Originally published 03/25/2013
A medieval monastery in Belgium went to major effort to drain wetlands on its land, building structures on artificially raised soil, a new study finds.Archaeologists excavated the Boudelo Abbey, once part of the medieval county of Flanders, in the 1970s. Until now, however, they had no idea that an extensive drained wetland surrounded the site. "They placed these abbeys in all sorts of marginal areas to cultivate," said study researcher Philippe De Smedt, a soil scientist at Ghent University in Belgium. In the High Middle Ages between the 12th and 14th centuries, Europe's population was growing, De Smedt told LiveScience. Monk labor provided a solution to the crowding by making the land livable....