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Early Farming in the Northern Boreal Zone: Reassessing the History of Land Use in Southeastern Finland through High-Resolution Pollen Analysis


  • Scientific editing by Jamie Woodward

Corresponding author;



The early stages of agriculture in the Boreal forests of Northern Europe remain poorly understood. Although pottery appeared during the 6th millennium B.C., this has not been seen as an indication of a true Neolithic in the north. In later prehistory, vast parts of the region are thought to have remained a wilderness. In order to test these assumptions, a high-resolution pollen analysis and an archaeological survey were carried out at Lake Huhdasjärvi, SE Finland. The results indicate signs of cultivation already by the early Neolithic, 5260–4260 B.C., and slash-and-burn cultivation concentrated on deciduous forests is recorded from ca. A.D. 600 onwards. By A.D. 930, an intensive form of swidden cultivation began in the coniferous forests, indicating a well-established agricultural settlement. The discovery of Neolithic (late 6th millennium B.C.) buckwheat pollen suggests that the roots of agriculture in northernmost Europe may have to be searched for in China rather than the Near East.