Excavation at Swedish Site Indicate Humans May Have Used Fertilizers 5,000 Years Ago

Posted on April 26, 2013

Karleby Dig Site


Researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have spent many years studying the remains of a Stone Age community in Karleby, which is located outside the town of Falkoping, Sweden. The researchers have found evidence that may indicate fertilizers were used at the site 5,000 years ago.

Using remains of grains and other plants and advanced analysis techniques, the two researchers and archaeologists Tony Axelsson and Karl-Goran Sjogren have been able to identify parts of the diet of their Stone Age ancestors. Pieces of bones from cattle, pigs and sheep have also been found at the site.

The results of the first grain analysis determined that both barley and wheat were farmed at the site. The analysis also indicates elevated levels of the isotope N15 (nitrogen 15). The elevated levels may indicate that fertilizers were used in the area of Karleby already 5,000 years ago.

Axelsson said in a statement, "We will continue our analyses both in the field and in the lab, and are hoping to find more macrofossils. Hopefully we'll find some weed seeds, as they may help confirm that fertilisers were indeed used since the type of weeds found in a field can signal whether fertilisers or some other method was used."

Photo: University of Gothenburg