Climate change and river history – man on the Danube islands in Hungary
The interrelationship between man and the environment in different historic periods on the Danube islands was studied using data of archaeological sites. The study investigates the variability of fluvial dynamics affected by the Holocene climate changes and human impacts. The 250 km long river section between the cities Komárom and Paks was considered. It includes two big islands (Szentendre and Csepel Islands) and more than 50 smaller or formerly existing islands. On the islands 570 archaeological sites at 334 locations are known.
The study of the smaller and lower lying islands in large rivers offers a new, less applied aspect of fluvial dynamics. The islands react sensitively to environmental changes; extreme floods can inundate their entire surface. Whether an island is suitable for human inhabitation is set by the flood risk (magnitude, length and frequency of high and low floods) of the site. The history of the islands intertwines with human history. Traces of human inhabitation and land use from Neolithic times can be found on their surfaces, despite the fact that they have always been limitedly suitable for inhabitation due to the floods. Yet they were repeatedly inhabited or used in the past, therefore historical data are readily available.
There is a clear correlation between the climatic periods and the frequency of the sites. Our research concluded that the most favourable periods for settling are the transitions from humid to dry climate and the less favourable periods are the transitions from dry to humid climate.