Roman Rhine settlement dynamics evidenced by coin distribution in a fluvial environment (Oedenburg, Upper Rhine, France).

Abstract : On the basis of archaeological and alluvial records, this paper presents the first spatial analysis of artefacts in relation to the evolution of the Rhine River, at the Gallo-Roman site of Oedenburg, during the first four centuries AD. The dataset consisted of several thousand Roman artefacts found by pedestrian prospecting over the last twenty years, over half of which were coins. This dataset was used together with high-resolution topography and geomagnetic mapping, to reconstruct settlement evolution, both on the terrace and in the floodplain. A comprehensive monetary chart has been compiled for the Oedenburg site, which highlights four major phases of settlement. These results provide a possible causal link connecting historical factors and alluvial events with intra-site evolution. Therefore, while changes observed during Phases I (until AD 68), II (AD 69 to AD 180) and III (AD 180 to AD 295) seem largely related to historical and societal events, Phase IV (AD 295 to AD 402) shows patterns of abandonment of the lower part of the floodplain that may well be related to an unusually humid period in the fourth century. These results are set in a broader context, from the Rhine catchment area to the Alps, and are in agreement with the wet conditions also documented in alluvial, lacustrine, geomorphological and palynological records in Germany (Lahn River, Lake Constance, Lake Nussbaumen, Kaisersthul area and the Black Forest). Studying the intra-site spatial distribution of artefacts with high temporal constraints, at a long-lived site with contrasted topography, opens new avenues for the detection of discreet events such as a higher water table, affecting only the lower zone.
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Vincent Ollive, Christophe Petit, Jean-Pierre Garcia, Michel Reddé, Patrick Biellmann, et al.. Roman Rhine settlement dynamics evidenced by coin distribution in a fluvial environment (Oedenburg, Upper Rhine, France).. Journal of Archaeological Science, Elsevier, 2008, 35 (3), pp.643-654. ⟨10.1016/j.jas.2007.05.015⟩. ⟨hal-00275668⟩

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