GIAP participates in the 27th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA 2021)

A year ago, ‘Widening Horizons’ was decided on as the motto of the 27th EAA Annual Meeting, as it combined the ‘sense of place’ of Kiel and its position in Europe, with the orientation of its university and the Johanna Mestorf Academy (the host organizer of the 2021 AM) and our shared ambition to think, speak about and act widely on environmental sustainability and climate change.

One year after, ‘widening horizons’, as any good motto, has developed new and pertinent meanings. It is hard not to imagine that our unsustainable resource use of the Earth has in some way caused the current rampant world pandemic. We will need intellectual, political, and cultural horizons wide open to re-establish the balance of global society with its environment.

The meeting will take place from the 6th to the 11th September 2021. GIAP researchers will be contributing to different sessions (click here to check all ICAC researcher’s contributions):

September 7th

[Session 513] Producing power: exploring the relationship between production and socio-economic change in the mediterranean from the chalcolithic to the Iron Age.

(12:15h CEST) Resilience and livestock adaptations to demographic growth and technological change: a diachronic perspective from the first millennium in NE Iberia.

Abstract author(s): Valenzuela-Lamas, Silvia – Nieto-Espinet, Ariadna (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas – IMF) – Huet, Thomas (independent) – Trentacoste, Angela (University of Oxford – School of Archaeology) – Guimarães, Silvia (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas – IMF) – Orengo, Hector (Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica – ICAC) 

Economic systems are closely related to their ecological context, and livestock has been an integral part of human economies since the Neolithic, significantly contributing to the creation and maintenance of agricultural anthropized landscapes. 

In the frame of the ERC-StG project ‘ZooMWest’ we collected and analysed thousands of zooarchaeological data from NE Iberia (>90,000 NISP). By considering these data in comparison with ecological indicators and archaeological evidence (settlement char- acteristics and their distribution) we will present changes in animal production and the relationship between people, livestock, and their environment during the first millennium BC. 

Results show a shifting relationship with the territory from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, when the expansion of iron technology and the Mediterranean trade led to significant changes in production and society. The zooarchaeological results demonstrate a significant impact of socio-economic system over animal husbandry, shaping the frequencies of species and the size of the animals, and a smaller influence of the local environment as the technological capacity of humans increased. 

September 8th

[Session 277] Living in the Mountains: Settlement Strategies from the Beginning of the Holocene to Modern Times in Southern Europe. Part 1 

(9.15 h CEST) Integrated landscape research in Ter high mountain valleys (Eastern Pyrenees, Spain): Livestock, settlement dynamics, and land-use in a long-term perspective.

Abstract author(s): Palet, Josep Maria – Pescini, Valentina – Colominas, Lídia – Garcia-Molsosa, Arnau – Euba, Itxaso (Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology. Landscape Archaeology Research Group – GIAP-ICAC) 

Since 2010, an integrated archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research programme has been developed in theTer High Mountain Valleys (Eastern Pyrenees), with the aim of studying the long-term landscape shaping of these Mediterranean high-mountain environments. This programme integrated archaeological extensive survey, GIS, excavation and radiocarbon dating of archaeological structures, palaeoenvironmental research, as well as archaeobiological and micromorphological analysis. 

Settlements dynamics discontinuities, since the Middle Neolithic-Late Neolithic transition (~3600 cal BC) until modern and contem- porary periods, will be characterized together with changes in landscape and in environmental resources management practices. 

Results allow drawing a densely exploited landscape, and showing the deep and ancient occupation activities shaping the Pyrenean high mountain spaces. Some of the analysed sites will be discussed. Open-air Neolithic settlements show a strong presence of al- pine and subalpine vegetation communities (mountain pine, birch, willow) while an increase in juniper has been highlighted in sites of Roman times and Early Middle Ages. Actually, Antiquity reports an important period in livestock expansion, with an especial intensity from the 2nd – 3rd centuries and during Late Antiquity. Settlement dynamics show a new expansion from the Early Middle Ages (9th 10th c.), with the reuse of roman structures and the construction of new ones clearly more specialized (cheese production). The importance of livestock management practices (including fire-driven forest openings and grazing activities) together with forest exploitation in these areas especially during medieval and post-medieval periods are among the main causes of the timberline lowering. Finally, archaeological data attest a new phase of pastoralism expansion from the 14th-15th c. to modern and contemporary periods.

(9.30 h CEST) Archaeological survey in a high-mountain environment: Livestock settlements, land-use and landscape dynamics in Puigpedrós massif and Duran Valley (Eastern Pyrenees, Spain).

