The Plot: a chronology

Saalian Glaciation. 240.000 – 128.000 ya.

In this era, temperatures fluctuated between relatively warm periods and full-blown ice ages. Scandinavian glaciers reached the current city of Nijmegen, changing the course of river Maas from North to West, and depositing sand and debris which now make up the push morene hills of the Lower Rhine Heights.

I partly grew up in this bend of the Maas, looking over the hills across the river.

The Plot was tundra: frozen solid in winter and overgrown with bits and pieces of moss and grass in summer.

Maybe the ice cap was visible in the distance.

70 Kilometers to the South, Neanderthal remnants from the era have been found.


Eemian. 130.000 – 115.000 ya.

Also known as Sangamonian Stage, Ipswichian, Mikulin, Kaydaky, penultimate, Valdivia, or Riss-Würm, Eemian was the last interglacial period. Compared to the mean Northern Hemisphere temperature of the last centuries, the temperatures at its optimum were a couple of degrees higher.

At first, The Plot was part of sandy hills and shallow valleys, but as temperatures rose, more and more vegetation popped up.

The Plot became a dense, old-growth forest with oaks and other deciduous trees, until the region started to cool off again.

From this period, there are much more Neanderthal finds in the wider Eurasian area. Modern humans were still nowhere near The Plot.


Weichselian glaciation. 115.000 – 11.700 ya.

Once again, the ice grew from the North, though it never reached as far as it did during the Saalian glaciation. The forests disappeared and got replaced with vast tundras. Temperatures weren’t constantly low, but alternated between colder and relatively mild periods.

The end of this ice age marks the start of the geological epoch of the Holocene.

The  /ˈhɒl. ˌsiːn,  ˈhɒl.oʊ-, ˈhoʊ.lə-, ˈhoʊ.loʊ-/HOL-ə-seen, HOL-oh-, HOH-lə-, HOH-loh- Holocene is associated with the rise of the homo sapiens. That’s us.

During the Weichselian glaciation, The Plot would shift between steppe, swamp, and reforestation with pine and birch trees.

From about 10.000 years ago, people were living near – within a 100km range – The Plot, according to some sparse archaeological finds.

Of course, in other parts of Europe we were decorating caves like there was no tomorrow.

The nearest caves to The Plot are Kluterthöhle in Germany, and the caves of Remouchamps in Belgium, at about 130km due East and due South respectively. Both caves are devoid of paintings.

It would take over a month to walk from The Plot to the Lascaux caves.

The Plot, meanwhile, would be crawled with grazing mammoth.


Mesolithic. 15.000 to 5.000 ya.

After the ice made it last retreat, a lot of important things happened, one of which is the extinction of large mammals such as Mammuthus primigenius, Smilodon, and Megaloceros giganteus.

Another is the simultaneous reforestation and deforestation of post-ice-age landscapes. With rising temperatures, more grew. People, at first hunting and gathering, and later, hesitantly, doing some agriculturing, started to have a significant influence on ecology.