Kloster Schoental
Farming in the Forest
Ecology and Economy of Fire in Prehistoric Agriculture
3rd International Schöntal Conference, 11-15 July 2012, Kloster Schöntal, Germany
Location, Accommodation   Program   Organization   Call for papers   Review   General information

Ever since the early years of research on the European Neolithic the use of fire had been discussed as a means of forest clearance. The technique of slash-and-burn had been postulated by J. Iversen as initial phase in his `Landnam` model. Also for Neolithic Britain frequent use of fire for forest clearing and cultivation has been widely assumed. In 1965 E. Boserup described extensive swidden cultivation practised in tropical rain forest areas around the world. In Central Europe the idea of Neolithic swidden cultivation had been refuted in the later 1970s, based on the evidence of continuous settlement patterns in the early Neolithic (5500-4900 BC). Recent interdisciplinary research in the area of Lake Constance, however, has raised again the question of Neolithic swidden agriculture. Since 1998 the Forchtenberg long term experiment has been exploring the economic potential of a fire-based extensive cultivation and its impact on the natural environment.

Objectives of the Conference:
The 3rd Schöntal Symposium seeks to bring together archaeologists, soil scientists, palaeobotanists, archaeozoologists, historians and geographers interested in pre-industrial agriculture. Different modes of cultivation, ranging from horticulture to forest fallow systems, including the regular use of fire might be discussed in terms of their economic potential and environmental impact. Related topics are the (still widely unexplored) `archaeology of manure`, the interdependence between cultivation practices and spatial / temporal settlement patterns as well as livestock management. We equally welcome papers and posters on charcoal and Black Carbon in soils, vegetation recovering after fire and historical/ethnographical evidence for fire-based agriculture.


We are looking forward to meeting you in Schöntal!

The team, guests and student assistents during the autumnal burning in Forchtenberg, October 2004