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The palaeoenvironmental impact of prehistoric settlement and proto-historic urbanism: tracing the emergence of the Oppidum of Corent, Auvergne, France.

Ledger PM, Miras Y, Poux M, Milcent PY - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Although these features are clearly key indicators of human settlement, and characterise Neolithic and early to Middle Bronze Age impacts at Corent, they do not appear to represent defining features of a protohistoric urban environment.The Late Iron Age Gallic Oppidum of Corent is remarkable for the paucity of evidence for agriculture and strong representation of apophytes associated with disturbance.These results clearly indicate the value of local-scale palaeoecological studies and their potential for tracing the phases in the emergence of a proto-historic urban environment.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Clermont Université, Université Blaise Pascal, Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, BP 10448, Clermont-Ferrand, France; CNRS, USR 3550, MSH, Clermont-Ferrand, France; CNRS, UMR 6042, GEOLAB, Clermont-Ferrand, France; Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
Early human societies and their interactions with the natural world have been extensively explored in palaeoenvironmental studies across Central and Western Europe. Yet, despite an extensive body of scholarship, there is little consideration of the environmental impacts of proto-historic urbanisation. Typically palaeoenvironmental studies of Bronze and Iron Age societies discuss human impact in terms of woodland clearance, landscape openness and evidence for agriculture. Although these features are clearly key indicators of human settlement, and characterise Neolithic and early to Middle Bronze Age impacts at Corent, they do not appear to represent defining features of a protohistoric urban environment. The Late Iron Age Gallic Oppidum of Corent is remarkable for the paucity of evidence for agriculture and strong representation of apophytes associated with disturbance. Increased floristic diversity - a phenomenon also observed in more recent urban environments - was also noted. The same, although somewhat more pronounced, patterns are noted for the Late Bronze Age and hint at the possibility of a nascent urban area. High percentages of pollen from non-native trees such as Platanus, Castanea and Juglans in the late Bronze Age and Gallic period also suggest trade and cultural exchange, notably with the Mediterranean world. Indeed, these findings question the validity of applying Castanea and Juglans as absolute chronological markers of Romanisation. These results clearly indicate the value of local-scale palaeoecological studies and their potential for tracing the phases in the emergence of a proto-historic urban environment.

No MeSH data available.


Photographs of the study site.[A] Corent plateau looking to the south (photo: B. Dousteyssier, 2014). [B] Aerial photograph looking northwest across the archaeological excavations and the Lac du Puy (photo: B. Dousteyssier, 2014). [C] View north across the plateau towards the Lac du Puy. Visible in the foreground are the excavated remains of a Gallo-Roman temple (photo: P.M. Ledger, July 2014). [D] View north across the Lac du Puy (photo: P.M. Ledger, July 2014).
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pone.0121517.g002: Photographs of the study site.[A] Corent plateau looking to the south (photo: B. Dousteyssier, 2014). [B] Aerial photograph looking northwest across the archaeological excavations and the Lac du Puy (photo: B. Dousteyssier, 2014). [C] View north across the plateau towards the Lac du Puy. Visible in the foreground are the excavated remains of a Gallo-Roman temple (photo: P.M. Ledger, July 2014). [D] View north across the Lac du Puy (photo: P.M. Ledger, July 2014).

Mentions: The Corent plateau is located within the relict volcanic landscape of the Massif Central approximately 15 km southeast of Clermont-Ferrand at the heart of Auvergne in central France (Figs. 1, 2). At an altitude of between 500–600 m a.s.l. the plateau occupies a commanding position in the valley of the River Allier (c. 300 m a.s.l.) between the Chaîne des Puys to the west and the gradually undulating landscapes to the east. Climatically the region is continental with limited precipitation (585 mm yr−1) and experiences relatively cold winters (January mean 7.3°C) and warm summers (July mean 25.9°C). The geology of the plateau is uncomplicated and dominated by basalt to the north and east, and scoria to the south and west reflecting the plateau’s volcanic origin c. 3 Ma yrs BP [25].


