CIAMS Lecture Series – Arnau Garcia

 

Abstract:

This presentation will discuss a group of study cases carried on during the last years in the upper parts of different mountain ranges in the North-East of the Iberian Peninsula. The works discussed are part of integrated studies in which archaeological, historical and ethnographic data, together with palaeoenvironmental researches have been used to analyse the relationships between landscape systems and human land-use strategies on mountains from a long-term perspective. The archaeological research in those environments is characterized by the specific geographic conditions and the particularities of past human economic activities and settlement patterns.

An overview on the results shows that about 1000 anthropogenic structures have been detected and classified in upper-mountain areas in the study areas. More than a hundred of them have been excavated and near 150 C14 dates have been conducted. Together, they represent a large chronological framework, from Early Neolithic to Modern times. Most of the structures are related to pastoral activities (huts, enclosures), but other activities regarding forestry and mineral exploitation are also documented. In this sense, the research shows that pastoralism has played a decisive role in the human shaping of mountain Cultural Landscapes in the studied areas. Anthropogenic deforestation episodes related to the creation and maintenance of pastoral grasslands, have been documented from the Neolithic onwards. The studies give also some clues on how important historical processes of social change, such as that of Romanization or the formation of feudal societies, have had a deep impact in mountain landscapes. The setting up of specialized economic activities has been punctually documented for those periods, proving that these were intimately linked to the historical processes documented at lower altitudes.