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The Middle and Late Holocene in Central European Russia
Novenko, E.Yu., Volkova, E.M., Glasko, M.P. and Zuganova, I.S. 2012. Palaeoecological evidence for the middle and late Holocene vegetation, climate and land use in the upper Don River basin (Russia). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 21: 337-352.

The authors write that "during the last 30 years, archaeological and palaeogeographical studies were undertaken in the central area of the East European Plain which includes the upper Don River and its tributary, the Nepryadva River," citing as examples of this work the studies of Folomeev et al. (1990), Khotinsky (1993), Glasko et al. (2000), Gonyanyi et al. (2007) and Novenko et al. (2009) and reporting that these multidisciplinary efforts, as they describe them, "focused initially on the reconstruction of natural landscapes at the time of the Kulikovo battle of 1380 (in which the Russians defeated the Tartar-Mongol forces)."

What was done
In their current paper, Novenko et al. (2012) discuss "new pollen and plant macrofossil evidence, backed by radiocarbon dates, resulting from the study of the key section 'berezovskoye mire' within the Kulikovo battlefield area, as well as the reconstruction of landscape and climate for the time span ranging from the mid-Atlantic period [7.2-5.7 cal. kyr B.P.] to the present."

What was learned
The four Russian researchers report that temperatures during the mid-Atlantic period "were warmer than the present, mainly due to the higher winter temperatures," while noting that mean January temperatures were "about 3-5°C higher than the present climatic conditions." They also state that in the late Atlantic period, "the mean July and the mean annual temperatures rose to about 2°C higher than the present," after which, in the middle and late Subboreal period, they indicate that summer temperatures were "about 1-3°C higher than present values," while noting that that period's "mean annual temperatures could have been 1-2°C higher."

What it means
It seems that the more one studies palaeoclimates in various places around the world, the more one begins to appreciate the fact that there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about our planet's current level of warmth, especially when it is realized that at these earlier times there was much less CO2 in the air than there is nowadays.

Folomeev, B.A., Aleksandrovsky, A.L., Glasko, M.P., Gonyanyi, M.I. and Guman, M.A. 1990. Ancient settlements and environment in the mouth part of the Nepryavda river. In: Zaitzev, A.K. (Ed.) Kulikovo Battlefield: Materials of Investigation. State Historical Museum Press, Moscow, Russia, pp. 10-53.

Glasko, M.P., Markova, A.K. and Sycheva, A.A. 2000. Landscapes of the Kulikovo battlefield. In Zaitzev, A.K. (Ed.) Kulikovo Battlefield: Materials of Investigation. State Historical Museum Press, Moscow, Russia, pp. 351-361.

Gonyanyi, M.A., Aleksandrovskii, A.L. and Glasko, M.P. 2007. Northern Forest-Steppe of the Upper Don River Basin at the Time of the Kulikovo Battle. State Historical Museum Press, Moscow, Russia.

Khotinsky, N.A. 1993. Anthropogenic changes in the landscapes of the Russian Plain during the Holocene. Grana Supplement 2: 70-74.

Novenko, E.Yu., Glasko, M.P. and Burova, O.V. 2009. Landscape-and-climate dynamics and land use in the Late Holocene forest-steppe ecotone of the East European Plain (upper Don River Basin case study). Quaternary International 203: 113-119.

Reviewed 6 February 2013