Farming in the forest

Ecology and economy of fire in prehistoric agriculture

3rd International Schöntal Conference, 11-15 July 2012, Kloster Schöntal, Germany

//Call for Papers//


The use of fire has been discussed as a means of forest clearance since the early years of research on the European Neolithic. The technique of slash-and-burn had been postulated by J. Iversen as initial phase in his “Landnam” model, also for Neolithic Britain the frequent use of fire for forest clearing and cultivation has been widely assumed. In 1965 E. Boserup described extensive swidden cultivation that was 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 preindustrial 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 lectures and posters on charcoal and black carbon in soils, vegetation recovering after fire and historical/ethnographical evidence for fire based agriculture. For the conference program please visit our website at:


The venue of the conference is the picturesque Schöntal Abbey (Baden-Württemberg), located between Stuttgart and Würzburg, accessible by plane (Frankfurt/Main, Stuttgart) and train transfer. Local shuttle service to and from nearby train stations will be provided. During the conference an excursion to the experimental site near Forchtenberg (10 km distance from Schöntal) will be organized.

Registration and fees

Please register by email to:, providing your name, institution and title of your paper or poster. The conference fee will be € 50 until 31 March 2012, thereafter € 80. Accommodation will be provided at Kloster Schöntal (€ 68,50 in double, € 78,50 in single room per night, full board). Your accommodation will be booked by the organisers, so please specify your required type of room and duration of stay.

Submission of papers, posters and abstracts

Please announce the precise title of your paper or poster until 15 March 2012. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 31st March 2012. Posters should be submitted in size A1, printed on good quality paper. It is intended to publish the conference proceedings as special issue of Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

Organisers of the conference

Wolfram Schier, Institut für Prähistorische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin Manfred Rösch, Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart Renate Gerlach, Landschaftsverband Rheinland, Bonn Eileen Eckmeier, Universität Bonn Matthias Hall, Landesforstverwaltung Baden-Württemberg Otto Ehrmann and Birgit Kury, Creglingen

Institut für Prähistorische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Altensteinstrasse 15, D-14195 Berlin; phone ++49 (0)30 838 54254; fax ++49 (0)30 838 55873


farming_in_the_forest_conference.txt · Last modified: 2015/06/23 17:22 (external edit)
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