… when they themselves had been expelled by peoples living near the shore of the Ocean, who left their own land when a mist formed in the flood of the Ocean and a crowd of griffins appeared; the story was that they would not stop until they had devoured the race of men. So the people driven away by these monsters invaded their neighbors.


A common paradigm is that chernozem soils developed in the Holocene under grassland steppes, with their formation largely determined by three factors, parent material, climate and faunal mixing. For European chernozems, however, pollen records show that steppes were rare. Here, using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy, micro Raman spectroscopy and radiocarbon dating, we characterized the nanomorphology and chemical structure of soil organic carbon (SOC) from central European chernozems. We identified submicron remnants of burned biomass (15–45 percent of SOC), coexisting as amorphous char-black carbon (BC) derived from pyrolized cellulose or soot-BC. The BC was several millenia in age (1160–5040 carbon-14 years) and up to 3990 radiocarbon years older than bulk SOC, indicating significant residence times for BC in soils. These results challenge common paradigms on chernozem formation and add fire as an important novel factor. It is also clear that the role of fire in soil formation has been underestimated outside classical fire prone biomes. Furthermore, our results demonstrate the importance of quantifying BC in soils because of its large contribution, longevity and potential role in the global biogeochemical carbon cycle.

In black Australian grassland soils, under aboriginal fire management for thousands of years, up to 30% of the soil organic carbon (SOC) was present as BC, whereas adjacent forested soils that were not subjected to regular aboriginal burning were gray and contained little BC….. Max Planck Inst.

JUHÁSZ, Imola, Institute of Archeology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

The age of the formation of two peat bogs of Kelemér region, NE Hungary, (Kis-Mohos and Nagy Mohos) based on radiocarbon dates – contrary to the previously supposed 10.000 and 5.000 years by Zólyomi – was revealed to be 25.000 and 15.000. According to three new cores a clay-rich layer almost devoid of macrofossils between 2.7-3.0 m got probably into the southern basin of Nagy Mohos at the time of the formation of Kis-Mohos by a landslide and one can find a further 2.6 m thick pleistocene peat sediment underneath. At the Kis-Mohos basin between 3-4 m depths there is a solid deposit rich in charcoal fragments and pebbles about which Zólyomi suspected to be the base of the sediment. Underneath that layer others have found a further 4 m thick moss and meadow peat layer where a further 2 m deep Late-glacial lacustrine sediment was deposited. The layer which was previously assumed by Zólyomi to be the base slided into the basin by erosion caused by the severe forest clearance via burnings by the Celtic tribes in the region. The rise in the water level during Medieval times was probably caused by the artificial barrage of the watercover of the bog. The southern basin of Nagy-Mohos was refilled mostly by swamp layers during the Würm interstadial. The surface flora of the bog was possibly highly mosaic-like with some open-water patches. During the Upper-Würm microinterstadials with more moderate and more humid climate, a transitional sphagnum peat bog was formed at least 2 times on the bog surface and several Bryophyte species and plants still living on the peat-bog appeared that time. The Bryophyte analyses of the Pleistocene layers of Nagy-Mohos showed the presence of such arctic and boreal peat-bog assemblages, whose recent analogues can be found at the Northern part of Eurasia and previous Bryophyta analyses performed on Hungarian Upper Pleistocene peat profiles did not revealed and were until now unknown in the Carpathian-basin. We can assume on the basis of the analysis of the radiocarbon dated sediments of Nagy-Moh
os peat-bog that one of the refugial territories of several species forming also the recent bogs of the North-American and North Eurasian peat-bog territories, being under icesheet cover during the Würm period, covering recently several million km, developed in the two Mohos basins of the Kelemér region.

Macrofossil, pollen, lithostratigraphy, mineral magnetic measurements (SIRM and magnetic susceptibility), loss-on-ignition, and AMS radiocarbon dating on sediments from two former crater lakes, situated at moderate altitudes in the Gutaiului Mountains of northwest Romania, allow reconstruction of Late Quaternary climate and environment. Shrubs and herbs with steppe and montane affinities along with stands of Betula and Pinus, colonised the surroundings of the sites prior to 14 700 cal. yr BP and the inferred climatic conditions were cold and dry. The gradual transition to open Pinus-Betula forests, slightly higher lake water temperatures, and higher lake productivity, indicate more stable environmental conditions between 14 700 and 14 100 cal. yr BP. This development was interrupted by cooler and drier climatic conditions between 14 100 and 13 800 cal. yr BP, as inferred from a reduction of open forests to patches, or stands, of Pinus, Betula, Larix, Salix and Populus. The expansion of a denser boreal forest, dominated by Picea, but including Pinus, Larix, Betula, Salix, and Ulmus started at 13 800 cal. yr BP, although the forest density seems to have been reduced between 13400 and 13200cal.yrBP. Air temperature and moisture availability gradually increased, but a change towards drier conditions is seen at 13400cal.yrBP. A distinct decrease in temperature and humidity between 12900 and 11500cal.yrBP led to a return of open vegetation, with patches of Betula, Larix, Salix, Pinus and Alnus and individuals of Picea. Macrofossils and pollen of aquatic plants indicate rising lake water temperatures and increased aquatic productivity already by ca. 11800cal.yrBP, 300 years earlier than documented by the terrestrial plant communities. At the onset of the Holocene, 11500cal.yrBP, forests dominated by Betula, Pinus and Larix expanded and were followed by dense Ulmus forests with Picea, Betula and Pinus at 11250cal.yrBP. Larix pollen was not found, but macrofossil evidence indicates that Larix was an important forest constituent at the onset of the Holocene. Moister conditions were followed by a dry period starting about 10600cal.yrBP, which was more pronounced between 8600 and 8200cal.yrBP, as inferred from aquatic macrofossils. The maximum expansion of Tilia, Quercus, Fraxinus and Acer between 10700 and 8600cal.yrBP may reflect a more continental climate. A drier and/or cooler climate could have been responsible for the late expansion (10300cal.yrBP) and late maximum (9300cal.yrBP) of Corylus. Increased water stress, and possibly cooler conditions around 8600cal.yrBP, may have caused a reduction of Ulmus, Tilia, Quercus and Fraxinus. After 8200cal.yrBP moisture increased and the forests included Picea, Tilia, Quercus and Fraxinus.

