Living mountains: latest surveys in the eastern Pyrenees

Archaeological team working in the area of Aparellats (Meranges), where we were able to document a possible phase of occupation related to a circular structure (2500 meters above sea level). Photo: Arnau Carbonell-Puigventós).

Since 2018, the archaeological works in the eastern Pyrenees have been centered in the Meranges area (Catalonia), in order to complete the archaeological map of the whole sector. To achieve this, we have been studying the area of ​​the Puigpedrós massif and the headwaters of the Duran River working in a multi-scale environment, from photointerpretation to fieldwork, helping us to understand the socio-environmental interactions in these cultural landscapes.

This year, we have extended the survey to the west, towards the municipality of Lles de la Cerdanya (through Vall de la Llosa and Vallcivera), and to the east, towards the municipality of Ger and Guils de la Cerdanya. For now, the western part has only been prospected via photointerpretation. 

Archaeological structures documented from 2018 to 2021 during survey works in the Meranges and Lles de la Cerdanya area. Map: Arnau Carbonell-Puigventós

During this year’s campaign, we conducted a paleoenvironmental study through an altitude transcript with 6 test pits (between 2200 and 2750 meters above sea level). The archaeological work has been focused on three different sites: Pleta dels MoltonsPla de Sallent, and the circular structure of Aparellats (Meranges, Catalonia). With a total of 9 test pits, it has been possible to recover archaeological remains that, together with the coal collected, will make it possible to delimit the chronology and the occupation phases of the studied structures. We are currently traversing through two valleys within the survey work, which are the Vall de la Llosa and Vallcivera.

(Alfredo Mayoral and Valentina Pescini) Our paleoenvironmental team working in a test pit obtaining samples for the study of pollen, coals and soil micromorphology. 
Survey work: closed for livestock use with views to the south of the valley (Vall de la Llosa, Lles de la Cerdanya). Photo: Arnau Carbonell-Puigventós

The survey will be used to obtain an archaeological map of the whole sector, which associated with the areas previously studied by the GIAP (Vall de Núria-Coma de Vaca, Serra del Cadí, and Perafita-Madriu-Claror valleys (Andorra), will allow the archaeological characterisation of the high mountain area of the axial Pyrenees, its occupation and exploitation from a diachronic perspective, in order to be able to approach the economic and social understanding that these spaces had throughout time. These data will be used to plan future work, specifying areas of archaeological interest or as heritage assessors of these mountain areas.

Survey work: Habitational structures, probably related to the forge workers in the middle of the valley (Vall de la Llosa, Lles de la Cerdanya). Photo: Arnau Carbonell-Puigventós
Survey work: Rests of iron slag product of the Catalan forge of the eighteenth century in this valley (Vall de la Llosa, Lles de la Cerdanya). Photo: Arnau Carbonell-Puigventós
Survey work: Shelter (unknown chronology). Probably with a modern amortization (Vallcivera, Lles de la Cerdanya). Photo: Arnau Carbonell-Puigventós
Survey work: Set of closed related to modern livestock activities in the valley (Vallcivera, Lles de la Cerdanya).  Photo: Arnau Carbonell-Puigventós
Survey work: In front: a shepherd’s hut // Center: herd of cows related to current livestock activities // Background: Contemporary refuge (Cabana dels Esparvers, Vall de la Llosa, Lles de la Cerdanya). Photo: Arnau Carbonell-Puigventós
Survey work: A possible shepherd hut with a quadrangular structure (unknown chronology), with views into the valley (Vallcivera, Lles de la Cerdanya). Photo: Arnau Carbonell-Puigventós

Funded by:

  • TransLands. Transported Mediterranean landscapes: an integrated analysis of long-term land-use dynamics at both sides of the Mediterranean (2019-2021)
    Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, PGC2018-093734-B-I00
  • Arqueologia dels paisatges culturals de muntanya a les capçaleres del Ter i del Segre (Ripollès-Cerdanya). (Projecte Quadriennal. Generalitat de Catalunya. CLT009/18/00101)

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