Man and a river in the Middle Ages: a unique sequence of floods, human habitation and soil formation on the floodplain of the river Morava



Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
Description Floodplain deposits of the river Morava were uncovered during rescue excavations in the Czech town of Uherské Hradiště. They contain a sequence of buried soil horizons showing signs of considerable human influence. This sedimentary sequence is a record of interactions between human activities and natural processes taking place in the Holocene, so it allows us to directly examine the evolution of the environment in relation to settlement dynamics on the floodplain. The sequence was studied by a multi-proxy approach based on a combination of archaeological evidence, soil micromorphology, and physical, geochemical and palaeobotanical analyses supplemented with radiocarbon and OSL dating. Calm periods of soil formation were alternated by periods of flooding and floodplain aggradation. The oldest soil horizon has been dated to the 8 th century AD. The site was probably an important trading centre since this period, as indicated by findings of coins and a set of lead weights. A more developed buried soil horizon formed in the first half of the 9 th century, when the locality belonged to an important settlement agglomeration of the Great Moravian Empire. During the 9 th century, the site was flooded, as is reflected by the presence of a sand layer across the site. The following soil horizon, containing younger Great Moravian ceramics, has been dated to the second half of the 9 th century. This horizon, bearing signs of the so-called European Dark Earth, formed a levelled surface on which the Mediaeval town of Uherské Hradiště was founded after 1211 AD. The town got hit by another flood in the 13 th century. Despite repeated flooding, the settlement in the area was renewed repeatedly. Together with evidence of long-distance trade, this testifies to the importance of the place located on the commercial waterway of the river Morava.

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