The Great Hungarian Plain: A European Frontier Area (II) A. N. J. den Hollander 1. REPOPULATION UNDER THE HABSBURGS When the Habsburg dynasty had finally driven back the Turks, repopulation of the Alfold (the Great Hungarian Plain) began. The policies that were adopted reshaped the whole ethnic structure of the region. Under Turkish rule the Hungarians had become not only impoverished but greatly depleted in numbers. In Slavonia there were no Hungarians left at all and very few were left in the southern half of de BBcska, between the Franz Joseph Canal and the Danube, or in the BBnBt, or in the counties of Tolna and Baranya in Transdanubia, or in the north. The “Neo Acquistica Commissio” gave land to all who could prove title to it. Thus the municipalities were able to keep their property. The Church acquired domains, and great estates were revived. Further, the Crown gave large tracts, including land confiscated after the hapless revolt of RBkbczi, to foreigners, often to men of middle clays origin, on condition that they would settle it. The best known of these men was Johann Georg Harruckern, a contractor for the Imperial army in the Turkish war of 1716-18, who was granted five-sixths of the counry of BCkCs. The new landlords sought Hungarian settlers everywhere but too few Hungarians were left to furnish sufficient colonists. The feudal lords in the north would not permit their Hungarian serfs to leave, and Vienna was in any case too distrustful of them to wish their influence to be diffused. Hungarian colonists were barred from the military borderland, the BBnBt. Germans, Serbians, Slovaks and Wallachians, even Italians and French were brought in here. Elsewhere even Hungarian landlords imported German and Slovak peasantry. Colonists for the southern part of the Plain were recruited from all over southern Germany. The repopulation of Hungary was one of the most considerable colonial movements that 18th-century Europe knew. Under Maria Theresa it became a planned state venture. Engineers laid out new comn~unities, building hundreds of rectangular and circular villages in the south that are still to be seen. The planned-settlement area ran north approximately to the Baja- Szabadka (Subotica)-Gyula-Tenke line, within the frontier that was established by the Treaty of Trianon, and in the county of BCkCs reached as far as Torokszentmiklos. The planned villages bore no resemblance to those in South Germany, the homeland of the colonists, but were laid out in a chessboard style prescribed by Vienna.’ Nor were they at all like the peasant towns further north in the Alfold, around which the isolated farmsteads known as tanyas were to arise.-ere, where a numerous Hungarian element had managed to survive, repopulation started without any government directive. Here and there new municipalities were established: in the counties of BCkCs and NagykunsBg new villages were allowed to take over the lands of others that had been destroyed and had not revived. These new communities soon grew into the class of gian~t village. Settlement of the open country was however a slow process. There are no isolated farmsteads on the maps of 1786-88.3 Population grew but stayed in towns increasingly crowded. Between 1770 and 1835 the town of Mak6 quadrupled in size, but its population had grown from ten to twelvefold. A decree of Maria Theresa in 1766 ordered county and town authorities to do all they could to promote agri~ulture.E~s tates along the Danube were indeed producing grain for export. But most of the plain was still used for steppe stock-raising. The herds ran into hundreds of thousands.5 In consequence of their perpetual grazing and trampling, and of progressive deforestation, sand had begun to drift over larger and larger areas.6 Moreover seasonal floods made two thirds of the Plain useless for anything but pasture. East of the Tisza, from the Bega to the NyirsCg, 20,000 sq. km. stood under water for eight to ten months of the year, all except the rubble hill of the Maros. Farming was quite impossible except on a few islands and on strips at the edges of adjacent sand dunes; the sparse population lived chiefly by hunting and fishing, and by animal husbandry. Cattle had frequently to be moved by boat, some villages being accessible by road for only a few weeks in the year. No iron, not even nails, could be used in constructing wagons because they had to move through water constantly. Conditions like these prevailed here and along some stretches of the Danube until the middle of the 19th century.’ It has to be realized that agriculture on isolated farms was still very hazardous owing to the robber bands that had been organized in the Turkish era and that still persisted.8 Stock-raising, on the other hand, was still profitable, for the numerous wars of the 18th century gave opportunity for large-scale government contracts. Huge livestock markets were held in Alfold towns in early and late summer, the only seasons when travel was feasible. Great fairs like those still to be seen on the HortobAgy were held at the same time for miscellaneous general trade. Hungarian livestock was driven to markets as distant as Venice and Moscow. The extent to which life and fortune depended on the possession of livestock is well shown in the old tax assessments, which customarily ignored agriculture as serving only for family subsistence.

In the long run agriculture was bound to spread, on the better soil. Population was growing both by immigration and by natural increase, and there were no wars now to confine citizens within their walls. They began farming more, though only on a very small scale. Even in the small Maty6 villages people found it wearing to walk the distance between the houses and the fields twice a day. For the men of peasant towns whose population ran into tens of thousands and whose lands were widely dispersed it was impossible to go out to the fields and return in one day. Hence the tanya, the isolated farmstead, arose as a temporary home during the busy season. The herder’s huts (szA11As) with their animal pens, that stood here and there, would logically have been the nucleus for the new development. Old Alfold peasants still say: “The tanya was originally for the stock.” As animals were better tended their sheds had to be improved, and living quarters for the peasants had to be added. The provision of seasonal living quarters away from the town would seem to be such an obvious need that one cannot help asking whether it had not been met before, in the pre-Turkish era, whenever times were peaceful enough. On this point we have almost no data. Occasionally it may have been so. On the whole, the first tanyas appear in the 18th century, although some investigators place the appearance of the tanya in the early 19th century. Certainly there were a few tanyas in the latter half of the 18th century, in the neighborhood of Debrecen, the Haiduk towns and Szarvas.9 But it was not until the second half of the 19th century that the people really swarmed out into the country. The reasons why they did not do so earlier may also explain why, if tanyas existed in the pre-Turkish period, they were rare. One reason for the delay in their development was the prevalence of communal ownership of land. Both fields and pastures around the kertes varos were as a rule communal, holdings being allotted for periods of from two to seven years. A peasant did not consider building on land that was in his hands for so short a time. Communal control of the nature and timing of agricultural operations also hindered development of the tanya, which is essentially individualistic. It is true that most towns abolished communal property and controls before the end of the 18th century. The distribution of the former was however at first so arranged as to give everyone a piece of each type of land at equal distances from the town, with the result that everyone’s property lay in dispersed patches. Tanyas arose here and there but only as these scattered pieces could be consolidated. It was not until the second quarter of the 19th century that such consolidation became general. Only then did tanya husbandry become really profitable. At Mezokereztes, in B6rsod county, consolidation happened to be delayed until 1910. As soon as it was completed the 61-stables on the edge of the town disappeared as though by magic, and tanyas arose throughout its territory. Two other obstacles to tanya development were the existence in some regions of seignorial rights,'” and the bandit problem. Actually little was done to solve the latter until 1848, and rural life remained very insecure till late in the 19th century.” Again, town authorities, afraid that tanya people would evade their civic duties or perhaps join in new villages to seek independence, did their best to obstruct the movement. From the 1840’s we find regulations forbidding the construction of ovens or stables outside the town, on the hatir, or ordering their destruction. KesckemCt and KiskunfClegyhAza threatened tanya dwellers with fines, destruction of the tanya, and capital punishment. The Bach regime also, for administrative reasons, opposed the tanya movement. However, new institutions are apt to arise when the conditions for their existence are fulfilled and the need for them is felt sufficiently. The attitude of the authorities could delay the movement, it could not keep it in check indefinitely. The main hindrances to the rise of the tanya disappeared; the 19th century offered new economic possibilities and through these powerful incentives. Through the first half of the 19th century the Alfold was still in large part a wilderness of swamp and steppe given over to livestock. Travellers saw the country as wild, exotic and roman ti^.’^ Despite their exaggerations one must admit that the Plain was in many respects an enclave with an un- European stamp. There was some truth in the malevolent remark of a Viennese diplomat: “Behind the garden of my house Asia begins.” It is paradoxical that although there is always danger of crop failure from insufficient rainfall in the Alfold, flood has been a more serious problem than drought. The basin collects large quantities of water which have only a narrow exit through the Iron Gate. The gradient of the rivers is so slight that at low water they barely move and at high water they tend to overflow. The flood danger is aggravated by the formation of ice dams in spring. For centuries there was great damage and loss of life every year, caused both by the force of the flood waters and by swamp fever after they subsided. After the Turkish wars the Tisza was flooding about two thirds of the plain for several months annually, approximately 4,000,000 hectares. In the 1830’s there began a movement to modernize Hungary, to make it a country where man controlled nature, a country where it would be good to live. This movement owed most of all to Count Stephan SzCchenyi, “the greatest of Hungarians”.l3 It was he who built the first suspension bridge connecting Buda with Pest (“the past with the future”, as he remarked). After the unusually severe floods of 1838 he instituted large-scale drainage and river control works. It took until 1914 to complete the public works that were begun at his initiative. By that time over 6400 kilometers of dikes had been built, served by 173 pumping stations, and over 16,000 kilometers of drainage canals. A number of towns were protected by ring dikes total surface protected is larger than the Netherlands. The engineers’ feat of straightening the course of rivers (the Tisza was shortened by 450 kilometers) and deepening their beds brought about a quicker run-off in spring, and also improved navigation. Ice-blocking, particularly dangerous on the Danube, was greatly diminished. Before the region could take advantage of the growing demand for grain in Western Europe, however, the transportation problem had to be solved. The roads had never been usable except in summer and dust and sand had even then made travel slow and painful. Before 1850 only the larger towns made any effort to improve the roads and there was only one state road in the Alfold.14 It was steam that brought the region into the European economy. A steamboat company opened regular business on the Danube in 1831.15 The first railroad in the Alfold, connecting Szolnok with Budapest, opened in 1847, and in the following decade all parts of the region were reached by rail. The same rapid development occurred as in the North American West and many other “frontier” territories. The phase of road-building was skipped. At one stroke, as it were, steam abolished the isolation of such regions and threw open to them a wealth of new economic possibilities. They no longer needed to rely on livestock. Everywhere in the Alfold the plough now cut through ancient pastures. As was the case in the plains of Canada, the United States, Argentina and Australia when these were opened by rail, the main recourse was to wheat which is so easy to grow, to store and to transport: an ideal frontier crop. Within a few decades Hungary became a considerable exporter of grain, her wheat gaining an excellent reputation. Like these other newly opened lands she also acquired the lure of a “pioneer” country. According to a German writer, “no able-bodied man with capital who likes work and is mentally alert need go to North or South America; he can make a fortune much nearer home, in the forests and steppes of Hungary The spread of agriculture did not occur inward from the edge of the plain as in the South Russian steppe, the North American prairies and in Argentina. In the Alfold islands of agriculture had arisen first wherever the steppe was above flood level, and also in the neighborhood of towns. It was these islands that spread. Nor did Alfijld agriculture ever seek the rivers and avoid the hinterland and higher ground; the pattern was the reverse. It is difficult to measure the advance that was made because the only statistics we have on soil use are post-1850 and they are not broken down by regions. Yet we can see that there was continuous advance. In Hungary as a whole between 1857 and 1875 a total of 3,300,000 hectares was reclaimed for agriculture and if we include fallow, arable land increased between 1870 and 1910 from 10,200,000 hectares to 12,570.000.17 In the 1930’s roughly about 70% of the Alfold was arable (including fallow).


