Steppe theory

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The steppe theory was a central theory of the older settlement geography research. It said that the old settlements , which humans first settled in the middle latitudes at the beginning of the Neolithic Age , were a steppe heath and therefore forest-free landscape that did not have to be cleared for settlement. The theory, which goes back to the geographer Robert Gradmann , was the starting point of many settlement archeological studies. So grabbed Ernst Wahle in the 1920s, the theory and presented one of the early archaeological work that the human-environment relationship themed. Archaeobotanical research z. B. von Reinhold Tüxen and Karl Bertsch have refuted the theory since the 1920s.


According to Gradmann's hypothesis, the early rural settlements in Central Europe - during the younger Neolithic, between 5500 and 1800 BC. BC - for example by the band ceramists mainly in climatically favorable geographical locations with light soils or in river meadows. He deduced this from his observations that there is often a spatial proximity of ceramic settlement sites and forest-free dry grasslands. This led him to the assumption that Central Europe was not completely forested, but that, in addition to forest areas or floodplains, there were also steppe landscapes overgrown with bushes, which would have been preferred by the Neolithic farmers.

Gradmann defined the steppe heath analogously to the vegetation complexes of the Swabian Alb . A steppe heather is created where a thin layer of fine soil has accumulated on the rock and dry grass , heat-loving perennial fringes, bushes or dry forests develop. In many places, however, this landscape is favored by grazing and is therefore often more of a cultural than a natural landscape .


  • Robert Gradmann : The steppe theory. In: Geographical Journal. Vol. 39, H. 5, 1933, ISSN  0016-7479 , pp. 265-278.
  • Speier, M. (2006): Short-term-long-term dynamics of steppe and semi-desert regions of East Asia. Reports of the Reinhold-Tüxen-Gesellschaft 14, pp. 17–31.
  • Reinhold Tüxen : The basics of primeval landscape research. A contribution to the study of the history of the anthropogenic influence on the vegetation of Central Europe. In: Lower Saxony Yearbook for State History. Vol. 8, 1931, ISSN  0078-0561 , pp. 59-105, online (PDF; 57.8 MB) .
  • Vera, FWM (2000): Grazing Ecology and Forest History. CABI Publishers, New York, USA.

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