Prehistoric societies, soils and agricultural strategies
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The study deals with: a) the relationship between prehistoric settlement and soil within the territory of today’s Bohemia, b) the relationship between cereals grown in prehistory and selected parameters of the environment, specifically the soil productivity, throughout the territory of the whole Czech Republic. The relations between archaeological periods/cultures and soil types on the level of macro-region can be divided into four groups generally corresponding the development of prehistoric arable agriculture. All prehistoric cultures using arable farming as the main subsistence strategy settled preferentially high-quality soil regions. However, they were able to farm on lower quality soils, too. The strong bond between settlement and the best arable soils ceased to apply during the later phase of the Early Bronze Age but it reappeared at the end of prehistory, especially during the Migration period. The most important environmental variable influencing the composition of cereals preserved within prehistoric macroremains assemblages is the quality of soil. This is manifested by the proportional representation of cultivated wheat and barley: as the soil quality goes down, the ratio of barley increases, while wheat decreases. Though the environmental demands of prehistoric cereals are not known, it turns out, that they thrived under similar conditions as current varieties and, moreover, the strategy of prehistoric arable farming was similar to present-day non-industrial farming communities, e.g. the stable yield was achieved through adequate choice of optimal crops corresponding local conditions.