Watershed management has been a preoccupation in the Banat since the times of the Romans at least when they struggled to dyke the river banks of the major flooding rivers of the region and reclaim the last of the Cronian Sea. Their efforts while valiant left large lakes covering the Alfold.
In the past, due to the historical and socio-economic conditions of Romania at that time, the execution of large reclamation works was not possible. Nevertheless, interesting reclamation vestiges exist in different countries of ancient Dacia and the Romanian principalities. Records show that in the first century B.C. the Dacs in the Cris and Barcau valleys used to build dykes for protection against inundations as well as enemies. Canals in the Hateg country (Tara Hategului) used for drainage as well as irrigation date back to the second and third century and drainage works in the Birsa Depression to the thirteenth century. Since the fifteenth century documents record the existence of many small water accumulations (fish-ponds) in the Moldavian valleys as mentioned in Cantemir’s book ‘Descripto Moldaviae’ (1 71 6).

In an area that was so prone to floods, the historical region of Atlantis should be plagued and blessed with the same problems and advantages today as existed then. The scale of the threat has probably dwindled through the activities of man in search of a method to tame the treasure but in all likihood efforts would have continued. In the past, due to the historical and socio-economic conditions of Romania at that time, the execution of large reclamation works was not possible. Nevertheless, interesting
reclamation vestiges exist in different countries of ancient Dacia and the Romanian principalities. Records show that in the first century B.C. the Dacs in the Cris and Barcau valleys used to build dykes for protection against inundations as well as enemies. Canals in the Hateg country (Tara Hategului) used for drainage as well as irrigation date back to the second and third century and drainage works in the Birsa Depression to the thirteenth century. Since the fifteenth century documents record the existence of many small water accumulations (fish-ponds) in the Moldavian valleys as mentioned in Cantemir’s book ‘Descripto Moldaviae’ (1 71 6).

Big hydrotechnical works for flood protection and reclamation of swamps were carried out; e.g. regulating the Bega river and digging the navigable Bega canal in the Banat, the endikement of the Somes and Crasna rivers from 1751 to 1774 in the Northern Tisa river plain, the digging of drainage canals in Arges of the Dimbovita and Ciorogirla rivers against high water in order to protect Bucharest from flooding. Such works continued during the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. Until August 1944 the endikement works covered an area of about 622000 ha. On part of the endiked lands drainage and swamp reclamation were implemented covering 358 O00 ha (Agricultura Socialista).
Canal building methods have changed a great deal over time. Until last century however, the methods were common from the Greeks and Romans to the tamers of the great plains. The great period of canal building in the Banat region occured with the migration of the Swabian GErmans after the eviction of the Turks. Two great canals were built as well as numerous major canals such as the one being cleared by peasent labourers during the great reburbishment that occured late in the last century continuing on till today. The greatest of the canals were widened and normalized further at this time. During the period 1866-1869 the Kriegsministerium in Vienna started a large resettlement program with the founding of “Grenzkolonien” in the Banat Military

Frontier of the southern Banat (for background see; Roth, Die planmässig angelegten Siedlungen im Deutsch-Banater Militärgrenzbezirk 1765-1821). As part of this program, eight new “Marsh Settlements”, among them Giselahain, Elisenheim, Rudolfsgnad, Albrechtdorf, Marienfeld and Königsdorf, were established. Königsdorf was settled in October of 1868, by 200 German families from Stefansfeld. A massive dyke construction program was undertaken to prevent flooding. In addition to the locals, over 2000 workers, mainly from Hungary and Bavaria, were employed in this project in 1869. In spite of all this effort, these communities were repeatedly flooded. Because of disastrous flooding, Königsdorf on the Temes was abandoned in 1880 and the inhabitants returned to their place of origin, Stefansfeld. (Those tracking Stefanfelders, who are faced with gaps in the data, must consider the possibility that their people were in Königsdorf during this period. Others of these Marsh villages were paired similarly with other more established communities; tracking people in the Banat can be eased by considering these internal migration patterns.

The Köfels rockslide (Ötztal, Tirol, Austria) is recognized as the largest rockslide in the crystalline Alps. This event tookplace about 8700 radiocarbon years BP. The sudden deepening of the erosional basis of the Ötz Valley by about 300 m at the upstream margin of the rockslide and the significant change of the state of stress at the toe of the slope after the retreat of the last main glaciation

The extinct aurochs (Bos primigenius primigenius) was a large type of cattle that ranged over almost the whole Eurasian continent. The aurochs is the wild progenitor of modern cattle, but it is unclear whether European aurochs contributed to this process.
To provide new insights into the demographic history of aurochs and domestic cattle, we have generated high-confidence mitochondrial DNA sequences from 59 archaeological skeletal finds, which were attributed to wild European cattle populations based on their chronological date and/or morphology. All pre-Neolithic aurochs belonged to the previously designated P haplogroup, indicating that this represents the Late Glacial Central European signature. We also report one new and highly divergent haplotype in a Neolithic aurochs sample from Germany, which points to greater variability during the Pleistocene.
Furthermore, the Neolithic and Bronze Age samples that were classified with confidence as European aurochs using morphological criteria all carry P haplotype mitochondrial DNA, suggesting continuity of Late Glacial and Early Holocene aurochs populations in Europe. Bayesian analysis indicates that recent population growth gives a significantly better fit to our data than a constant-sized population, an observation consistent with a postglacial expansion scenario, possibly from a single European refugial population.
Previous work has shown that most ancient and modern European domestic cattle carry haplotypes previously designated T. This, in combination with our new finding of a T haplotype in a very Early Neolithic site in Syria, lends persuasive support to a scenario whereby gracile Near Eastern domestic populations, carrying predominantly T haplotypes, replaced P haplotype-carrying robust autochthonous aurochs populations in Europe, from the Early Neolithic onward. During the period of coexistence, it appears that domestic cattle were kept separate from wild aurochs and introgression was extremely rare.

Trade routes tend to reflect migratory paths. From 10,000 years ago until today, the geography of the region from China to the Black Sea and the entry of the Danube river encourages certain paths for cattle and people to follow and discourages other routes.

10,000 years ago the areas which are now desert were more Temperate, and this is not only evident in the Sahara and Middle East but also near the Iron Gates of the Caspian Sea. South of the gates, a few miles south of Baku at a place called Gobustan, are rock engravings dating from 10,000 to 8,000 years ago. Some of the engravings are reliefs and they show cattle, two-wheeled carts, lions, and other animals of a more Temperate climate. The region is now arid.

