This dissertation delves into the reconstruction of past vegetation at the most detailed level. It is not the objective to focus solely on the developments in vegetation over time, but to create an image of the landscape that must have been visible to prehistoric people. Landscape and vegetation form a major starting point for the opportunities available in a certain area for a broad scale of human activities including grazing of livestock, cultivating crops and collecting wild plants. The majority of the analyses are based on seeds and fruits (botanical macroremains) from two Dutch prehistoric regions. These are the small river system in the present Flevopolder, home to settlements of the so-called Swifterbant Culture in the Neolithic period (4300 ‒ 4000 BC), and the Frisian-Groningen terp region in the period prior to the endikements (700 BC ‒ c. 1200 AD).
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Chapter 1. General introduction 9
Chapter 2. An objective method based on assemblages of subfossil plant macro-remains to reconstruct past natural vegetation: a case study at Swifterbant, the Netherlands 29
Box 1. A pure sample 61
Chapter 3. Wet, wealthy worlds: The environment of the Swifterbant river system during the Neolithic occupation (4300-4000 cal. B.C.) 73
Box 2. Why sample ditches? 109
Chapter 4. Dung Matters: An experimental study into the effectiveness of using dung from hay fed livestock to reconstruct local vegetation 123
Chapter 5. A review of prehistoric and early historic mainland salt marsh vegetation in the Northern Netherlands based on the analysis of plant macrofossils 159
Chapter 6. General discussion 195
List of publications 259
Affiliation of co-authors 261