The palaeoenvironmental impact of prehistoric settlement and proto-historic urbanism: tracing the emergence of the Oppidum of Corent, Auvergne, France.

Ledger PM, Miras Y, Poux M, Milcent PY - PLoS ONE (2015)

Photographs of the study site.[A] Corent plateau looking to the south (photo: B. Dousteyssier, 2014). [B] Aerial photograph looking northwest across the archaeological excavations and the Lac du Puy (photo: B. Dousteyssier, 2014). [C] View north across the plateau towards the Lac du Puy. Visible in the foreground are the excavated remains of a Gallo-Roman temple (photo: P.M. Ledger, July 2014). [D] View north across the Lac du Puy (photo: P.M. Ledger, July 2014).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4390215&req=5

pone.0121517.g002: Photographs of the study site.[A] Corent plateau looking to the south (photo: B. Dousteyssier, 2014). [B] Aerial photograph looking northwest across the archaeological excavations and the Lac du Puy (photo: B. Dousteyssier, 2014). [C] View north across the plateau towards the Lac du Puy. Visible in the foreground are the excavated remains of a Gallo-Roman temple (photo: P.M. Ledger, July 2014). [D] View north across the Lac du Puy (photo: P.M. Ledger, July 2014).
Mentions: The Corent plateau is located within the relict volcanic landscape of the Massif Central approximately 15 km southeast of Clermont-Ferrand at the heart of Auvergne in central France (Figs. 1, 2). At an altitude of between 500–600 m a.s.l. the plateau occupies a commanding position in the valley of the River Allier (c. 300 m a.s.l.) between the Chaîne des Puys to the west and the gradually undulating landscapes to the east. Climatically the region is continental with limited precipitation (585 mm yr−1) and experiences relatively cold winters (January mean 7.3°C) and warm summers (July mean 25.9°C). The geology of the plateau is uncomplicated and dominated by basalt to the north and east, and scoria to the south and west reflecting the plateau’s volcanic origin c. 3 Ma yrs BP [25].

Bottom Line: Although these features are clearly key indicators of human settlement, and characterise Neolithic and early to Middle Bronze Age impacts at Corent, they do not appear to represent defining features of a protohistoric urban environment.The Late Iron Age Gallic Oppidum of Corent is remarkable for the paucity of evidence for agriculture and strong representation of apophytes associated with disturbance.These results clearly indicate the value of local-scale palaeoecological studies and their potential for tracing the phases in the emergence of a proto-historic urban environment.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Clermont Université, Université Blaise Pascal, Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, BP 10448, Clermont-Ferrand, France; CNRS, USR 3550, MSH, Clermont-Ferrand, France; CNRS, UMR 6042, GEOLAB, Clermont-Ferrand, France; Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
Early human societies and their interactions with the natural world have been extensively explored in palaeoenvironmental studies across Central and Western Europe. Yet, despite an extensive body of scholarship, there is little consideration of the environmental impacts of proto-historic urbanisation. Typically palaeoenvironmental studies of Bronze and Iron Age societies discuss human impact in terms of woodland clearance, landscape openness and evidence for agriculture. Although these features are clearly key indicators of human settlement, and characterise Neolithic and early to Middle Bronze Age impacts at Corent, they do not appear to represent defining features of a protohistoric urban environment. The Late Iron Age Gallic Oppidum of Corent is remarkable for the paucity of evidence for agriculture and strong representation of apophytes associated with disturbance. Increased floristic diversity - a phenomenon also observed in more recent urban environments - was also noted. The same, although somewhat more pronounced, patterns are noted for the Late Bronze Age and hint at the possibility of a nascent urban area. High percentages of pollen from non-native trees such as Platanus, Castanea and Juglans in the late Bronze Age and Gallic period also suggest trade and cultural exchange, notably with the Mediterranean world. Indeed, these findings question the validity of applying Castanea and Juglans as absolute chronological markers of Romanisation. These results clearly indicate the value of local-scale palaeoecological studies and their potential for tracing the phases in the emergence of a proto-historic urban environment.

No MeSH data available.