Ancestors of the Indo-Europeans may have been growing crops and raising cattle in this once luscious place, and it may very well have been the entry to a passage south of the Caucus Mountains to the ancient town of Colchis on the Black Sea (The passage south, between the Caspian and Black Seas, may have been facilitated at that time by the presence of a waterway, from an expanded sea environment – could they have travelled from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea by boat ). Colchis is the ancient place in the story of Jason and the Argonauts where Jason took the Golden Fleece, and it is also near the place in the Caucus Mountains where Prometheus was bound and tormented.
The Black Sea region played a central role in the creation myths of the Greeks. Also, it played a special role in the heroic myths of the Greeks and many other peoples, particularly with regard to the almost universal hero, Hercules. His role is also prominent in the Etruscan mythology.
amnis, quod de coelo exoritur sub solio Jovis — Plautus’ Trinummus the starry Stream For this a remnant of Eridanos, That stream of tears, ‘neath the gods’ feet is borne — Brown’s Aratos Eridanus, the River the French Eridan, the Italian Eridano, and the German Fluss Eridanus, is divided into the Northern and the Southern Stream; the former winding from the star Rigel of Orion to the paws of Cetus; the latter extending thence southwards, southeast, and finally southwest below the horizon of New York City, 2° beyond the lucida Achernar, near the junction of Phoenix, Tucana, Hydrus, and Horologium Excepting Achernar, however, it has no star larger than a 3rd-magnitude, although it is the longest constellation in the sky, and Gould catalogues in it 293 naked-eye components Although the ancients popularly regarded it as of indefinite extent, in classical astronomy the further termination was at the star theta (Acamar) in 40° 47′ of south declination; but modern astronomers have carried it to about 60° With the Greeks it usually was delta Potamos, the River, adopted by the Latins as Amnis, Flumen, Fluvius, and specially as Padus and Eridanus; this last, as Eridanos, having appeared for it with Aratos and Eratosthenes Geographically the word is first found in Hesiod’s Theogonia for the Phasis [This is the modern Rion, or Rioni, the Fasch of the Turks; this last title being a general appellation in early Oriental geography for all rivers, perhaps from tile Sanskrit Phas, Water, or Was, still seen in the German Wasser] in Asia, celebrated in classic history and mythology, That rises deep and stately rowls along into the Euxine Sea near the spot where the Argonauts secured the golden fleece
The base of the Pannonian sequence is commonly marked by transgressive sandstones and conglomerates, particularly around margins of the system and uplifted blocks This is succeeded by generally marly sediments deposited in deep brackish-water basins, followed by a mixed clastic sequence of sand, silt, clay, and marl, including occasional turbidites in basin axial areas The upper Pannonian sequence shows a more variable composition, especially in uppermost parts where paludal, fluvial, and lacustrine interbeds become increasingly common Succeeding Quaternary sediments are characterized by highly variable paludal, fluvial, and delta-plain deposits Morphological features that are traceable even on the Upper Pleistocene loesses suggest that the formation of the Balaton basin took place during the W¨urm or later Consequently, considering the pre-forming effect of neotectonic processes, the evolution of Lake Balaton may have started only some tens of thousands of years ago This assumption well corresponds to the data obtained from wells penetrating the bottom sediments of Lake Balaton These wells indicate the lack of Pliocene and Pleistocene lacustrine sediments between the Pannonian (Miocene) and Holocene lake-bottom sediments (Csernyi and Nagy-Bodor.

Nabta became a habitable area because of a climatic change that occurred over North Africa around 12,000 years ago. This climatic change was caused by a northward shift of the summer monsoons. This shift brought enough rain to the Nabta region to enable it to sustain life for both humans and animals. Although it was a small amount of rain, usually around four to eight inches (10-15 cm) per year, it was enough to fill the playas with water for months at a time. Between 11,000 and 9300 years ago, Nabta saw its first settlements. The people living at Nabta herded cattle, made ceramic vessels, and set up seasonal camps around the playa.

Once fall came and the playa dried up, these people had to migrate to areas where more water was available, possibly to the Nile in the east or perhaps to areas further south. Larger settlements began to pop up shortly after 9000 years ago. These people were able to dig wells that supplied them with enough water to live at Nabta year round. They survived on a number of wild plants and small animals like hares and gazelles. By around 8100 years ago there is evidence for the domestication of larger animals including goats and sheep. This is also a time when the people of Nabta started to produce pottery locally.

Settlements became larger and more sophisticated. One settlement from this period contains 18 houses arranged in two, possibly three straight lines. It also contains numerous fire hearths and these amazing walk-in wells. This settlement also shows the establishment of an organized labor force. This settlement and all the other settlements at Nabta were abandoned for a couple of long stretches between 8000 and 7000 years ago when two major droughts occurred. These droughts caused the water table to be lowered to around the same level as it is today, causing Nabta to be hyper-arid and virtually lifeless for long periods of time.
About 4800 years ago there was another climatic change. The African monsoons shifted south to approximately the same area that they were prior to 12,000 years ago. The land became hyper-arid again and caused human habitation at Nabta to cease. The cattle worshipping people of Nabta had to migrate to a more livable area. But to where did these people migrate Some people believe that the people of Nabta eventually made their way to the Nile Valley. Perhaps they were the people responsible for the rise of the Egyptian Empire. This theory is based on the prominence of cattle in the religious belief system of Pre-dynastic Egypt continuing into the Old Kingdom.

ALGAN, Oya, Institute of Marine Sciences and Mgnt, Vefa, Istanbul 34470 Turkey, algan@istanbul.edu.tr.

The evidences of water exchanges between the Black and Mediterranean Seas extends to 30 ky BP in the Istanbul Strait and the Marmara Sea, and are mostly in agreement with each other. However the history of the reconnection of the two basins during Holocene are still contradictory.

The lowermost sedimentary unit above the Paleozoic basement reflects a freshwater shallow environment at about 26 ky BP, with yellow-brown, well sorted medium to fine sands containing neo-euxinian fresh water mollusc species. It indicates a connection between the Black Sea and the neo-euxinian-lake part of the Strait.

The sediments from the Marmara Sea also indicates a prevailing freshwater lake conditions until 12 ky BP, before the Mediterranean waters inundate it with globally rising sea level. Between the last glacial maximum and the main period of deglaciation, the Marmara Sea and small depressions of the Strait became site of isolated neo-euxinian lake sedimentation, with the lowering of sea level in the Black Sea.

Deposition of sapropelic layers in the Marmara Sea between 10.6 and 6.4 ky BP is shown to be associated with the strong outflow from the Black Sea, while Mediterranean waters were prevented from entering the Istanbul Strait. Available seismic profiles from the southern shelf of the Black Sea indicate a major erosional surface.

This eroded surface, varying in a water depths of between -95 and 125 m, is almost exposed to the sea floor and covered only by a thin veneer, indicating the lowstand of sea level before the latest rise in the Black Sea. The absence of onlap in the thin veneer suggests that the latest rise/transgression must have occurred relatively fast or steady.

The beginning of this latest transgression, regardless of Black Sea or Mediterranean originated waters, was found to be at about 11.8 ky BP in the southwestern shelf, whereas 8.5 ky in the southeastern shelf from the coarse-grained shelly (mixed neo-euxinian and Mediterranean fauna) sedimentary unit lying at or close to erosional surface.

Luis et al estimated an expansion time of 13.7-17.5 ky for the K2 lineages in Egypt, although it also states the K2 could have accompanied R1*-M173 back into Africa in the paleolithic along with the U and M1.

