This paper present results from sediment analysis and subfossil insect analyses in investigated settlements from Pre Roman Iron Age and Roman Iron Age (500 BC-400 AD), primarily well constructions, in southeast Sweden. In opposite to the situation today, several of the investigated settlements were situated by or close to the sea (Baltic Sea) at the time of activity. The landscape has changed very much caused by natural processes and human impact up to present time in the area, e.g. Sweden experience heavy land elevation from the end of the last glaciation (Weichsel, stadial III).
The changing situation in the landscape has also affected the environment around the settlements and also human activity and this is partly reflected in the composition of the macrofossil remains in the wells. The water situation in the wells and the palaeohydrological situation in the landscape is an important issue of the investigation. There is also a possibility, that some of the wells may have been affected by the close situation to the sea, like the quality of the well water. This is also an interpretation presented in former investigations in some areas.
Several of the investigated wells revealed very little or no organic remain, even though the sampled sediment in the wells provided very good preservation conditions. This is interpreted as an effect of the usage time of the wells in the activity period since some of the wells must have been used for a very short time. The short usage times of the wells is probably connected to bad construction of the well, low or decreasing water table in the well and/or bad water quality.
In the study a simple categorisation is used based on the results from the insect analysis, sediment analysis and the construction of the well to create a suistainable model of the interaction between humans, environment and usage of water. The first category is if the wells primarily were used as water resource for people (and domestic animals) at the settlement. In this case the wells are more traditional in their construction with a more ore less characteristic funnel shaped form. The other type of wells are those that in a first stage have been used as water resource for people/animals, but reused in a later stage as water resource for grazing animals. Sometimes the primarily purpose from the beginning was to construct a water pit for the cattle. There is also a discussion about other purposes for the investigated wells, as they may be part of a drainage system within the settlement.
When studying wells in the settlement in the prehistoric and medieval landscape, it is easy to reflect over the palaeohydrological situation and the relation between people and water. It is not always a straightforward understanding on the usage of the well and how the water rtesource situation have been solved and it may be a quite diffuse relation between the well in the settlement and other natural water resources in the landscape. The settlements in the investigation presented here are all situated close to natural freshwater resources, so the well must have functioned as an important complementary resource. Sometimes there is also a clear relationship between the settlement and rivers close to the settlement. From this point of view the relation between the natural water resources in the landscape and the well in the settlement is not simple to understand, but the role of water for survival of people and animals is unquestionable, therefore the palaeohydrology is one of the most important parts of the landscape to understand in a geoarchaeological perspective.
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