Information on the vegetation and landscape history of a region is often limited, and available data are hard to interprete. A concept is presented here on how a more comprehensive picture of the structure and development of landscapes and vegetations of the past can be gained by integrating the information of several disciplines. Archaeological field methods have been combined with methods used in landscape studies (geology, soil science, micromorphology) and vegetation studies (ecology, palynology and dendrochronology).
This concept has been applied and tested during an integrated study of a buried woodland at Zwolle-Stadshagen (Province of Overijssel, the Netherlands). Many large wood remnants were found in a peat layer preserved below a thick clay deposit. The wood remnants were dated by using dendrochronology to the period between ca. 150 BC and AD 580 (ca. 2200 - 1400 cal. BP). Two phases could be distinguished in the development of the peat. The woodland consisted of a closed stand with ash, alder and oak as main species, in the first phase mostly resembling an alder carr, and in the second one the near-extinct Filipendulo-Alnetum Passage et Hofmann 1968. No evidence of exploitation of the woodland by man nor of animal foraging was found.
The followed integrated procedure has led to a more substantiated reconstruction of the palaeo-environment with its wetland wood, but also of the influence of human activities on the palaeo-landscape and its woodlands, that could not have been obtained otherwise.