For Europe proper, the collision between Eurasia and Africa created a vast shatter zone in which plates fragmented, warped, thrust, and twisted to shape the Mediterranean Basin, a subcontinental region neither wholly European nor wholly African but a crustal breccia of the two. In time–the opposing forces have not yet ceased–an almost unbroken chain of mountains divided northern from mediterranean Europe. Oceanic crust rode into the Alps, the Balkans, the Anatolian plateau. Volcanoes boiled up from hot spots in southern Italy, Sicily, Malta, and the Aegean. Crust splintered to form Corsica, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands. With each thrust and parry, Iberia, like the battered gate of a barbican, swung around the hinge of the Pyrenees. The cratonic crust buckled downward to fashion enormous depressions before or behind the ringing mountains that in turn filled to become the Aral, the Caspian, the Black, and the Mediterranean seas. Europe acquired its distinctive, perhaps defining, matrix of lands and seas.
But what geology roughed out, climate refined. Not merely land but water defined Europe’s borders; and climate, not solely tectonics, inscribed the boundaries of European existence. The distribution of land and water had historical as well as geographic dimensions. Sea level rose and fell with climatic tides, alternately draining the continental shelves into lowlands or flooding them into shallow seas. The border between land and water was dynamic–sometimes global, sometimes local–as seas deluged old valleys and plains, as soils filled coastlines and bays, as mountains inched upward, and as land, groaning with sediments, subsided under its lithic burden. The ebb and flow of the world ocean determined whether Britain and Ireland were continental highlands or outright islands; whether peripheral basins were littoral lowlands or filled to become the Black, Adriatic, North, White, and Baltic seas; where and how the relics of past shorelines resided, swept inland or outward like enormous sand berms; how, at Gibraltar, the Atlantic and Mediterranean met.
The Mediterranean Basin has sometimes been a blue sea and sometimes a saline hellhole. Over six million years ago Iberia slammed its gate shut while the world ocean dropped. In consequence, the Mediterranean dried into a Death Valley six times the size of California and deeper than Mount Whitney is high. When the Atlantic finally breached the Gibraltan barrier, it cascaded over a two-kilometer fall at a rate ten times that of Niagara. The cycle repeated over and again, ceasing only five million years ago. The solar draining of the Mediterranean known as the Messinian salinity crisis, dramatically redefined the southern border of Europe. Whether the basin held water or evaporites profoundly influenced the regional climate. Filled, the basin was a mixing bowl; emptied, it was a barrier.
More recently, with the sea full, the drying of the Sahara (in its final stages, 6,000 to 4,000 years ago) has erected a more meaningful border. Lands that once flourished as a savanna stocked with African megafauna from giraffes to gazelles, that knew rivers fetid with hippopotamus and reeds, dried up like a mudcrack. The animals vanished, preserved only in bones and ocher cave paintings, and were replaced by the camel; rivers sank into sands, fossil reservoirs of once-flourishing wadis; and North Africa joined the Mediterranean melange, part European, part Asian, segregated from sub-Saharan Africa more fully than if its crust had rifted apart or if its stony surface had sunk beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
Climatic forces redrew the northern borders of Europe with equal thoroughness. Glaciation–some seventeen major episodes since the advent of the Pleistocene–scraped out and weighted down the Baltic basin, periodically scoured valleys in the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Scottish Highlands, redistributed soils, and redefined what land would be available when. The presence of massive ice sheets spread periglacial conditions far beyond its moraines and meltwaters. The enormous mass of ice sopped up water from the world ocean like a sponge, dropping the global shoreline. But what northern Europe gained from continental shelves newly emerged from the ocean, it more than lost to advancing ice. The border of boreal Europe was what the ice made it; that border moved with the ponderous ice sheets. Even after the ice departed, land depressed by the ice masses rebounded upward, and continues to do so, reconfiguring not merely the shorelines and depth of the Baltic but the landed bulk of Finland and Sweden.
Europe became a plexus of peninsulas. West of the Urals the European landmass, like a splintering wedge, breaks into a fractal geometry of peninsulas, shorelines, and barely sundered islands. No other continent–certainly not the rest of Eurasia–has anywhere near the proportion of coastline to landmass characteristic of Europe, or anything like its ratio of water to land. Only southeastern Asia approaches those proportions, and here the comparison fails not only because the trend dissolves into islands outright but because the islands are, geologically speaking, of oceanic origin, not slivers from a splintering continent.
Europe’s distinctive fire history reflects this anomalous mix of land and water, or more precisely the peculiar distribution, in space and time, of wet and dry conditions. Fire needed both. It was necessary to grow fuels, and then to prepare them for burning. What mattered was not that a place was wet or dry on average, but the way in which wet and dry conditions interchanged. Wet years in dry climates could build up abnormal levels of fuel, stoking fire where little was normally possible; so, too, dry years in wet regions could ready existing stocks of biomass, normally immune from fire, for burning.
Roughly, the magic area forms a rough diamond, with a short axis running north and south, and a long axis east and west. One axis is primarily a gradient of temperature, the other of moisture. Taken together, Europe’s fire provinces reside at the center and four apexes–Mediterranean to the south, Boreal to the north, Atlantic to the west, Eurasian to the east, and Central at the core.
The most easily identified is Mediterranean Europe. An immense shoreline fringed by mountains, the Mediterranean revolves climatically around two strongly developed seasons: a short, wet winter, and a prolonged, dry summer. Droughts and episodes of intense, dry heat are also frequent. Strong winds, sufficiently notorious to receive local names, spill across mountains. In the summer come the tramontana of Catalonia and Italy, the Rhone’s mistral, the khamsin of Lebanon and Syria, the sharav of Israel, the Maghreb’s sirocco, the poniente in Valencia, the levante in the Straits of Gibraltar, the bora of the Balkans; in the winter, the desiccating Fohn winds that blow over the Alps, across the Spanish meseta, and along the lee of storm-wracked ranges. Thus every year the summer favors burning and every few years drought ensures that combustion can be extensive. Then the rains restore the fuels. The phoenix flora is ready to burn again. The opportunities for fire are endless, and the flames seemingly eternal.
The northern complement is boreal Europe, also clustered around an inland sea. But where the Mediterranean Sea tends toward salinity, the Baltic edges into fresh water. Winters are long, cold, and wet; summers short and (comparatively) dry. The prospects for burning, as for other forms of decomposition, are brief. When they occur, fires can erupt with savage, stand-clearing intensity. Large-scale burning requires drought, and that reflects the fluid frontier between maritime influences from the Atlantic and continental influences from the Eurasian landmass. Boreal Europe balances in the tidal zone between them. When–for a month, a year, a decade–wet conditions ebb, then fire advances.
Europe’s long axis, from the Atlantic to the Eurasian interior, is a gradient of moisture. Increasingly, land reclaims sea, and a dry climate replaces a wet one. For Atlantic Europe, islands all, maritime climates are the norm, although trade winds and storm patterns often divide the land into a geography of wet windward and drier lee sides. For Eurasian Europe the maritime influences wedge out, narrowing dramatically beyond the Urals. The province’s northern border traces the frozen arctic Ocean; its southern, the monsoon-blocking mountains of central Asia. The greater bulk of land, even where forested, is dry, subject to long cold winters and warm summers. Land and water compete primarily through muskegs, rivers, and thawing permafrost; winter snows are relatively light, and Siberian precipitation falls mostly in summer storms. Only in the Far East, where the summer Asian monsoon swings around the blocking mountains, does the continental climate collapse.
That leaves central Europe, a vast aurea mediocritas that sweeps from the Atlantic to the Urals. Its informing geoclimatic facts are the magnitude of its exposure to the Gulf Stream and the absence of intercepting mountains in its long-scoured continental shield. The one projects warm waters from the Caribbean into the North Atlantic, the other means that nothing blocks the prevailing westerlies from transferring that moisture and relative warmth inland in a climatic wedge. Large inland seas frame it north and south. The upshot is that central Europe boasts a temperate climate far north of expected latitudes, and a maritime presence far inland from the nominal shoreline. While seasons exist, there are no annually defined wet and dry periods; instead hot and cold epochs, wet and dry eras slowly fluctuate over the course of decades and centuries.
These provincial boundaries are porous, mobile, and often unstable over time. Northern and southern borders can change with the advance or recession of ice sheet and desert; the frontier between continental and maritime climates swings back and forth as high pressure moves east or west, as storm tracks veer north or south. Winds seep from one province to another. Exceptional times–years without summers, summers of endless rain, seasons crushed by drought–are as vital in shaping the character of a province as the norm. Moreover, if provincial borders divide, they also join; mountains and seas are corridors as well as barriers; select mediterranean flora, for example, have traversed across the southern rim of Europe from Anatolia to the Himalayas.
To this geographic figuration there is an uncanny symmetry. North and south, there is the complementarity of ice and sun, a gradient of temperature; east and west, of land and sea, a gradient of moisture. Central Europe rests at the plump axis of this rough diamond. Viewed one way it is a source, both intellectual and institutional, for European fire practices; the province that, more than others, has determined the means and ends of European fire. Viewed another way, it is a sink for European fire regimes, the burned-out core of a fire that has survived by propagating away.
Some 80 percent of the Pleistocene was glacial, the ice-free epochs fleeting and unstable. Under the impress of the tidal ice, Europe’s biotic constituents experienced extinction, retreat, recolonization, fragmentation, and reconstitution, not once but over and again.
The conclusion of the final glacial epoch, the Wurm (the primum mobile of Europe’s Holocene history), signaled the onset of a modern climate, and the retreating ice made Europe a virtual terra nova. Old World Europe was, paradoxically, as much a new world as the Americas, and certainly newer than Australia and Africa. Considering the relative magnitude of their ice sheets and periglacial penumbras, Europe’s renewal was proportionally greater than North America’s. Released from its refugia, the biota seized the exposed lands as weeds would a plowed field. The biological recolonization of western Europe was one of the planet’s great land rushes, the prelude to a subsequent, human-assisted dispersion throughout the globe.
It was a tough, opportunistic biota, well suited to pioneering. Its repeated climatic heating and quenching had tempered it like steel into a sword. Accustomed to the long rhythms of snow and sun, it adapted to the annual cycle of seasons. That violent climatic history had wiped out many of the returning species or driven them back into hiding, leaving the saving remnant both impoverished and highly selective. Over and again that biotic elect had survived in mountain refugia, while climatic storms blew over it. In North America, species could migrate over broad landscapes. On the narrowing peninsulas and isthmuses that composed western Europe, such flight was not possible; and ice, sea, and mountain squeezed the surviving biota ever tighter in a geophysical vise. No other continent experienced a reformation quite so extensive, certainly none so recently in its evolutionary history.
Between 10,000 and 8,000 years B.P., as the ice sheets withdrew in climatic collapse, long suppressed flora raced to the new lands, each at its own rate, roughly following the path of botanical scout species. Trees congregated in whatever associations could survive, an ecosystem managed like a mining camp. Birch, aspen, and pine–avid pioneers all–led this biotic folk migration, helping to stabilize and maturate the soils, breaking the land for other, less volatile species. The deciduous forests came later. Elm and hazel, untrammeled, expanded over their range in less than 500 years. Oak, linden, alder, and ash advanced more cautiously. Increasingly the biota responded not only to the physical matrix of rock, sand, marsh, loess, and moraines left by the ice but to the presence of other species. Some species thrived together, some did not. Biotic colonizers first conquered, then converted the frontier, and so proclaimed the tragedy of the pioneers who could no longer survive in the land they had so eagerly transformed.
By 8,000 years ago the modern ensemble of biogeographic provinces was evident. Warmer and wetter conditions had driven the steppes east; an evergreen woodland, complete with an understory of tough shrubs and grasses, had colonized the Mediterranean littoral; tundra retired to the cold coast of the Arctic Ocean; the boreal forest advanced from the east and south onto Fennoscandinavia; and a mixed woodlands, rich in decidious species, an omnium gatherum of temperate species, filled central Europe like forty-niners pouring into California. Specialty biomes proliferated, particularly along the margins of sea and mountain–fens, blanket bogs, heath, marshes, alpine nooks, and craggy shore.
Yet these associations were still unsettled. Opportunistic species had grabbed onto newly revealed landscapes, and aggregated into communities of convenience. Europe’s ecosystems roughly began to assume their modern form. Still, some species lagged and with them the dynamics of the fully stocked woods and marshes. Rising temperatures reached a maximum around 7,000 years ago, and then dropped somewhat to a more or less equilibrium figure around 6,000 years B.P. Sea level stabilized. The contemporary climate arrived, its full biotic baggage yet to come. Spruce, for example, began its major travels only 2,000 years ago, an expansion that is still in progress.
Throughout, there was one species of special note. Early on, hominids joined the boisterous throng that recolonized Europe. Homo sapiens was always and everywhere present–a forager along the ice edge, a hunter in periglacial steppes, an opportunist amid birch and pine, a resident within woodlands, a transient visitor to bog and heath and fens. Humans were seizers of disturbed sites who had the capacity to further disturb. Restlessly, compulsively, Homo reorganized the biota–adding and subtracting species, reshaping biomes as he did coarse flint into arrowheads; harvesting, pruning, plucking, draining, planting, digging, watering, and through proxy fauna, grazing, browsing, fertilizing, trampling; and above all, burning.
The change in the started some 12,900 years ago. Over a period of several millenia, all waters below about 350 meters depth in the entire eastern Mediterranean – from Sicily to the Middle East and from the African margin to the European continent – became starved of oxygen. In some basins, like the Aegean Sea, the upper limit reached even shallower depths, up to 120 meters. The oxygen-starvation (also called ‘anoxia’, meaning ‘non-oxygenated’) wiped out the entire deep ecosystem of the eastern Mediterranean.
Except for some specialised microbes, no organisms can survive anoxia, especially when such conditions are sustained over more than a few seasons to years. On a basin-wide scale, sustained deep-water oxygenation only resumed around 6,000 years Before Present (BP), following the initial shutdown around 9,500 years BP. The 3,500-year episode of basin-wide anoxia below 350 meters depth caused an ecological catastrophe of stupendous proportions.
Ironically, our early ancestors, living around the shores of the Mediterranean, may have been completely oblivious to the environmental devastation in the greater depths of the sea that provided their fish and other seafood. We can compare this situation with that in the present-day Black Sea: the anoxic, virtually sterile depths are hidden below a fertile, productive, system in the surface layers that remain sufficiently oxygenated by exchange with the atmosphere. In today’s Black Sea, the sharp gradient in oxygen concentrations between well oxygenated surface layers and anoxic deep waters – technically known as the ‘oxycline’ – resides around 100 m depth. It sat around 350 meters depth in the eastern Mediterranean between 9,500 and 6,000 years BP.
Had our ancestors had the technology to make basin-wide inventories, they might even have noted an increase in the exploitable stocks of shallow-living (‘epi-pelagic’) marine life in the eastern Mediterranean. The surface system was enriched with nutrients vital to the growth of microscopic marine plants – ‘phytoplankton’ – due to a natural fertilisation process that consisted of nutrient up-mixing from the deep anoxic layers. The epi-pelagic organisms, living specifically in the surface waters, could therefore thrive on increased food supplies. Meanwhile, however, fundamental habitat destruction took place for all species that spent (part of) their life in intermediate to great depths – ‘meso-’ to ‘bathy-pelagic’ organisms, respectively.
Ultimately, the reduction of biodiversity, due to extermination of the meso/bathy-pelagic ecosystem, reverberated through the entire food web. It upset the precarious balance in competition for resources within the ecosystem, triggering a dramatic shift in living strategies throughout the basin. The abrupt extermination of many ‘specialist’ species, which had over time adapted to a narrow range of specific conditions, offered vacant possession of their habitats to new species with great flexibility regarding their preferred living conditions (‘opportunists’).
When conditions even marginally improved, opportunists rapidly moved to colonise the barren wastelands. Recolonisation by the specialists was much slower, following the expansion of their specific living conditions from the small patches – ‘refugia’ – where they had survived in marginal numbers. Even today, 6,000 years after the reinstatement of deep-water oxygenation, the eastern Mediterranean’s deep ecosystem has not yet fully recovered.
What caused this catastrophe? Fresh water! Globally, the monsoons had been gaining in intensity since about 12,900 years BP, in their long-term response to changes in the position of earth relative to the sun. One distinct consequence was the severe reduction in size of the Sahara, being compressed by a dramatic northward shift in the monsoonal penetration over Africa. Many large lakes existed in the Sahara, from west to east. Fossils and paintings/carvings from central Saharan sites bear witness of a diverse African wildlife that included giraffe, elephant, rhino, hippo, antelope and ostrich. A wealth of archaeological sites suggests extensive presence of humans with pastoral lifestyles, as confirmed in the rich Saharan art. The ending of the monsoonal maximum started about 6,500 years BP, leading to the present-day type conditions by about 4,000 years BP.
During the maximum, monsoon-fed rivers drained the North African margin, and the Nile River especially was affected. Its flow-rate had swollen to triple those of historical times before the completion of the Aswan dam. At the same time, much more humid conditions prevailed over the lands along the northern margin of the Mediterranean. In particular, summer rainfall was strongly increased, in stark contrast with the typical winter-wet summer-dry climate of the present-day Mediterranean.
The strong increase in freshwater flux into the semi-isolated Mediterranean basin notably reduced the salt concentrations (‘salinity’) of its surface waters. This inhibited deep-water formation, depriving the deep-sea from ventilation with new, oxygenated, deep water. An anoxic catastrophe had become inevitable ….
So what is the “The dark secret of the Mediterranean?” It refers to the repeated depostion of the dark, olive green to pitch black, organic-rich sedimentary layers (‘sapropels’) that formed during such anoxic episodes. The ‘secret’ about them concerns the fact that only a small group of people is aware that they exist at all, and that their formation is repetitive in time, following the beat of an astronomical clock. It has been so for at least three – possibly nine – millions of years. The “dark secret” title sounds perhaps a bit dramatic and ominous? I consider that to be justified, since periods of sapropel deposition were periods of profound ecosystem collapse, caused by a collapse of deep ventilation and consequent oxygen starvation in the water column from the bottom to 350 meters depth.
The low altitude Pannonian Basin is ~800 km and 400 km wide in E-W and N-S direction respectively and has an average altitude of ~150 m asl. It is surrounded by elevated mountain ranges of the Eastern Alps (~2000 m asl.), Carpathians (~1500 m) and Dinarides (~1000 m). It comprises several subbasins separated from each other by basement highs (up to 1000 m asl.}
The Vienna and the Transylvanian Basins (VB and TrB) are not part of the Pannonian Basin sensu stricto, as they have had distinct geodynamic evolution (Horváth 1993). The lowlands of the Danube Basin (DB, also known as Little Hungarian Plain) and the Great Hungarian Plain (GHP) are separated by the uplifted basement units of the NE-SW tending Hungarian Mountain Range (HMR). The HMR consists of two parts, the Transdanubian Range (TR) in the W and the North Hungarian Range (NHR) in the E separated by the Danube valley

