Archaeology: Transition to feudal living in 14th century impacted local ecosystems

November 19, 2020

The transition from tribal to feudal living, which occurred throughout the 14th century in Lagow, Poland had a significant impact on the local ecosystem, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. The findings demonstrate how historical changes to human society and economies may have changed local environments.

Mariusz Lamentowicz and colleagues analysed changes in the composition of plants and pollen in different layers of peat in Pawski Lug, a nature reserve in Western Poland near the village of Lagow. Lagow was founded in the early 13th century and was settled by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller in 1350 CE.

By analysing the composition of different peat layers, the authors were able to draw conclusions about the conditions that were present when each layer was formed. Based on the presence of beech and hornbeam trees, and water lilies in older, deeper layers, the authors concluded that prior to settlement by the Knights Hospitaller, Pawski Lug consisted of waterlogged land surrounded by pristine forest. The authors suggest that small amounts of charcoal present in the peat indicate that the forest was regularly burned on a small scale by the Slavic tribes that inhabited the area at the time.

Under the Knights Hospitaller, the majority of the land was given to agricultural labourers for farming. The authors found that the prevalence of hornbeam in peat from this era decreased as the abundance of cereals increased, indicating deforestation in favour of the establishment of croplands and meadows around the waterlogged land. The authors propose that deforestation may have affected the groundwater levels of Pawski Lug. Increased abundances of Scots pine trees indicate that this species recolonized the area. As a result, the soil became increasingly acidic, supporting the growth of peat moss which both acidified the habitat and aided peat formation.

The findings illustrate the direct and significant impact the economic transformation of Lagow from a tribal to a feudal society had on the local ecosystem.
-end-
Article details

How Joannites' economy eradicated primeval forest and created anthroecosystems in medieval Central Europe

DOI:

10.1038/s41598-020-75692-4

Corresponding Author:

Mariusz Lamentowicz Adam Mickiewicz University, Pozna?, Poland
Email: mariuszl@amu.edu.pl

Please link to the article in online versions of your report (the URL will go live after the embargo ends): https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-75692-4

Scientific Reports

Related Peat Articles from Brightsurf:

Carbon-releasing 'zombie fires' in peatlands could be dampened by new findings
New simulations have provided clues on reducing uncontrolled peat fires, which hide underground and are notoriously bad for human health and the environment.

Study finds seabird ecosystem shift in Falkland islands
The 14,000-year-old record raises a very troubling question about where seabirds in the South Atlantic and Southern Ocean will go as the climate continues to warm.

Where will the seabirds go?
A new study of a 14,000-year record, published in Science Advances, shows that seabird poop transformed an entire ecosystem in the Falkland Islands, raising questions about the birds' survival and the potential impact of climate change on sensitive terrestrial-marine ecosystems

Indonesia's old and deep peatlands offer an archive of environmental changes
Researchers probing peatlands to discover clues about past environments and carbon stocks on land have identified peatland on Borneo that is twice as old and much deeper than previously thought.

Carbon storage from the lab
Researchers at the University of Freiburg established the world's largest collection of moss species for the peat industry and science

Enforcement more effective than financial incentives in reducing harmful peat fires?
A new study looking at incentives to reduce globally harmful peatland fires suggests that fear of enforcement and public health concerns influence behaviour more than the promise of financial rewards.

Bering Sea ice extent is at most reduced state in last 5,500 years 
Through the analysis of vegetation from a Bering Sea island, researchers have determined that the extent of sea ice in the region is lower than it's been for thousands of years.

Oil spill clean- up gets doggone hairy
A study investigating sustainable-origin sorbent materials to clean up oil spill disasters has made a surprising discovery.

Low-severity fires enhance long-term carbon retention of peatlands
High-intensity fires can destroy marshy peatlands and cause them to emit huge amounts of their stored carbon into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases, but a new Duke University study finds low-severity fires spark the opposite outcome.

Lacustrine ecosystems needed 10 million years to recover after end-permian mass extinction
A research team led by Prof. WANG Bo from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) found that both lake and peat-forming forest ecosystems probably took as long as 10 million years to recover after the end-Permian mass extinction.

Read More: Peat News and Peat Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.