Geoarcheological Workshop – Actual stage of the environmental archeology investigations in southern Poland and northern Czech Republic

Poznań, Poland, 25 October 2011


Figure 1: Excavation trench from the Late Pleistocene archeological site Sowin in the Silesian region of Southwestern Poland. The profile shows three main stratigraphic units (recent soil, eolian sands, and sand-clayish sediments) and anthropogenic charcoal deposition. Photo by A. Wisniewski.

Geoarcheology brings together many disciplines such as geology, geomorphology, archeology, paleobotany or zoology. The traditional geoarcheological approach is based mainly on geological and soil science methods, but during the last 20 years detailed microstratigraphic studies and analyses of microfacies have become more and more important (Courty 2001). These approaches were recognized as essential to recover and understand the full cultural and environmental potential of archeological deposits (Goldberg and Macphail 2006).

The main aim of this workshop was to initiate scientific discussion on the new challenges for geoarcheology in Central Europe. Scientifically, the focus was on ongoing environmental archeology research in southern Poland and the northern Czech Republic, and their implications for paleoclimate research. The presentations mainly concentrated on the Late Pleistocene and Middle to Late Paleolithic (130-12 ka BP), for which archeological evidences are more frequent than for earlier periods.

The organizers had invited a range of specialists from the Czech Republic and Poland to discuss “key” questions of the Late Pleistocene stratigraphy and Paleolithic evidences from southern Poland. Topics addressed ranged from subsistence strategies of Late Paleolithic hunter groups to the MIS3-MIS1 stratigraphical records in the region (Połtowicz-Bobak 2009; Wiśniewski et al. in press; Bobak and Poltowicz-Bobak, in press). In addition, applications of relatively new methodological approaches for the field were presented, such as microstratigraphy, isotopic studies or GIS analyses (see Skrzypek et al. 2011). In total, nine presentations raised questions about chronological accuracy in the context of terrestrial and marine data as well as chronostratigraphy from the view-point of archeology (e.g. Fig 1; Wiśniewski, University of Wrocław; Bobak, University of Rzeszów) and sedimentology (Lisa, Institute of Geology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; Kalicky, University of Kielce), subsistence strategies in the context of environmental changes (Łanczont, University of Lublin; Madeyska, Polish Academy of Science; Warszawa, Połtowicz-Bobak, University of Rzeszów; e.g. Boguckyj et al. 2009, Sytnyk et al. 2012) and on the paleozoological records of environmental change (Nadachowski, Polish Academy of Sciences; Kraków, University of Wrocław; Nadachowski 2011). Finally, Iwona Hildebrant-Radke (Mickiewicz University Poznań) presented new methodological aspects for the use of GIS in geoarcheological investigations (Jasiewicz and Hildebrand-Radke 2009). The presentations were followed by plenary discussions.

The major outcomes from the meeting in Poznań are plans for a new cooperation, especially within the scope of the study of the Late Paleolithic in the historical region of Silesia. One example is the transfer of methodological knowledge between institutes from the Czech Republic and Poland. The participants agreed to build a network for sharing such information. Until now, the exchange of knowledge between the Polish and Czech groups was rather scant and it was decided that an important step to improve it would be to designate a contact person in each country who will share the information about forthcoming meetings. The contact persons for the Polish part are Katarzyna Issmer and Andrzej Wiśniewski. The contact person on the Czech side is Lenka Lisa. Another approach to facilitate communication in the scientific community is the creation of two virtual groups on the social network Facebook with the title “Quaternary Group” (!/groups/253485648040066/) and “Zooarchaeology and Paleonthology” (!/groups/paleontologie/). Also, a scientific platform for Central Europe was set up (

This workshop was supported by the Polish Association for Environmental Archeology and the A. Mickiewicz University in Poznań, and was endorsed by PAGES.

Category: Workshop Reports | PAGES Magazine articles

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