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Portal into a Timeless World

Article

Cultural landscape

10. 1. 2014

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Settlements

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Hungary

At the time the Hungarians came into the Carpathian-basin (in the 9th and 10th century), the land has still preserved its original, pristine state: the settlement area was characterised by wooded steppe on the Great Plain and oak forests in the hillsides. Transformation of the native landscape was initially represented mainly by deforestation: primarily land for farming was eked out this way in the 10-15th centuries, and timber was felled for early mining operations and industrial activities.

During the Ottoman military campaigns forested land was diminished due to the construction of fortresses, in the 17-18th centuries the cause was pearl ash production, mining and an increasing number of the population.

In the area of the original wooded steppe in the plains forests disappeared additionally for reasons such as war, and the massive livestock husbandry practices here and the characteristic form of the Hungarian landscape, “puszta” appeared.

The last major phase of landscape transformation was the control of the main rivers in the Carpathian-basin (Danube, Tisza, Körös, Bodrog etc.) in the 19th and 20th centuries, through which the size of land suited for farming grew but microclimate and water regime in the soil were impaired.

Beside fruit trees and vines honey locust, a tree species of American origin was used to tie up the drying land infested with quicksand, and the plant has become the predominant typical tree in the Great Plain by the 20th century.

During the Medieval and the early Modern Age land was cropped in two and three course rotation, but the farm plots around villages were consolidated and redistributed in the 19th century, thus tiny parcels were created in many places which were, in turn, consolidated into large blocks of land in the mid-20th century during the collectivisation efforts.

The Hungarian language area was characterised in the 19th century already by field cropping in the Great Plain, the Small Plain and the lower lying hilly regions, which was supplemented by viticulture and horticulture, only certain higher lying parts were characterised by a larger proportion of pasturing livestock keeping and forest management like Székelyföld and Gyimes.

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