Résumé : During the excavations of the site of rue de Dinant in the historic centre of Brussels (Belgium), remains of the first city wall dating from the 13th century have been discovered. Intra muros thick dark sediment units predating this wall are observed. These dark units are among the oldest occupation traces so far encountered in this higher, eastern, part of the historic centre of Brussels. In order to characterise them, and to understand the human activities and natural processes behind their formation, an interdisciplinary research, integrating archaeopedology and phytolith study, has been undertaken. This approach permitted us to identify a range of natural and cultural processes leading to the formation of these dark layers, and to characterise different activities. Remains of a hearth, old plough land (cropfields) and grassland have been identified, all activities referring to a rural landscape organisation. Later on, the area changes into an enormous silt extraction area, whereby Dark Earth is thrown into the dug pits. Finally, the construction of the first city wall marks the area as becoming part of the city. The study of Dark Earth shows to be a potentially valuable tool to shed light on the development and spatial organisation of pre-urban Brussels, a historically very poorly documented period.