2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


HOLT, David Harms, Geosciences: Environmental Dynamics, Univ of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Ozark Hall 113, Fayetteville, AR 72701, dhholt@uark.edu

Construction of Germany’s Autobahn system has inadvertently yielded information that has shed light on Late Iron Age Germania. Extensive mining efforts of the gravel beds of the Danube, Rhine, and Main rivers have created man-made lakes that are littered with ancient logs trapped in the anaerobic environment of the river’s gravel layers. The extraction of these logs, considered a nuisance and usually burned by the gravel companies, have been dated using C-14 and dendrochronological methods. These trees, once dated, infer past climates, human presence, and glacial events (some of these trees are being used to attempt to hard date the Older Dryas (~11 -14 KBP)). Annual fluctuations in tree-ring growth can infer climate change given consistency in growth rates and adequate replication. Pollen assemblages from varved sediments have shown that the tribes of Germania were predominantly agrarian due to the high percentage of edible flora in the samples, which would make them sensitive to climate change. The large-scale migrations events have been traditionally believed to have not occurred due to climate change but due to political and social reasons unrelated to climate. However, using dendroclimatology, palynology, history, archaeology, and absolute dating it appears that the tribes in the 3rd and 4th Century CE moved during poor-growth years 81.7% of the time suggesting that climate could have been a significant factor in these migrations and probably contributed to the actions of the Germanic tribes.