Plant economy and village life in Neolithic lake dwellings at the time of the Alpine Iceman

Jacomet, Stefanie

In: Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 2009, vol. 18, no. 1, p. 47-59

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    This paper gives an overview of domesticated and wild plants used during the second half of the fourth millennium cal b.c. in a region within a semicircle of ca. 100km radius around the find site of the Iceman. The landscape considered lies north of the main Alpine chain and includes central to eastern Switzerland and southwest Germany, mainly sites at the lakes Zug, Zürich, Constance (Bodensee), the Federsee region of Upper Swabia (Oberschwaben) and western Bavaria. From this part of central Europe, the plant remains of many well-preserved lake dwelling sites have been investigated during the last decades and much is known about daily life in these villages. Probably contemporary with the Iceman's lifetime is one of the best-investigated settlements, Arbon Bleiche 3 on the southern shore of Lake Constance. A comparison of the Iceman's artefacts and plant macro remains with the finds from the lake dwellings which have been studied shows striking similarities, but also differences. The Iceman's southern provenance can be corroborated by the domestic plants found with him. He used domestic as well as wild plants, very similar to those of his contemporaries in the lakeside villages. The detailed knowledge of the manifold activities in the lakeshore village of Arbon Bleiche 3 allows us to show a rather realistic picture of daily life at the time of the Iceman