A medieval settlement caught in the sand: Optical dating of sand-drifting at Pulle (N. Belgium)

TitelA medieval settlement caught in the sand: Optical dating of sand-drifting at Pulle (N. Belgium)
AuteursDerese, C, Vandenberghe, D, Eggermont, N, Bastiaens, J, Annaert, R, Van Den Haute, P
Titel van het tijdschriftQuaternary Geochronology
Volume of jaargang5
Begin en eindpagina's336-341
ISSN Nummer1871-1014

Close to the village of Pulle (N Belgium), six trenches were opened for archaeological research. This resulted in the discovery of a dense spread of traces of human settlement. Only a relatively small number of artefacts was found, but these allowed attributing the traces to habitation during the Iron Age and Early Middle Ages. In one of the trenches, the level with the archaeological finds was covered by a drift-sand dune. The accumulation of these aeolian sediments presumably put an end to the human occupation. Hence, dating these sediments might provide essential information as to the chronology of the occupational history of the site.

Quartz-based optical dating was applied to constrain the timing of sand-drifting at Pulle. All samples showed satisfactory luminescence characteristics and yielded an internally consistent set of optical ages. Within analytical uncertainty, the age results show no increase with depth and do not allow differentiating between distinct phases of sand-drifting. An average age of 1.2 ± 0.1 ka was obtained, which is interpreted as an upper age limit for human occupation at the site. The results also illustrate (the limit on) the time resolution that can be achieved through conventional quartz single-aliquot optical dating techniques; considering these limitations, we conclude that the sand-drifting at Pulle occurred during a single, fairly short event in the Early Middle Ages.

Citation KeyDerese:2010aa