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Terrace Archaeology

and Culture in Europe



Cinque Terre, Ligurian Hills, N Italy:

Iron Age-Post Medieval

Steep Terrace

Central Mediterranean

The Cinque Terre (The Five Lands) is a coastal region of Liguria (NW Italy), which encompasses five small towns connected by a coastal pathway that represents an important national tourist attraction. Since 1997, this rocky coast with terraced vineyards has been included in the ‘‘World Heritage List’’ of UNESCO for its high scenic and cultural value and more recently, in 1999, it has become a National Park. Due to the morphological characteristic of this area, the landscape is characterized by terraces, supported by dry-stone walls, for the cultivation of vineyards. These terraces are not only an important cultural heritage but also a complex system of landscape engineering (Canuti et al. 2004). However, the recent abandonment of farming and neglect of terraces have led to a rapid increase in land degradation (Tarolli et al., 2014a; Tarolli et al., 2014b), with serious threats to human settlements located along the coast, because of the vicinity of mountain catchments to the coastline (Conti & Fagarazzi 2004). The instability of the dry-stone walls and the clogging of drainage channels are now the most frequent landslide mechanisms in the (Canuti et al. 2004; Tarolli et al. 2014a). The dry-stone walls if abandoned will collapse due to earth pressure or shallow landslides. Recently, several landslide processes and related terrace failures were triggered by an intense rainfall events.


Castronovo di Sicilia, Central Sicily:

6th-12th Century

Steep Terrace/ Urban

Central Mediterranean