The Pannonian lithosphere and crust is thinned (Horváth 1993), and characterised by high heat flow (Dövényi and Horváth 1988). The pre-Tertiary basement is made of mainly Mesozoic nappe piles of Eastern Alpine – Inner Carpathian and Dinaric origin, and is covered by up to 7 km of Neogene-Quaternary sediments (Horváth et al. 1988). Two major basement units were identified: the northern unit is called Alcapa (Eastern ALpine – Western Carpathian – PAnnonian); the southern one is the Tisza-Dacia (Géczy 1973, Kázmér and Kovács 1985, Csontos et al. 1992, Fig. 1-2). These microplates took shape during late Jurassic through Cretaceous to early Paleogene tectonic history at different paleo-geographic positions. During the Tertiary they got subsequently juxtaposed and transported to their present position within the embayment of the Carpathian loop (e.g. Balla 1985, 1987, Fodor et al. 1999). The Alcapa and Tisza-Dácia blocks were separated by the ~SW-NE trending Mid-Hungarian Shear Zone (MHSZ, Balla 1985), the major tectonic feature of the Intra-Carpathian area. Cenozoic sediments cover major part of this lineament that suffered repeated tectonic reactivations during the Tertiary and, most likely, during the Quaternary structural evolution of the area (Balla 1985, 1987, Csontos and Nagymarosy 1998, Gerner et al. 1999, Fodor et al. 1999).

