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Discovering Barbarian Europe

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UKIM

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Lile D.
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  1. Introduction.
    1. Stonehenge - the famous circle of large upright stones in southern England.
    2. Arrival of the Romans in Britain.
  2. Humans and environments.
  3. Life after the ice age.
  4. Early holocene warming.
  5. The holocene optimum.
  6. Population and environment in 5000 B.C.
  7. Barbarian lands through to medieval times.
  8. Human impact on the enviranment over eleven millennia.
    1. The spread of agriculture into northern and Western Europe.
    2. The presence of shrubs such as hazel.
    3. The practice of feeding leafy branches to domestic stock.
    4. The moldboard plow.
  9. Conclusion.

Almost everyone has seen a picture of Stonehenge, the famous circle of large upright stones in southern England. Yet very few people know that it was built in several stages over a period of more than a thousand years, starting nearly five thousand years ago. Most are unaware that it is surrounded by dozens of burial mounds and other earthworks that created a vast Bronze Age ritual landscape. Moreover, despite its fame, Stonehenge is only one of many arrangements of upright stones in the British Isles. Archaeologists puzzle over the Bronze Age societies that built these monuments; however, they know that they were not Druids, to whom popular literature often attributes Stonehenge. The burial mounds have yielded traces of gold, copper, bronze, and amber artifacts?the relics of an elite social class that was able to acquire exotic materials from a distance. Very little is known of where they lived, although it appears that their settlements were simple farmsteads similar to others in the surrounding countryside.

[...] BARBARIAN LANDS THROUGH TO MEDIEVAL TIMES The next major environmental changes of wide significance to human societies in Europe were a significant deterioration in climate after 700 B.C., with a better phase during A.D. 1?600 and then a period of warmth between c. A.D and 1250 known as the Little Optimum or the Medieval Warm Epoch (MWE). The very existence of this latter fluctuation is to some extent uncertain, but it seems best attested to in northern and Western Europe. [...]


[...] HUMAN IMPACTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT OVER ELEVEN MILLENNIA Accepting that agriculture spread into northern and Western Europe during the period 6000?4000 B.C., then some westernmost parts housed 4,000 years of Holocene hunter-gatherers. More central and southerly regions had hunter- gatherer populations from the Late Pleistocene right through to the time when farming became an irreversible way of life. The notion that food- collecting economies do not manage their environments in the manner of agriculturalists has long been abandoned, especially with the realization that fire is a potent management tool at the landscape scale. [...]


[...] In the case of Europe the transition from the tail end of the ice ages to a much more temperate climate was quite rapid. About 9500 B.C. amelioration started to produce warm surface waters around the coasts of Western Europe, and warming rates may have reached about ( 1.8 per century in these waters. On land, rates of 3 to ( 5.4 to 7.2 per 500 years have been postulated for France and even 1.7 to 2.8 ( 3.06 to 5.04 per century in not yet insular Britain. [...]

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