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France

Bramefan, Aix-en-Provence, France:

Iron Age-Post Medieval

Steep Terrace

West Mediterranean

Bramefan, on the slopes of Sainte Victoire, is an ideal study area for this project. Its demonstrated complex settlement history, combined with its proximity to major urban centres (Aix-en-Provence and Marseille), means that this landscape has been subject to complex forms of exploitation and management since the prehistoric periods. The most complex forms of landscape management and exploitation have their origins in the Iron Age. This landscape subsequently witnessed important fluctuation of activity during the Roman periods through to the post-Medieval period. The Middle and Late Iron Ages saw an important increase in settlement activity. Geoarchaeological and geomorphological research across the area has revealed phases of erosion in the Middle Iron Age, as well as the Late and post- Roman periods.

 

Villar d'Arène, Hautes-Alpes, France:

Iron Age-Post Medieval

Steep Terrace

West Mediterranean

At Villar d’Arène, we have contrasting system, characterized by the extension of arable activity to its highest supportable altitudes within Western Europe. This activity is attested to by the highly visible terrace systems in the abutting communes of Villar d’Arène and La Grave (Oisans), where terrace systems extend as high as the treeline in the Southern French Alps (2000 m). The date of the first terraces in this area is unknown although work by Walsh and colleagues has demonstrated how pastoral and agricultural systems emerged about 4000 years ago in the Southern French Alps, however. It seems that a Medieval date is likely for the intensification of terrace-based agriculture in the Oisans area (Girel, et al. 2010). Ancient DNA research already undertaken at the site demonstrates the persistence of DNA in the soils (Yoccoz, et al. 2012).

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Terrace Archaeology

and Culture in Europe