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Department of Archaeology

Monday, 30 November, 2020 - 13:00 to 14:00
Event speaker: 
Dr Floor Huisman

The well-preserved Late Bronze Age pile dwelling settlement of Must Farm, located in the former East Anglian Fens, could be a one-off singularity, situated in a marginal, wet landscape. Alternatively, it represents one of many similar settlements situated in the ‘deep fens’, which may have been less marginal than we think, despite being unsuitable for arable agriculture. To better understand wetland settlements and the people inhabiting these landscapes, and to assess the role of dynamic wetland landscapes like the Fens in later prehistory, we need to consider wetland sites like Must Farm within their wider spatial and temporal context, which should include not just nearby Fenland and fen edge areas, but also dryland areas further inland.
In this talk, Dr Floor Huisman will discuss the results of her PhD research, in which she studied the role and place of later prehistoric (c. 4000 BC-100 AD) wetland sites and communities in the former East Anglian Fens (UK) within the wider socio-cultural and physical landscape through an examination of past human-environment interaction through time. To achieve this, the presence and absence of a range of domestic and wild plant and animal species from 145 sites in three different environments (wetlands, drylands and the fen edge) were recorded in a relational database and systematically compared to understand how people interacted with this ever-expanding wetland over time (Neolithic to Iron Age). Five stages of human-wetland interaction were identified, demonstrating that the ever-expanding wet Fenlands were of greater interest in some periods than others, but not marginal.
Over time, different types of wetland exploitation developed in response to both environmental change and various social factors, highlighting the complex interaction between people and environment in and around this former wetland, which was an integrated part of the wider landscape.

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