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Current research: Čičarija and Čepićko polje (Croatia)

Beautiful Mediterranean landscape with rich cultural heritage invites researchers to study past environment and human impact on the vegetation. However, study sites, suitable for palynological research are very rare due to dry climate. There are only few marshes and lakes on coast, and situation gets even worse when we move inland, on karst, limestone and dolomite bedrock. To date pollen record at two study sites was analysed: Prapoče study site is located in northern, and Polje Čepić in eastern Istria.

Prapoče

Palynological core was taken south of the Prapoče village, on flysch bedrock. In the lower part of the core (200-170 cm), where sediment deposited between ca. 9500 and 6500 years ago, pollen is very badly preserved. Pollen of pine, oak, lime and hazel was found. Pollen preservation in the younger part of the core is much better and suggests that ca. 6500-4000 years ago a rather open, mixed woodland (with lime, oak, beech, fir, hornbeam, hop hornbeam and hazel) was growing in the area. Human impact (agriculture and grazing) was intensive and even increased in the second millennium BC, when open landscape, similar to present-day, formed already in the Late Bronze Age (Andrič in Willis 2003, Andrič 2004, Andrič 2006).

Polje Čepić

Polje Čepić was covered by a freshwater lake until 1932, when it was artificially drained to create agricultural fields. The sedimentological and palynological research of a test core (17 m) from eastern part of polje aimed to investigate the Holocene surroundings of former inhabitants of Polje Čepić and their impact on the vegetation.

Pollen was not preserved in all sections of the core. Due to agro-melioration it was destroyed in the upper few meters of the sediment. In deeper layers, pollen preservation depends on past hydrological conditions

About 7000 years ago Polje Čepić was a wetland, surrounded by predominantly beech forests. Oak, hazel and fir were also growing in the region. Pollen diagram (Balbo et al. 2006) indicates that the amount of beech and other trees was declining, while the first cereal pollen, together with increased microscopic charcoal concentration occurred about 6200 years ago. It can be associated with numerous Neolithic archaeological sites in the vicinity of Polje Čepić. In the Bronze and Iron Age agricultural activities intensified, which coincides with an increase of discovered archaeological sites. Due to intensive forest clearance the landscape became more open, in the last 4000 years sedimentation rate increased. Soil erosion was probably triggered by human activities (forest clearance) and wetter climate (Balbo et al. 2006).

Literature

Andrič, M. in K. J. Willis. 2003. . The phytogeographical regions of Slovenia: a consequence of natural environmental variation or prehistoric human activity? Journal of Ecology 91: 807-821

Andrič, M. 2004. Paleookolje v Sloveniji in severnem delu hrvaške Istre v pozni prazgodovini. The vegetation of Slovenia and northern Istria in late prehistory. Arheološki vestnik 55: 509-525

Andrič, M. 2006. Prapoče pollen core and Holocene vegetation change in northern Istria. Peludna jezgra iz Prapoča i promjene vegetacije za holocena u sjevernoj Istri. Strani 31-62 v P. T. Miracle in S. Forenbaher (ur.). Prehistoric herders of northern Istria. The archaeology of Pupićina cave, Volume 1., Pretpovijesni stočari sjeverne Istre. Arheologija Pupićine peći, 1. svezak. Monografije i katalozi 14, Pula: Arheološki muzej Istre

Balbo A. L., M. Andrič, J. Rubinić, A. Moscariello in Miracle P. T. 2006. Palaeoenvironmental and archaeological implications of a sediment core from Polje Čepić, Istria, Croatia. Geologia Croatica 59(2), 109-124

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