibrated with the CALPAL software package can be used to identify population trends in prehistory. For instance, Gamble et al. (Gamble, C., Davies, W., Pettitt, P., Richards, M., 2004. Climate change and evolving human diversity in Europe during the last glacial. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 359, 243–254; Gamble, C., Davies, W., Pettitt, P., Richards, M., 2005. The archaeological and genetic foundations of the European population during the Late Glacial: implications for 'agricultural thinking'. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 15, 193–223.) have demonstrated that during the European Late Glacial, demography was more variable than hitherto acknowledged. Building on this work, this paper presents evidence that the large, but so far largely ignored eruption of the Laacher See-volcano, located in present-day western Germany and dated to 12,920 BP, had a dramatic impact on forager demography all along the northern periphery of Late Glacial settlement and precipitated archaeologically visible cultural change. In Southern Scandinavia, these changes took the form of technological simplification, the loss of bow-and-arrow technology, and coincident with these changes, the emergence of the regionally distinct Bromme culture. Groups in north-eastern Europe appear to have responded to the eruption in similar ways, but on the British Isles and in the Thuringian Basin populations contracted or relocated, leaving these areas largely depopulated already before the onset of the Younger Dryas/GS-1 cooling. Demographic models are used to link these changes to the Laacher See-eruption and this research demonstrates that we cannot sideline catastrophic environmental change in our reconstructions of prehistoric culture history.

Type: Article
Title: The Laacher See-eruption (12,920 BP) and material culture change at the end of the Allerød in Northern Europe
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2007.05.007
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2007.05.007
Language: English
Keywords: Late Glacial, Laacher See-eruption, radiocarbon dates, population history, Bromme culture
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/11397
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