An historical ecology of the Neolithic to Medieval Periods in the southern French Alps: a reassessment of ‘driving forces’
Kevin Walsh [+]
University of York
The aim of this paper is to assess the development of summer activities in the high-altitude zone of the southern French Alps between the Neolithic and the Middle Ages. During these periods, there was enormous variety in the nature of high-altitude activity in these valleys. The Bronze Age witnessed the establishment of the first stone-built pastoral structures at 2200m and above. This marked an important change in the engagement with this landscape, with high-altitude summer pasturing emerging as a new activity. The Iron Age and Roman Period are characterised by a dearth of archaeological structures, but continued palaeoecological signals for pastoral (and possibly mining) activity. The medieval periods saw a substantial increase in activity; a combination of pastoralism and mining, with some large high altitude settlements created which imply the wholesale summer movement of communities from valley-bottom to the high altitude zones.