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    Roman impact on the landscape near castellum Fectio, The Netherlands

    van den Bos, V. and Brinkkemper, O. and Bull, I.D. and Engels, Stefan and Hakbijl, T. and Schepers, M. and van Dinter, M. and van Reenen, G. and van Geel, B. (2014) Roman impact on the landscape near castellum Fectio, The Netherlands. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 23 , pp. 277-298. ISSN 0939-6314.

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    Castellum Fectio was one of the largest fortifications along the Limes, the northern border of the Roman Empire. The castellum, situated 5 km southeast of Utrecht, the Netherlands, was occupied from around the start of our Era to ca. A.D. 260. It was situated along a river bend of the Rhine that was cut off from the main stream during the occupation of the Roman fort. A 6 m long sediment sequence was recovered from the infill of the residual channel and pieces of Roman wall plaster, glume bases of Triticum spelta and radiocarbon dates indicate that the sediments were deposited during the period of Roman occupation. The combined palaeoecological analyses— palynological, macrobotanical, entomological and geochemical— allow a detailed reconstruction of changing environmental conditions as a consequence of the Roman occupation. The pollen record reveals a dramatic decrease in arboreal pollen, suggesting that the Romans were involved in large-scale deforestation, transforming semiopen parkland to a landscape of meadows and agricultural fields. Non-pollen palynomorphs, botanical macrofossils and insect remains support this conclusion. The recorded mycoflora shows a shift from assemblages characterised by the tree pathogen Kretzschmaria deusta to assemblages dominated by spores of fungi associated with herbaceous plants, concurrent with the decrease in arboreal pollen. The presence of masticated bran fragments of cereals, clover remains, eggs of intestinal parasites and entomological and geochemical data in the upper part of the sequence indicates that these sediments largely consist of faeces that were dumped into the former channel. Surprisingly, seeds of salt tolerant species are encountered in the sediments of this inland site, which was situated outside the influence of the sea. Horses may have brought these seeds to Fectio in their intestinal tracts after grazing in coastal meadows.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Stefan Engels
    Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2021 14:21
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:05


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