The late Pleistocene started 130 ka ago. This is the shortest and best-known epoch of the Pleistocene including the maximum extent of the ice sheets on the northern hemisphere between 21 and 17 ka (Last Glacial Maximum, LGM). Around 10 ka the onset of fast warming ended the last glacial period, which meant the end of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the present, Holocene epoch (OIS 1). This is the shortest period of the geochronology, most probably a new interglacial stage still forming part of the Pleistocene “Ice Age”. However, due to its prominent importance in human life and evolution it has been defined as an independent age.

Recent proposals of the commissions of Neogene and Quaternary stratigraphy (ICS/INQA) tried to standardize the term Quaternary (e.g. Gibbard 2004, Ogg 2004, Clague 2006). According to these there are several options including e.g. the elimination of the term “Quaternary”, or the decoupling the base of the Quaternary (2.6 Ma) from the Plio-Pleistocene boundary (1.8 Ma). However, none of these have been accepted nor widely applied in the literature so far.

The Pannonian Basin is situated in the junction of three climate zones: oceanic, continental and mediterranean. Pleistocene climate oscillations led to the displacement of the boundaries of these climate zones, which induced complex response of the climatic factors and related surface processes in the basin interior.
During glacial periods the area of the Pannonian Basin was situated south of the North-European ice sheet. Only the highest ranges of the Carpathian chain were glaciated, the snowline was at an elevation between 1500-1900 m asl. (Zólyomi 1952, Willis et al. 2000). Consequently, no perennial snow covered the mid-altitude mountains and hills of the Pannonian Basin. The annual precipitation in the Pannonian Basin decreased to a 180-200 mm, and the mean annual temperature was around -3 °C (Kordos and Ringer 1991, Járainé Komlódi 1966, 1969). Under these cool and dry, periglacial climate conditions pine (Picea, Larix) forests and subalpine meadows occupied the inner-Carpathian mountains like e.g. the area of the HMR. Deciduous trees could survive these phases in small refuge areas, from where they could spread relatively fast during interglacials and interstadials. Treeless loess steppe with tundra vegetation was typical on the lowlands, hills and pediments until ~250-300 m asl, above this height scattered trees and grove spots appeared (Zólyomi 1952, Járainé Komlódi 1966,1969, 1991).

The majority of the evolutionary models of the area support a complex landscape evolution, by joint effect of structural and external forces. In the first half of the 20th century Lóczy
(1913), Cholnoky (1918) and Pávai-Vajna (1925) suggested dominant effect of eolian erosion on development of the meridional valley system. In the second half of the last century major or exclusive role of fluvial erosion was emphasized (Bulla 1958, Kéz 1943, Láng 1954, Marosi 1962, Lovász 1975), occasionally with subordinate importance of eolian activity (Pécsi 1986). Neotectonic investigations of Magyari et al. (2005) and Csontos et al. (2005) suggest considerable role of Quaternary reverse and strike-slip reactivation of earlier fault systems in the landscape evolution of the Transdanubian Hills, especially in the formation of the longitudinal valleys.

A significant part of the extended plains of Hungary and Romania and Serbia were, even at the beginning of the Neolithic period, covered by large masses of fresh water, which little by little, during the course of several thousands of years, retreated through the cataracts of the Danube and even maybe through subterranean channels. Even today, a significant district in Romania is called Maramures, meaning dead sea, mare morta (the Cimbri called the northern ocean Morimarusam, hoc estmortuum mare. Pliny, H. N. IV.27.4).The historical documents of Middle Age Hungary often mention different swamps, lakes and marshes in the Tiso-Danubian basin, which in those times were called Mortua, Mortva and Mortua magna, meaning dead water. Even the name Mures, of the principal river of Transylvania, which appears in the medieval historical documents under the name Morisius (Cod.Arpadianus, XVIII 62. 1291), Marusius (Kemeny, Nititia, II.41), Morusius (Schuller, Archiv.I.p680), is evidence that in a remote time the basin of this river was only a dead water (Marusa). And on another hand, there still exists in Romania, an old and widespread tradition that the plains of the Romanian country, of Hungary and the valleys of Transylvania, were once covered by an internal sea. So, George Brancovici’s Chronicle, written around 1690, contains the following tradition about the sea in the countries of Dacia.“This Pombie (Pompei the Great), cut the bridge at Byzantium, so that the black sea entered into the white sea and it is told that the countries of Moldova, Muntenia and Ardel were left dry” (Ar.Densusianu, Revista critica literara 1893, p367).This tradition, that in a remote epoch the Black Sea had no issue, was first stated by Strato from Lampsac (d.270bc). The Black Sea, maintains he, might have once been completely closed, and the strait at Byzantium might have opened because of the enormous pressure of the masses of water brought in the Euxine Pontus by the great rivers. The same may have happened also, says he, with the Mediterranean Sea, which, following a great accumulation of river waters, might have broken the western barrier, and, following its flowing into the external sea, the former swampy places of Europe might have drained (Strabo, Geogr.I.3.4).Another tradition, identical in fact with that of Brancovici’s chronicle, is communicated from the village Habud, in the Prahova district: A long time ago, the land of this country, this tradition tells us, was covered with water,which could never drain, because at there was a rock mountain at the Black Sea. The Turks started to cut that mountain. They dug for twenty four years and still could not finish, but a great earthquake came and broke that mountain in two, and immediately the water drained in the sea. Finally, another tradition is transmitted from Banat, Maidan village: “We heard from our elders that the land which we inhabit now, might have once been a sea of water, and only in the mountains dwelt some wild men, whom our ancestors defeated, then settled here. Our king Trajan opened the way for the water here, at Babacaia. (Baba Caia, Caia the Old Woman). We note that in Romanian traditions Hercules also appears often under the name Trojan). When there was water here, the people got about in boats and sailboats. It is said that the “cula” (TN – a fortified house) from Verset might have been built in those times. One could see from there to another “cula” across the Danube, and to another, across the Mures; when an enemy boat came, a big light was made on top of the “cula”, to let the other brothers know that the enemy had entered the country”. We also note here that in Hungary there still exists a folk tradition that the plains of that country were once covered by water, which later had drained through the strait of the Iron Gates (Ertekezesek)]

