What is TerrACE?

Agricultural terraces and lynchets (terraces without stone walls) are both historical landscapes and hotspots of environmental fragility. Most complex societies used, or even relied on hillslope terracing, and ¨TERRace Archaeology and Culture in Europe,¨ or TerrACE, is the first project to systematically study the origins and environmental role of these agricultural terraces by bringing together landscape archaeology, geomorphology and palaeoecology. The major questions about terracing are:

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1. When and under what social & environmental conditions did the agricultural terraces develop?

2. How did terracing survive, were they in constant use, or frequently abandoned and reconstructed?

3. How was fertility maintained, what was the balance of erosion and soil production and how does this relate to the ancient literature on manuring and agronomy?

4. What implications do these terraces have for both European soil erosion trends and contemporary and future carbon sequestration through maintenance and abandonment?

The research conducted by the TerrACE team will produce a description of the extent, age, use-history and carbon storage of any terrace system. This will include; an estimate of terrace initiation (1st generation construction), subsequent history (2nd… generation etc.), most likely crops, management, soil production and erosion rates and SOC storage. This data will then be contextualised by physical factors (slope, rainfall, lithology) and social factors including the archaeological evidence, estimates of population density and social complexity as outlined in Leveau et al. (1999).

The general objectives of TerrACE are to...

Improve...

...the mapping of terraced landscapes in Europe (LiDAR and TLS)

Develop…

...terrace chronologies and dating methodologies using sediment dating (OSL and cosmogenic isotopes)

Identify...

...past crops, biodiversity & management (phytoliths and aDNA)

Investigate...

...agricultural terraces as carbon sinks and sources

Promote...

...terraces as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Sites