Reconstructing Early Neolithic paleogeography: EMI-based subsurface modeling and chronological modeling of Holocene Peat below the Lower Scheldt floodplain in NW Belgium
Verhegge, J.; Saey, T.; Van Meirvenne, M.; Missiaen, T.; Crombé, P. (2017). Reconstructing Early Neolithic paleogeography: EMI-based subsurface modeling and chronological modeling of Holocene Peat below the Lower Scheldt floodplain in NW Belgium. Geoarchaeology 32(2): 159-176. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/gea.21581
Well‐preserved prehistoric landscapes and sites have been found, buried deeply below the Holocene peat or floodplain deposits of “Waasland Scheldt polders.” During the mid‐to‐late Holocene, Late Weichselian (river) dunes within the floodplain and river flanks were favored locations for Final Early Neolithic occupation. Available living space was determined by the dune topography and elevation of the peat at that time. Therefore, an elevation model of the peat base was created using multireceiver electromagnetic induction (EMI) survey data. Electrical conductivity data of a dune were collected and 1D inverted within a three‐layered soil model with variable electrical conductivity of the top layer and variable depth to the base of the middle layer (i.e., the peat). The modeled peat base depth was calibrated and validated, and eventually replaced by depth data from coring and cone penetration measurements wherever depth modeling from inverting the EMI measurements proved inaccurate. Using the resulting peat base elevation model, a paleogeographic map at the time of the modeled end date of Mesolithic–Neolithic transitional Swifterbant Culture sites nearby was created by chronologically modeling the peat elevation at that time. The developed paleogeographic mapping methodology can be used for subsequent archaeological prospection by core sampling or to contextualize excavated sites.
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