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The ‘Oldenburger Graben’ is an extended wetland area in Northern Germany with a rich archaeological heritage. Several settlements from Late Mesolithic to Late Neolithic were found along the former shore in elevations under the recent sea-level. Environmental reconstructions around the Middle Neolithic settlement site Oldenburg-Dannau LA77 enabled for a detailed reconstruction of the sea level development and the according environmental transformations. The general increase from values of -4 m at around 5500 cal BC to -2.5 m at around 3000 cal BC is described as a process of stagnation and transgression with strong influence on living conditions in the lowland area. A lake- and peat-landscape was drowned by the rising sea level and underwent a transformation into a marine environment. By the time the coastal erosion resulted in a damming of the former bay and a brackish lagoon lake developed that succeeded towards a freshwater system. The Middle Neolithic settlement of Dannau LA 77could be linked to a brackish-marine transgression phase. From c. 3500 until 2900 cal BC the results indicate local settlement activities including cereal cultivation with a short phase of reduced activities at around c. 3200 cal BC. During this time of occupation, the sandy elevation was still connected to the mainland. After c. 2900 cal BC the site became an island, the time when the local inhabitation ceased.
The comparison with other investigated sites in the Oldenburger Graben region shows a stepwise Neolithisation process with indications for single domestic animals occurring already in the Late Mesolithic and a transition to animal husbandry around 4100 cal BC, the beginning of the Early Neolithic (EN) Ia. Single Cereal-Type pollen grains also occur already during the Ertebølle-time but arable farming did not contribute substantially to the nutrition before c. 3800 cal BC, i.e. the EN Ib. Thus, the transformation of the subsistence economy was a stepwise process what supports the idea of an autochthonous Neolithisation process.