Charcoal Dispersal from Alpine Stallo Hearths in Sub-Arctic Sweden: Patterns Observed from Soil Analysis and Experimental Burning

Greger Hornberg, Lars Liedgren


To evaluate dispersal patterns and concentrations of macroscopic charcoal particles around Stollo settlements in sub-arctic Scandinavia, their distributions following experimental burning and soil concentrations around an alpine Stollo settlement dating between AD 700 and 1150 were recorded. After the burning 98% of recorded particles were 0.1-0.5 mm long, 90% were dispersed within 40 m of the fire, their mean concentration 40 m from the fire was 0.14±0.08 particles/cm2 and the concentration decreased with increasing distance. At the settlement, 95% of recorded charcoal particles were 0.1-0.5 mm long, 94% were within 40 m of the hearths, the mean concentration declined with increasing distance, and concentrations were much lower than expected from the experimental burning (e.g. 17.6±2.4 particles/cm2, 40 m away). In conclusion: biological archives used for charcoal analysis in archaeological and vegetation history studies should be located ?40 m from settlements, and data obtained from charcoal analyses should be interpreted cautiously.

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Asian Culture and History   ISSN 1916-9655(Print)   ISSN 1916-9663 (Online)

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