The history of the Moscow River was reconstructed from bottom sediments

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The history of the Moscow River was reconstructed from bottom sediments

People began to influence the nature around the Moscow River about two and a half thousand years ago.

Moskva River in Odintsovo district. (Photo: Δημήτριος / Wikipedia) Moskva River basin. (Illustration: SafronovAV / Wikipedia) ‹ › Open full size

In Moscow and its environs, archaeologists have always found many artifacts of the Bronze and Iron Ages. But although the artifacts said a lot about life, archaeologists and historians lacked information to reconstruct the picture of the early development of the territory. The study of soils washed by the river over several thousand years helped to clarify new details.

The Moscow River occupied its current course about 12 thousand years ago. Since that time, the river has repeatedly flooded widely. During floods, the layers of soil accumulated over hundreds and thousands of years were covered with river silt and sand. Separated from each other and preserved layers turned out to be very valuable witnesses of how nature changed around the riverbed. With their help, Alexander Alexandrovsky, Ekaterina Ershova and their colleagues from the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University, the University of Ottawa and the Institute of Environmental Geochemistry (Ukraine) restored the chronology of the development of territories around the Moscow River.

In total, experts counted seven thick layers of soil, which, like a layer cake, alternated with river sediments. Excavations were carried out at several points, and, in particular, archaeologists discovered one of the layers on the territory of the Kremlin. The radiocarbon method helped estimate the age of the layers (the oldest layers contain less radioactive isotope 14C). The researchers assessed whether the layer contained pollen, coals or wood. It was possible to establish, for example, that the first spruce forests began to appear around the riverbed about five thousand years ago. In the early layers, only meadow grass pollen is found. And the coals found in the layers indicate that approximately two and a half thousand years ago people began to have a noticeable impact on the nature around the river. Forests were burned out from time to time, and pastures took their place. Plant seeds suitable for grazing were found in the soil of that period. And about 800 years ago, floods began to occur more often, and also because of people, the authors explain in a collection of publications. The destruction of the forests was followed by a period of floods, as researchers believe, due to the new pastures, the river level rose sharply during the melting of snow and precipitation.

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