Abstract author(s): Carbonell, Arnau – Palet, Josep – Colominas, Lídia – Martínez, Jesús – Pescini, Valentina – Gallego-Valle, Abel – Aliende, Paloma (Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology. Landscape Archaelogy Research Group – ICAC-GIAP) 

Since 2018, GIAP-ICAC has been carrying out an archaeological survey in high-altitude areas in the Puigpedrós mountain range, at the high Segre valley in La Cerdanya (Catalonia). The survey has been guided by previous photointerpretation work in order to carry out a pre-inventory of archaeological structures. A total of 119 structures grouped in a total of 20 sites have been documented. Until now, the research has comprised the excavation of test pits in a total of 5 sites and 16 structures located between 2300 and 2500m. The sites are areas of livestock occupation, dry-stone huts, and enclosures, but also settlements surrounded by dry stone walls, with differentiated occupation phases. The survey has provided an accurate inventory of archaeological structures and has made it possible to study their functionality and chronology, essential features in order to characterize occupation dynamics and land-use in these high mountain areas. The results show a very important occupation sequence with a structurally very important first phase during the late Neolithic, a second period at the beginning of the Iron Age, very rare in High Pyrenean contexts, a Ro- man occupation, and an expansion of livestock activities in Late Antiquity. Finally, occupation during the Middle Ages (12th-14th centuries) has been also attested. The reutilization of some sites over time explains the excellent state of conservation of many structures and their high heritage value. 

September 10th

[Session 681] Mediterranean Archaeology: from Interconnected Patchworks to Overarching Inter- and Transdisciplinary Frameworks 

(11:15 h CEST). The analysis of Roman Centuriation as a mean for the interconnection of Mediterranean archaeological research through an interdisciplinary approach.

Abstract author(s): Ortega, Maria Jesús – Palet, Josep Maria – Orengo, Hèctor (Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology) 

Centuriation, the grid-based parcelling of landscapes for land distribution and field allotment, is a key evidential paradigm for tracing the Romans’ transformation of the environments they colonised in order to fit their economic and productive needs. It reflected the rational thinking of the Classical world and was also linked to urban development, so that, as described in ancient land-surveying treatises, it represented for the Romans the ideal extension of the city to the territory. Advances in research have demonstrated that centuriation’s apparent uniformity is in fact relative. Particularities within individual territories depended on chronology, cultur- al/social backgrounds, and geographical features of each territory. Also, written sources mention the existence of undivided areas within the centuriae, the integration of forests and grasslands, and the adaptation of these systems to mountain areas, natural relief and streams, fact that corresponds to modern planimetric reconstructions. The phenomenon of centuriation remains crucial for un- derstanding the Roman idea of territory and the European historical landscapes, for that centuriation has influenced their evolution until the present day. Indeed, this system may be considered the basis of many European landscapes. From the 1980’s a broad suite of approaches, techniques and methods have been used to identify and analyse many centuriations, showing them to have been a crucial element in the formation of cultural landscapes. But there is so far not a single case in which all the available approaches have been integrated holistically. This paper aims to bring out the need of a standardised methodology for the studies of centuriation by combining the different techniques and approaches used in several research projects focused on centuriated landscapes. To this end, we present a brief comparison of 4 case-studies in Mediterranean and Atlantic areas that would allow to analyze and compare how centuriation worked and evolved in different territories. 

September 11th

[Session 382] From the Field to the Computer. The Validity of Quantitative Methods Regarding the Quality of Archaeological Data 

(16:30 h CEST). Manual and automated rediscovery of small village ponds in Northwest India, and potential contributions to resilient and sustainable water management.

Abstract author(s): Green, Adam (University of Cambridge) – Garcia-Molsosa, Arnau (Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology) – Alam, Aftab (Banaras Hindu University) – Orengo, Hector (Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology) – Petrie, Cameron (Univer- sity of Cambridge) 

Archaeological data can contribute substantially to interdisciplinary debates about sustainability and resilience, and can help guide policymakers to improve resource management in the present. Agricultural water management in South Asia is particularly critical in this regard. In northwest India certain kinds of anthropogenic surface water features, such as village ponds, appear to have played an important role in the region’s deep history and can play a role in contemporary water management. These surface water features are critical in the region’s distinctive environment, which receives significant rainfall from the Indian Summer Monsoon and additional input from the winter rains. However, before these features can be integrated into policy debates, it is necessary to identify them in the landscape, as well as their associations with settlements and other landscape features. After all, to understand the potential of these and similar features to mitigate the worst effects of climate crisis, data about them must be translated into units that are pertinent to interdisciplinary research; archaeological and historical data must assembled into comparable units to contemporary data, and at scale. In this paper, we discuss the potential of historical maps and archaeological data to identify the extent of surface water in both the near and distant past. Using a combination of GIS, remote sensing, and historical analysis, we outline a new big data approach to the assembly of surface water data in northwest India. We focus in particular on the analysis of historical Survey of India maps that were prepared by British Colonial authorities nearly a century ago. We compare manual and automated methods of extraction, present a new machine-learning workflow, and explore the potential of these results to contribute to debates about resilience and sustainability in the face of a growing climate crisis. 

Check the full conference programme:


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