The Noah Lawsuit
In 1997, Hungary, being well prepared for action, brought a monumental lawsuit to the Hague seeking the re-establishment of a watershed that had existed since the last ice age but had recently been destroyed by the construction of a Slovakian canal.
Precedent for the 21st Century: The Danube Lawsuit at the Hague

By Bela Liptak, 25 May 1997

As the ice cover receded to the North, some eight thousand years ago, the Pannon Sea was formed in the Carpathian Basin. The water from the melting snow was carried into it by a river, which the Romans called Ister and we call the Danube. This ancient sea delta was located, where the borders of Austria, Hungary and Slovakia meet. The unique flora and fauna, which evolved from Europe’s only inland sea delta, survived in the Szigetkoz (island region) of Hungary into the 20th Century.

Final accepted brief By Béla Liptßk, 27 December 1997

The environmental stakes in this case are very high: The wetlands involved are the remains of the only inland sea delta in Europe. This delta survived since the last Ice Age, when the Pannon Sea filled the Carpathian Basin. Some 400 unique species have survived from what used to be this Pannon sea delta, and what today is called the Szigetkoz (”the region of a thousand islands”—in Hungarian), where, since the rerouting, not a single island remains,—as there is no water.

The Danube Lawsuit is a ground breaking legal question which argues that nations up river don’t have the right to destroy habitat below. This is much the issue that brought the man who would be king to power in Kipling but above this it established a legally accepted fact which has been ignored by non local science, a fact that has very wide reaching implications beyond its raison d’etre.

The Carpathian Basin is a very deep bowl [up to 7km] formed as several plates came into conflict over millions of years and continue to do so even today.In the more established language of the mature scientists of the area, it has become filled with several kilometers of flood and wind-like deposits from the several ice ages which have affected the area. It was an established fact that the basin had hosted a long lived lake [Pannon] for millions of years but it had been conventional wisdom that this lake had disappeared at least 100,000 years if not millions of years ago.

With the necessity to show what watershed had been affected by the Slovakian canal, bore hole evidence from thousands of sites across the basin were examined and it could be shown that at the end of the last ice age, Lake Pannon filled the basin and the area in question had been a delta where the waters from the upper Danube entered this body of water.

So how does this greatly affect our world when we don’t live in the basin and noone is peeing our stream?It might just touch us historically, mythologically and biblically. In short it might just change everything.

It must be asked how and when Lake Pannon formed. Was there a previously existing lake which newly liberated ice age waters entered? It is apparent how deep the water became from the height of the deltal plateau at the centre of this question. In any case,bore hole evidence suggests that there was a large surge of water which brought a thick sand deposit to cover a layer of charcoal and pebbles near the head end [Nagy Mohos] and all that covered a long lived meadow.. At the opposite end of the basin [upper Timis], again direct evidence of a great surge and a huge landslide 8000 years later.

What was the effect on the population of the baswhere was heavily populated considering the ideal conditions.What would have happened to the traces of these people and who would have survived. What affect did it have on the mesolithic-neolithic transition? Maps of the era do not include a great body of water even though it is logical to assume it would have had a great deal to do with molding civilization. It would have had a name and its character certainly changed over time. It seemingly is never mentioned in any literature but is it? Terms such as “coasts” of Illycrium and a “fleet” on the Danube with no obvious port suddenly take on new meaning but why has this been missed


Seismic profiles in the Transdanubian Hills demonstrated significant tilting of the entire Pannonian sequence towards S-SE (e.g. Horváth and Tari 1999). Single-channel high resolution seismic profiling of Sacchi et al. (1999) below Lake Balaton revealed that all the layers are erosionally truncated and Holocene sediments of up to 5 m thickness overlie upper Pannonian beds unconformably. This late Miocene – Pleistocene hiatus was interpreted as a subaerial erosional surface, and together with the tilted Pannonian strata verify the latest Neogene – Quaternary uplift of the Transdanubian Range


1 riverine willow groves, poplar, elm, ash and oak magastéri mixed szálerdők, reed marshes, saline, saline oak forests, peat-FENS. 2. Great sand ridge desert lily stalk and tölgyessel, poplar center juniper, pontusszubmediterrán sandy nature, dune saline. 3. lowland oak forest patches of grassy loess-Tatarian, törpemandulás shrubs. 4. Part of the Great Plains erdőssteppéjének submediterranean downy oak-oak-Tatarian tölgyerdeje, löszpuszta spots. 5. Tatarian lösztölgyese erdőssteppe of Wallachia. 6. Field alföldperemi juharos tölyes cool-continental basis. 7. Moldavian-Tatarian felszakadozó Podolian loess ridge oaks. 8. Eastern European oak closed lomberdős zone gyertyánnal. 9. rich composition, rich füvű steppe zone. 10. kurtafüves Ürmös steppe zone. 11. hills of the Pannonian oak-oak closed szálerdeje. 12. dry oak forest in Central Europe. 13. sub-Mediterranean downy oak and floral kőrises zártlombú karst. 14. Dacia Moesia hilly and tan-oak farnettó szálerdők. 15. Balkan mountain ezüsthársas-pedunculate oaks. 16. Sub-Illyrian downy oak-flowering ash mixed karst-Hop Hornbeam, Oriental Hornbeam bozótosodott and its derivatives. 17. Sub-Pontus mixed karst. 18. Central European and sessile oak-hornbeam mélyárnyékú szálerdők (beech island), pedunculate oak-hornbeam ártérperemi. 19. Central and Southern Europe mélyárnyékú mountain beech, fir-beech forests Illyrian southwest, northeast Carpathians Transylvania basis. 20. European alpine spruce, pine and subalpine subalpine Cirbolya-havasgyepek. 21. Central European mixed oak pine forest acid soils. 22. North-East Europe, podszol soils nyíreserdő pine forest zone, part woods yet. 23. era tombs unearthed in the Hungarian adventure sites purse plates. 24. found east of the Carpathians, Hungarian and Hungarian character of graves and cemeteries.

Comparison of the climate curves from the individual pollen sequences revealed several general climate trends both in the Upper Pleniglacial, Late Glacial and in the Holocene. According to these, in the Carpathian Basin two warm phases were detected within the period of maximal glacial extent, between c. 23-21K and 18-20K cal. yr. BP. All of the Dryas (I-III) reversals were evinced, however, their expression especially in the alluvial oxbow deposits of the Great Hungarian Plain is flattened. The early Holocene (between c. 11200 – 9000 cal. yr. BP) is characterised by summer temperature maxima and the coldest winter temperatures all over the Holocene. In the pollen records two early Holocene cold phases were detected in many of the examined sequences and these were dated to: c. 9050-9570 cal. BP, c. 7850-8250 cal. BP.

Timing of the Subboreal temperature decline and precipitation increase is diffused, ranged between c. 5500-4000 cal. yr. BP. Palaeoclimate proxies from existing malacological data were also calculated using the malacothermomether method of Sümegi. Since Loess accumulation in the Carpathian basin ceased in the Late Glacial, only the Upper Pleniglacial and Late Glacial are represented by our data. In comparison with the pollen-derived proxies, the Mollusc curves exhibit higher mean summer temperatures and less fluctuation, but they also show the Upper Pleniglacial warm periods determined by the pollen-derived palaeoclimate curves.

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