2. Materials and Methods

2.1 Study region and sites

All the sites discussed in this article are located in Germany's northernmost federal state, Schleswig-Holstein. Schlamersdorf LA 5, Bebensee LA 76 and Seedorf LA 245 are located in the Trave valley, Kayhude LA 8 in the Alster valley (Figure 2). The shortest distance between the rivers is c. 20km. Both rivers flow through a moraine landscape. The Trave, which only drains upper moraines (from the Weichselian glaciation), flows into the Baltic at Lübeck. The Alster runs between upper and lower moraines (the latter from the Saale glaciation) and meets the Elbe River at Hamburg. The glacial till (Geschiebemergel) in the upper moraines contains c. 20% calcium carbonate, while the glacial sand in the lower moraines (Geschiebesand) only contains 0–5% calcium carbonate (Stewig 1982, and references therein). Both Trave and Alster today have carbonate-rich (hard) water.

Figure 2
Figure 2: Map of the study region. The sites Schlamersdorf LA 5, Bebensee LA 76, Seedorf LA 245 and Kayhude LA 8 are indicated by red crosses. Main watersheds are indicated by yellow lines (after Umweltbundesamt 2004). Map of Schleswig-Holstein by Wikimedia user NordNord-West, relief by Wikimedia user Lencer, globe by Wikimedia user TheEmirr

2.1.1 Trave valley: Schlamersdorf, Bebensee, Seedorf

Schlamersdorf lies in a 2km-long, 700m-wide section of the Trave valley, which narrows to 200m at the north and south. The site discussed here is Schlamersdorf LA 5, situated on a low spit of land that reached into the former lake or river. Despite the large number of flint tools found at Schlamersdorf (Hartz 1996; 1997), there is no evidence that they were made on site (Heinrich 1993), which supports the interpretation that Schlamersdorf was a specialised hunting or fishing station. There were bones from at least eleven individuals of waterfowl, one wild boar, two red deer and one aurochs, and smaller mammals like wildcat, European otter, European beaver and red squirrel (Heinrich 1993). The fish-bone assemblage is dominated by Northern pike (Esox lucius). Other important fish are cyprinids (Cyprinidae) and European perch (Perca fluviatilis). Ten pointed wooden poles were probably part of a stationary fishing device (Hartz 1996). Some natural depressions in the peat were filled with remains of freshwater mollusc shells, which can be interpreted as food refuse. The same phenomenon is known from other sites such as those in the Åmosen, or from Bebensee LA 76 (Hartz 1993).

Lübke (2000) provides a comprehensive description of the sites Bebensee LA 26 and LA 76. Bebensee LA 76, discussed here, lies on an island in a former lake of the Trave valley. It was discovered in 1977 and excavated 1988-1991. The site was occupied repeatedly from the late Mesolithic to the early Neolithic, with finds of EBK and Funnel-Beaker pottery, and occasional later finds. According to pottery decoration, most sherds should belong to a late EN I horizon. Red deer, aurochs, wild boar and roe deer dominate the faunal remains, while most fish-bones belong to pike, catfish and cyprinids. Swan mussels (Anodonta cygnea) were also identified. About 20% of faunal remains are from domestic animals, but all evidence points towards the EBK site being a temporary hunting and fishing station.

Seedorf lies on the western edge of the Heidmoor bog, through which the Trave flows. At a former lake, sites of various Mesolithic and Neolithic cultures were discovered (Bokelmann 1994; 1999). Food crusts from two of these, LA 245 and LA 296, have been dated; the potsherds themselves were not diagnostic, but the sites seem to have been occupied most intensively in the late Mesolithic (Hartz 2011).

2.1.2 Alster valley: Kayhude

Kayhude is situated 15km north of Hamburg, in a narrow flood plain. Fens north and south of the site are likely to be former lakes, while the river itself was about 50m wide in the past and often changed its course (Ingo Clausen, pers. comm. 2007). An area of 80m² was excavated in 2005/2006 by Schleswig-Holstein's state office for archaeology and 1500 finds, among them 70 potsherds, were retrieved from what had been a discard zone in shallow open water. Other finds included antler axes, wooden tools, a stone mace head, pot boilers, and bone and antler remains from wild animals (Clausen 2007). The faunal assemblage included pike, perch and pond turtle (Clausen 2008). An 8m-long row of wooden poles, each up to 70cm long, can be interpreted as a fish weir, dated to around 5000 cal BC. Inundations of the Alster disturbed the stratigraphy, so it is difficult to identify associated artefacts. Only those finds from a seemingly undisturbed stony layer at the bottom (Ingo Clausen, pers. comm. 2007) are discussed here.