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Late Holocene palaeo-environmental reconstruction and human settlement in the eastern Po Plain (northern Italy)

Bianchini, G., Cremonini, S., Di Giuseppe, D., Gabusi, R., Marchesini, M., Vianello, G., Vittori Antisari, L.
Catena 2019 v.176 pp. 324-335
Holocene epoch, alluvial plains, anthropogenic activities, carbon, chromium, copper, geochemistry, human settlements, paleoecology, palynology, phosphorus, pollen analysis, rivers, sediments, soil, zinc, Italy
A sedimentary sequence comprising a Late Bronze age archaeological site located in the alluvial plain between Bologna and Ferrara (Northern Italy) was studied from geochemical, pedological and palynological points of view. Sediment geochemistry (in particular, the high content of Cr) indicates the existence of a thin set of Po River deposits coeval to the Bronze Age site, lying among alluvial sediments delivered from the Apennine chain. The soil corresponding to this chronological interval is also characterised by anomalous content of phosphorous and chalcophile elements (mainly Cu and Zn) that are clearly related to anthropogenic activities. The results were critically discussed to reconstruct the geomorphological and regional palaeo-hydrographic settings to support the existence of an unknown buried Po River course active during the late Middle Bronze Age in the southern part of the alluvial plain. The 14C and pollen analyses corroborate this interpretation, also providing clues on the genesis of more superficial peaty horizons. On the whole, the results provide fresh insights on the occurrence of ancient human settlements in the southern Po River alluvial plain.