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Publication project concerning the Upper Palaeolithic of Ahrenshöft

Dr. Mara-Julia Weber, Dipl.-Geogr. Karin Göbel

Hamburgian sites in a NW European context

Late Glacial resettlement of the North European Plain is bound up with the Hamburgian, to the internal chronology and technological characterisation of which the investigation and publication in monograph form of the sites Ahrenshöft LA 73 and La 58 D contribute. In 2008, a research grant from the Hugo Obermaier Society made possible a new excavation at the site LA 58 D, accompanied by scientific investigations involving international collaborators (cf. Weber et al. 2010). In addition to the analysis of the excavated artefacts, the palynological, micromorphological and microtephrological analyses were continued in 2009. In connection with these investigations, further short-term fieldwork was carried out in co-operation with Ingo Clausen, Archaeological State Agency Schleswig-Holstein.

Excavation Ahrenshöft

Analysis of the pollen samples taken in 2009 by Dr Hartmut Usinger, together with the micromorphological results obtained by Prof Christopher E. Miller, Institute for Archaeological Sciences, University of Tübingen revealed that the ambiguous results obtained from the pollen and microtephra samples collected in 2008 can be explained by post-depositional processes. Moreover, the pollen data from the 2009 samples seem to confirm the dating of the site to the Early Allerød period, as suggested by the results of pollen analyses obtained in 1995. This chronological attribution is, however, not in accordance with the single radiocarbon date for human occupation at this site. In collaboration with Dr Rupert A. Housley, formerly RESET consortium and Dr Felix Riede, Institut for Kultur og Samfund at the University of Aarhus, tephra stratigraphy as another method for the chronological determination of the site was used. The chemical characterisation of the microtephra observed in three of the 2008 and 2009 samples identifies it as a product of an Icelandic volcanic eruption. The stratigraphical resolution of the site is, however, not fine enough to enable these volcanic ashes to be assigned unequivocally to a particular volcanic event.

Apart from the dating of the site, which is very late for a member of the Havelte Group, the archaeological homogeneity was also considered worthy of revision, as elements of the lithic artefact assemblage recovered in 1995 stand out as possibly originating from the subsequent Federmesser-Gruppen, thus providing a motive for the enlargement of the excavated surface. At least the area of the site uncovered in 2008 revealed no further indications of mixing or overlapping between two separate sites.

With the aim of gaining further evidence as to the genesis and taphonomy of the site amongst others, Cand.mag. Ditte Skov Jensen, formerly Aarhus Universitet, digitised the excavation plans at the GIS department of the ZBSA, joined them with the find database in a GIS and carried out different types of spatial analyses as part of her university degree (speciale) thesis in 2011. She found out that the spatial distribution of the artefacts, as observed during the excavation, was not random and could not be the result of solely natural processes. In 2014, the documents from site LA 73 were digitised as well at the GIS department of the ZBSA. Thus, spatial analyses in view of periglacial processes subsequent to the use of the site but also in view of activity areas can be undertaken.

What type of activities took place in Ahrenshöft will be demonstrated by the results of the micro-wear analysis that Ass. Prof. Katsuhiro Sano, Tokyo University Museum, carries out on the projectile points and selected tools from locale LA 58 D.

In order to understand the evidence of the Havelte Group at Ahrenshöft in the context of the terminal Upper Palaeolithic at the margin of the human oecumene, it is compared to the data from the contemporaneous Danish site Krogsbølle, which is studied by a working group led by Felix Riede and with the participation of Mara-Julia Weber.

In Cooperation with

Ingo Clausen M.A., Archäologisches Landesamt Schleswig-Holstein, Außenstelle Neumünster

Dr Rupert A. Housley, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, GB

Jun.-Prof. Christopher E. Miller, Zentrum für Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie, Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Universität Tübingen

Dr Felix Riede, Afdeling for Forhistorisk Arkaeologi, Institut for Kultur og Samfund, Aarhus Universitet, DK

Cand.mag. Ditte Skov Jensen, Museum Midtjylland, DK

Ass. Prof. Katsuhiro Sano, Tokyo University Museum, JP

Prof Carl Heron, Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences, University of Bradford, GB

Funded by

Hugo Obermaier research grant 2008