Session: #303

Theme & Session Format

Archaeology of mountainous landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Building Blocks and Binding Agents - Social and Landscape Impact of Stone Building in the Alps
Alpine landscapes provide many constraints on travel, agriculture, and other relevant aspects of societies. Its inhabitants have adapted to the fractured geography, especially its vertical component, by adopting cultural and economic practices such as the transhumance of livestock. The culture of building and construction is deeply influenced by the characteristics of the alpine landscape. In this sphere, too, the vertical component is important, and carries a strong ideological and reliqious significance.
Stone is an ubiquitous raw material in the Alps. Nonetheless, in many regions wood was the predominant building material for farms and houses. High-status buildings were constructed of stone and mortar. The introduction of these materials, particularly mortar and plaster, in building seems to also have caused changes in the mind set of societies. Stone and mortar construction techniques increase the visibility of man-made structures and therefore have an impact on the landscape. The combination of building material and geographical features carries often religious and ideological connotations which change over location and time.
We invite archaeologists, historians, engineers and representatives of other disciplines to present and compare their studies on alpine sites from all prehistoric and historic periods. We want to look at materials, methods, movements and motivations of builders, patrons and users. Within this session the papers should address one or better some of the below aspects:
- characterise building materials and methods
- confirm or contest conventional dating
- contextualize changing ressource availability
- compare contemporary description and observable practice
- comprehend choices and their pragmatic and symbolic motivations
- clarify impact of stone building on society and landscape
Stone building, Construction, Mortar, Landscape, Masonry, Machine
Session associated with MERC:
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Main organiser:
Sophie Hueglin (Switzerland) 1,2
Patrick Cassitti (Switzerland) 2
Luca Villa (Italy) 3
1. Newcastle University
2. Foundation Pro Monastery St John
3. Independent researcher