Impact of medieval and modern cities on lakes and landscapes – an interdisciplinary case study from southern Germany
Lakes next to prehistoric and historic urban settlements were exposed to human activities much earlier than the often-assumed natural reference conditions before 1800 AD. The direct impact and exact mechanisms, however, often remain speculative due to overlapping of climatic and anthropogenic signals as well as a lack of historical evidence. The postglacial lake Stadtsee, located beneath the medieval city of Bad Waldsee in southern Germany north of Lake Constance, offers a continuous record of mostly seasonally laminated sediments over many centuries. Precise correlation of the sedimentary signals, with numerous local historic documents allow for a detailed evaluation of human-environment interaction during the last millennium. These unique circumstances allow our interdisciplinary research team including natural scientists and historians, to assess the environmental impact of socio-economic development for the preindustrial phase from 1200 to 1800 AD. Focus is laid on crises of this evolution by plagues and wars, but also local events such as city fires. In particular, the Thirty Years War 1618-1648 gives interesting insight into the impact and recovery of aquatic and agricultural systems under changing human impact.