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Records of land use and medieval settlement history in Vuonninen, Dvina Karelia, Northwest Russia



Although the documented history of Dvina Karelia (northern Russian Karelia) does not begin until the second half of the 16th century, individual finds of prehistoric artifacts point to earlier human occupation. The present paleoecological study of the Vuonninen area is the first of its kind concerning prehistoric land use in Dvina Karelia, a large region extending from Finland to the White Sea. It is based on the pollen analysis of sediments from Lake Ylä-Kuittijärvi near the old Karelian village of Vuonninen. In its general features, the picture of the early stages of cultivation and human activity in the village of Vuonninen is comparable to results from East Finland, the Karelian Isthmus, and the northern shores of Lake Ladoga. The first, minor indications of human influence appear in the sediments of the 4th–6th centuries A.D. in Lake Kuittijärvi. Distinct and unambiguous signs of human activity appear in the pollen record in the 12th century. This is particularly evident in the decreasing proportion of Picea, caused by the clearance of spruce forest. The beginning of cultivation is dated according to Secale pollen to the beginning of the 15th century. Intensive arable farming emerges in the early 19th century in the form of regular occurrences of Secale and Hordeum pollen. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.