Neolithic human impact on the landscapes of North-East Hungary inferred from pollen and settlement records

E. K. Magyari, John Chapman, Andrew S. Fairbairn, Mark Francis, Margarita de Guzman

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29 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we discuss the Neolithic and Early Copper Age (ECA) part of two pollen records from the Middle Tisza Floodplain in association with the local archaeological settlement record. We address the hypothesis of Willis and Bennett (2004) that there was little human impact by farmers on the environment of SE Europe until the Bronze Age. Contrary to this hypothesis, our results show that small-scale agriculture and woodland clearance is already attestable in the earliest Neolithic in Eastern Hungary, there are signs of expanding scale of mixed farming in the Middle Neolithic and strong evidence for extensive landscape alterations with enhanced pasturing and mixed farming in the Late Neolithic (LN) and ECA. The main vegetation exploitation techniques in the alluvial plain of Sarló-hát were selective tree felling (mainly Quercus), coppicing (mainly Corylus and Ulmus) and woodland clearance to establish grazing pastures and small-scale crop farming. Comparison with other well-dated pollen diagrams from Eastern Hungary suggested that, in the Early and Middle Neolithic (8000-7000 cal. b. p.), Corylus and Ulmus coppicing were probably frequent, while pastoral activities and associated woodland clearance is distinguished in the LN (7000-6500 cal. b. p.). Our data also suggested a shift to moister summer conditions in the alluvium during the ECA, which may have contributed to a trend towards settlement dispersion and increased reliance on animal husbandry in the NE Hungarian Plain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-302
Number of pages24
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2012


  • Archaeology
  • Copper Age
  • Great Hungarian Plain
  • Human impact
  • Neolithic
  • Pollen analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Plant Science
  • Palaeontology

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