Van Walt Environmental Connect Issue Two

Van Walt Corer Recovers Crucial Evidence

means is that although the mega-sites were indeed massive settlements, their occupation was at rather a low level of intensity. Our alternative proposal is that these extraordinary sites were occupied only seasonally, in one of two forms: (a) a large seasonal gathering (think the ‘Burning Man’ Festival in Nevada) or (b) a pilgrimage centre, with smaller numbers of visitors coming to the centre in the snow-free months. Both of these models would fit the low human impact scenario as revealed in the Nebelivka pollen core. So can we support the idea that the Trypillia mega-sites were the first cities in Europe, even if they were seasonal occupations? The answer remains a qualified ‘Yes’, since there are many examples of seasonally occupied cities in the Classical past, such as Persepolis, and the Medieval period, as with the perpetually mobile Ethiopian royal capital. Whatever the final conclusions of our modelling of seasonal mega-site dwelling, these extraordinary sites cannot be simply ignored or treated

as ‘large villages’ – they remain the largest sites in 4th millennium BC Europe and possibly the world. Their future investigation, with archaeological scientific techniques based on equipment such as the Van Walt Stitz corer, is a high priority. The project has moved to the final stage of preparing the final Project monograph for Open Access publication. For this, we are seeking crowd-sourced funding of £10,000 pounds to provide a high-quality Open Access publication from a reputable publisher, such as De Gruyte. Anyone interested in supporting this publication is warmly invited to contact the authors (e-mail: Further Reading: there is a full list of Project publications on the Project website: j.c.chapman/tripillia/

John Chapman & Bruce Albert, Durham University, UK

Using the Cobra TT drill supplied by Van Walt Ltd

The burning of an experimental ‘Neolithic’ house built by the Project in Nebelivka village, 2015: this image shows the house 50 minutes after the start of the fire

before or after. Equally, there were signs of forest recovery and no strong signs of fire events, despite the cultural practice of burning down houses at the end of their use-life. There were continuous, low-level signs of cereal pollen but no indication of intensification of farming. All of these pointers add up to a much lower human impact from what we had thought of as a huge site. After the mega-site: cereal cultivation continued after the abandonment of the mega-site, but more signs of pastoral land-use occurred in the pollen record,

with two fire-events on the scale of the mega-site period. Once again, we have not been able to find contemporary settlements for this period. These scientific results are most extraordinary, for we had all shared the strong expectation of a massive human impact on the local and probably regional environment at the time of the mega-site. The previous idea of a massive mega-site population who cut down extensive tracts of forest to build their houses and then caused massive fire-events when they burned the houses down can no longer be supported. What this 25


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