‘Salaš’: summer farming and transhumance in the Czech Republic from a (pre)historic and environmental perspective
Czech Academy of Sciences
Mountain summer grazing has formed a significant part of the economy in many regions of Europe. In the modern history of the Czech Republic such a system was practiced in the eastern part of the country, East Moravia in the Outer Western Carpathians. It started with the arrival of nomadic shepherds (the Wallachians) in the 15th and 16th centuries and ceased to exist at the beginning of the 20th century. In contrast, in the western part of the country (Bohemia) transhumance has been almost unknown despite the fact that the whole of Bohemia is surrounded by mountain ranges. The only exceptions were so called ‘mountain cabin farming’ (Baudenwirtschaft) in the Krkonoše Mountains¸ introduced in this region by Alpine woodcutters in the late 17th–19th centuries, and the insufficiently recognised animal husbandry in the Šumava Mountains taking place at the same time. The reason why the summer farming was not practiced in Bohemia on a bigger scale has not been fully understood. Environmental rather than cultural factors may be behind it. In this context the possibilities of prehistoric summer farming/transhumance are discussed as well as the limitations of its detection in archaeological and palynological records.