Session: #179

Theme & Session Format

1. Widening horizons through human-environment interconnections
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

The Geoarchaeology and Sustainability of Cultivation Terraces and Lynchets in Europe
Cultivation, or agricultural terraces (and lynchets), are seen as characteristic land-forming elements in many parts of Europe and worthy of protection under both Global and European Heritage Protection schemes (e.g. UN Sustainability Goals and FAO-GIAHS). This is partly because they are under threat from the refashioning of agriculture on slopes, forestry and rural depopulation. There is a real danger that many will disappear before they have been recorded let alone investigated. Even where they are protected, and being maintained or rebuilt, we rarely know their full use-history, origins and relationship to settlements. This is largely because cultivation terraces have rarely been the focus of archaeological excavation per se – due to problems of dating, a typical lack of finds, and problems of deciphering their past cultivation history from aerobic and biologically active soils. However, there is a suite of new techniques which can overcome some of these problems ranging from Lidar to optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. This session will examine a range of aspects of terrace archaeology from the identification and mapping of terraces, through excavation and geochemical methods, to soil micromorphology and direct-sediment dating techniques (such as OSL). Progress has also been made in the use of phytoliths and, most recently, biomolecular methods, including sedaDNA have been attempted. Knowing the original crops or vegetation on terraces as well as their date of construction can both inform landscape archaeology and the range of possible land uses that they could be restored to.
This session will present papers using these techniques on terrace systems in Europe and also the Heritage and sustainability aspects of terraces in the light of the refocussing of agricultural incentive schemes and support from both the EU and European governments.
Agriculture, Sustainability, Environmental Archaeology, Climate, Geoarchaeology
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Main organiser:
Daniel Fallu (Norway) 1
Kevin Walsh (United Kingdom) 2
Victor Klinkenberg (Netherlands) 3
1. Arctic University Museum of Norway
2. University of York
3. Leiden University