Learn about medieval history thanks to records, documents and everyday objects? insignificance. This time, scientists analyzed the history of the medieval road … the path of Marchiones, which led through Pori Tucholsky, recorded in the sediments at the bottom of the lake.

What emerged from this research? In short: when the population of the area decreased – as a result of wars, epidemics and attacks, for example – the wild nature quickly returned (within a few decades) to the places where there were previously cultivated fields. This has happened many times in history.

It was concluded that the human tragedies – which enabled the return of the forest – were linked to the existence of a medieval walking and trade route in the area – the Via Marchiones. It was part of a very important medieval road linking Brandenburg with Malbork, Gdansk and Krulevik.

On the one hand, roads have always had a tangible economic or cultural impact on society, but on the other hand, medieval roads brought unrest and epidemics to the population, and this, in turn, created conditions for the return of wild nature to previously occupied territories. by people. So you can say – in the words of “Jurassic Park” that life will always find its way.

stacking date

As part of the research (funded by the National Science Center), scientists analyzed the core (lake sediment plume) collected from the bottom of Lake Czekoski (Puri Tucholsky, near Ewieczna). And in this very place, the lake sediment layers (annual envelope layer) are perfectly preserved, thanks to which the core is a very accurate archive of how the landscape changed hundreds or even thousands of years ago. In the sediment layers there is not only pollen from contemporary plants, but also coal that testifies to fires or tells a story about changes in vegetation.

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Image showing grain pollen under the microscope (Triticum Compactum)

An interdisciplinary team of scholars decided to compare the information collected there with more traditional historical sources and rewrite the history of Pori Tucholsky and Trans Marchionne. publishing Under the supervision of Dr. Hap. Michał Słowiński, Professor at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences, appeared in Scientific Reports

One can laugh at the fact that this is the history of the outskirts of Poland at that time described from the perspective of a frog. Well, what does the bottom of the lake have to do with the great history? Yet he is. This research provides unique insight into how small local communities – settlements with, say, a dozen or so residents – were affected by major historical events: the Teutonic Wars, the Swedish Flood, and epidemics.

rake on rubber

The first author of the publication A. Michał Słowiński says in an interview with Science in Poland – PAP that in the Middle Ages there were no large human settlements near Lake Czekowski. The soil there was poor, and the place itself was not very attractive for the development of agriculture. The single farms were located near an important road – Via Marchiones. And it was he who brought great history to those regions.

a. Słowiński explains that the pollen of plants that were prevalent in the area has been preserved in the sediments of the lake. There was more pollen from cultivated plants (mainly rye) in times of long peace. After the wars, usually within a few decades, pine and birch pollen appeared instead of rye pollen and began to dominate.

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what does that mean? a. Michał Słowiński explains that in times of peace, when traders and hikers roam the trail, farmers can easily grow their crops. But during wars, the path followed the path of military parades. It can be guessed that crops were burned, locals were killed, incorporated into the army, or contracted diseases transmitted by soldiers.

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Micrograph of a sedimentary core with characteristic seasonal sediment, the so-called Varuami. (GFZ Potsdam)

As a result of these events, there was a decrease in human pressure on the natural environment, and the forest swelled in places where there were previously arable fields. Despite the fact that changes in the environment affected small groups of people, the effects of these activities are still visible today.

“This research shows that we humans have to expend a lot of energy to maintain agricultural landscapes. And to contain wildlife” – comments Prof. Słowiński.

The heroes of the chapters in medieval history books are usually notable figures, families, states, places, laws, or customs. This time, the researchers decided to update the entire narrative and find out how the road’s presence affects the environment and the local community. This unconventional approach allowed them to tell a story about how historical events had a real impact on very small communities, and thus – on nature.

PAP – Science in Poland, Ludwika Tomala

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