Finding Mesolithic Sites: A Multichannel Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) Investigation at the Ancient Lake Duvensee

Erica Corradini, Daniel Gross, Tina Wunderlich, Harald Lübke, Dennis Wilken, Ercan Erkul, Ulrich Schmölcke, Wolfgang Rabbel

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The shift to the early Holocene in northern Europe is strongly associated with major environmental and climatic changes that influenced hunter-gatherers’ activities and occupation during the Mesolithic period. The ancient lake Duvensee (10,000–6500 cal. BCE) has been studied for almost a century, providing archaeological sites consisting of bark mats and hazelnut-roasting hearths situated on small sand banks deposited by the glacier. No method is yet available to locate these features before excavation. Therefore, a key method for understanding the living conditions of hunter-gatherer groups is to reconstruct the paleoenvironment with a focus on the identification of areas that could possibly host Mesolithic camps and well-preserved archaeological artefacts. We performed a 16-channel MALÅ Imaging Radar Array (MIRA) system survey aimed at understanding the landscape surrounding the find spot Duvensee WP10, located in a hitherto uninvestigated part of the bog. Using an integrated approach of high-resolution ground radar mapping and targeted excavations enabled us to derive a 3D spatio-temporal landscape reconstruction of the investigated sector, including paleo-bathymetry, stratigraphy, and shorelines around the Mesolithic camps. Additionally, we detected previously unknown islands as potential areas for yet unknown dwelling sites. We found that the growth rates of the islands were in the order of approximately 0.3 m2/yr to 0.7 m2/yr between the late Preboreal and the Subboreal stages. The ground-penetrating radar surveying performed excellently in all aspects of near-surface landscape reconstruction as well as in identifying potential dwellings; however, the direct identification of small-scale artefacts, such as fireplaces, was not successful because of their similarity to natural structures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number781
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number3
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2022


  • fireplace
  • 3D reconstruction
  • settlement archaeology
  • remote sensing
  • hunter-gatherers

Cite this