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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.


Percentage pollen and spore diagram for archaeological samples, displaying selected taxa (based on the TLP sum).Also shown is the summary diagram and pollen sum for each sample. + indicates <1% TLP.
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pone.0121517.g005: Percentage pollen and spore diagram for archaeological samples, displaying selected taxa (based on the TLP sum).Also shown is the summary diagram and pollen sum for each sample. + indicates <1% TLP.

Mentions: In total only five sediment samples from varying archaeological contexts and eras contained sufficient pollen to undertake counts (Table 1; Fig. 5). The clearest observation from this data is the general lack of inter sample variation in the pollen assemblages and that they compare favourably to similar analyses from sites in Auvergne (e.g. [23]). Typically arboreal pollen accounts for between 10–20% of the assemblage with Pinus, Quercus, Betula, Corylus and Abies being the dominant types (Fig. 5). Poaceae percentages range between 17–29%, cereal pollen is present in each sample and the assemblage of herbs is broadly comparable. Only UF-23807, dating to the 2nd century AD, differs slightly with higher percentages of apophytes (mainly Urticaceae and Rumex) and a less diverse assemblage of herbs. Thus, the clearest difference between the samples is in their inferred preservation state. Older samples tend to record positive scores along axis 2 of the PCA and younger samples generally respond negatively (Fig. 4). This is apparent in the low pollen sums, high Lactuceae counts of between 45–55% and Indeterminable pollen percentages in excess of 30% for samples dating to the La Tène and Hallstatt periods (Fig. 5).


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)

Percentage pollen and spore diagram for archaeological samples, displaying selected taxa (based on the TLP sum).Also shown is the summary diagram and pollen sum for each sample. + indicates <1% TLP.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone.0121517.g005: Percentage pollen and spore diagram for archaeological samples, displaying selected taxa (based on the TLP sum).Also shown is the summary diagram and pollen sum for each sample. + indicates <1% TLP.
Mentions: In total only five sediment samples from varying archaeological contexts and eras contained sufficient pollen to undertake counts (Table 1; Fig. 5). The clearest observation from this data is the general lack of inter sample variation in the pollen assemblages and that they compare favourably to similar analyses from sites in Auvergne (e.g. [23]). Typically arboreal pollen accounts for between 10–20% of the assemblage with Pinus, Quercus, Betula, Corylus and Abies being the dominant types (Fig. 5). Poaceae percentages range between 17–29%, cereal pollen is present in each sample and the assemblage of herbs is broadly comparable. Only UF-23807, dating to the 2nd century AD, differs slightly with higher percentages of apophytes (mainly Urticaceae and Rumex) and a less diverse assemblage of herbs. Thus, the clearest difference between the samples is in their inferred preservation state. Older samples tend to record positive scores along axis 2 of the PCA and younger samples generally respond negatively (Fig. 4). This is apparent in the low pollen sums, high Lactuceae counts of between 45–55% and Indeterminable pollen percentages in excess of 30% for samples dating to the La Tène and Hallstatt periods (Fig. 5).

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.