Evidence of Pollen and Plant Macroremains from the Sediments of Suburban Area of Medieval Tartu/Oietolmu Ja Taimsete Makrojaanuste Vordlev Analuus Keskaegse Tartu Eeslinna Alalt

By Kihno, Kersti; Hiie, Sirje | Estonian Journal of Archaeology, June 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Evidence of Pollen and Plant Macroremains from the Sediments of Suburban Area of Medieval Tartu/Oietolmu Ja Taimsete Makrojaanuste Vordlev Analuus Keskaegse Tartu Eeslinna Alalt


Kihno, Kersti, Hiie, Sirje, Estonian Journal of Archaeology


Introduction

In 1990-1994 rescue excavations at the building site of Postimaja (Post Office) at 7 Vanemuise Street were carried out in the suburban area of medieval Tartu (Fig. 1) directed by archaeologist Mare Aun (Aun 1994; 1995a; 1995b). In general, treatments of the primary structure of the settlement have been based on the oldest preserved town plans of the 17th century (Maesalu & Vissak 2002). Although the exact data concerning the formation of southern settlement outside the town wall is not available, it is rather likely that the suburban settlement was already developing by the fourth quarter of the 13th century at the latest (Heinloo 2006).

To engage an archaeobotanist to determine plant macro-remains from the deposits of early town was quite a common practice (Sillasoo 1997; 2005). Besides plant tissues, seeds and fruits, sediments frequently contain plant micro-remains--pollen and spores, providing extra information about the environment, economy and activities of the settlement. Only a few pollen analytical studies of medieval cultural layers were known from Europe at that time (cf. Vuorela & Hiekkanen 1991) as urban archaeology was among the latest fields of palynology. However, several waterlogged habitats from archaeological settings may prove suitable for pollen preservation, such as ditches, moats, wells, lynchets, post holes and sewers (Moore et al. 1991). As pollen and spores survive best in acidic and anoxic conditions, soils receive less attention from palynologists. The soil composition of cultural layers differs from the traditional material (peat, lake sediments and waterlogged sediments) used for pollen analyses. Oxidation and drying of soil lead to pollen corrosion and together with high charcoal dust concentration values it hampers the pollen analyses, so that the identification of taxa is often restricted (Vuorela & Lempiainen 1993; Vuorela et al. 1996). This has been, for example, the case with material from Tartu Dome Hill, where pollen was not found (Kihno 1994).

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Still, not all settlement layers have badly preserved pollen. Archaeobotanical investigations in medieval towns of Finland (Vuorela & Hiekkanen 1991; Vuorela & Lempiainen 1993; Vuorela 1994), as well as attempts made in this field in the suburban areas of medieval Tallinn (Kihno 1995a), encouraged the archaeologist Mare Aun to involve both an archaeobotanist and a palynologist in the project (Hiie 1995; 2002; Kihno 1995b).

Material and methods

Sampling

Samples for pollen and plant macrofossil analyses were collected by Ulle Sillasoo in May 1994. The sampling point was located in the southern part of the rescue excavations close to Vanemuise Street (Fig. 2). On the site of Postimaja both prehistoric and medieval cultural layers were discernible. Unfortunately neither of them was observed all over the investigated area; in the southern part of the excavation plot a medieval layer was established as the earliest upon the natural layers (?un 1995b).

About 1 m sample column was taken from the profile [4/i.sup.1] which can be divided into nine complexes (Fig. 3). At the base of the profile light sand crops out. The analysed cross-section begins with 0.18 m of brown peat followed by a 0.12 m well decomposed black layer of humus which is covered by a 0.38 m thick layer of organic-rich soil containing pieces of wood. On top of it, within 0.5 m, layers of sandy soil, fine brown sand rich in charcoal and coarse grey clayey sand with charcoal lay. The upper 0.35 m consists of rubble and infill.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]

The samples range from the natural layers to the 14th-17th century cultural layers, the dating of which was based on archaeological finds (Aun 1995a). Two pollen and macrofossil sub-samples were analysed from the peat (Table 1), one from the layer of humus and two from the soil.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Evidence of Pollen and Plant Macroremains from the Sediments of Suburban Area of Medieval Tartu/Oietolmu Ja Taimsete Makrojaanuste Vordlev Analuus Keskaegse Tartu Eeslinna Alalt
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?