Monday, 6 October 2008: 3:45 PM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 332BE
Our work on the Early Farming in Dalmatia Project now entering its fourth year is part of an interdisciplinary effort toward understanding the origins of European agriculture. The Danilo Bitinj and Pokrovnik sites are located in Dalmatia, the entryway of agriculture into Europe. The Neolithic record here is biased toward storage sites in upland caves. As open lowlands preserving the landscape context of earliest farming, these sites present a unique opportunity to inform that record. Our focus here is the soil matrix as physical and chemical archive, and possible ceramic source material. Polje soils are chromic and well-structured, but difficult to classify. They vary in depth (0-200 cm) and commonly contain large (5-50 cm) clasts which were clearly deposited, rather than produced through in situ bedrock weathering. Laboratory tests show the soil to be organic carbon-poor and sodic, conditions normally resulting in infertility and plant toxicity. Soil organic matter δ13C analysis reveals a dominance of C3 plants throughout the life of the solum. Thus, current evidence indicates a physically high-energy, generally infertile locale thought to have been stable and agriculturally viable for the last 6000 years. This contradiction raises questions concerning changes in sediment transport processes, local sediment budgets, and natural geochemical constraints. We continue to investigate these parameters in an effort to understand both site formation processes and landscape evolution. Additionally, petrologic and x-ray diffraction analyses indicate ceramic raw materials may have been sourced on-site. We use both appearance in thin section and bulk mineralogy to compare natural and cultural materials, and to construct a ceramic typology for our Early and Middle Neolithic assemblages.