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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.


Images of pollen types identified in the core.(A) Highly folded cereal pollen (probably Hordeum-type) from 140–139 cm with a mean size of 39 μm, annulus of 8.5 μm and pore of 3 μm; (B) Juglans pollen identified at 97–96 cm; (C) Platanus (equatorial view) from 75–74 cm; (D) Platanus (polar view).
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pone.0121517.g008: Images of pollen types identified in the core.(A) Highly folded cereal pollen (probably Hordeum-type) from 140–139 cm with a mean size of 39 μm, annulus of 8.5 μm and pore of 3 μm; (B) Juglans pollen identified at 97–96 cm; (C) Platanus (equatorial view) from 75–74 cm; (D) Platanus (polar view).

Mentions: The opening of COR-3a, dating to 2225–1675 cal. BC (Early Bronze Age), marks the beginning of a second significant episode of woodland clearance. AP falls to a minimum of 41%, primarily a result of a declining contribution from Quercus and Corylus, and to a lesser extent Fagus (Fig. 7). Other tree species, notably Betula, Tilia and Fraxinus, remain relatively constant while Pinus records a slight increase from the previous zone. This bias, towards taxa more likely to be present on the plateau suggests the developments of COR-3a reflect highly localised vegetation changes. Moreover, the concurrent expansion of Poaceae, significant increase in pollen from apophytes and sharp rise in microscopic charcoal all point to a period of renewed human activity. Cereal percentages that reach a maximum of 2% and pollen from weeds common to fields such as Agrostemma githago (corn cockle), and to lesser extent P. lanceolata, suggest arable agriculture [49]. A further development is the first registration of the coprophilous fungi Sporormiella-type (common to the dung of grazing herbivores), which may even imply some pastoral activity [35]. Significantly COR-3a also marks the first appearance of pollen from Juglans (walnut) dating to c. cal. 2000–1545 BC (Figs. 7, 8). In the Italian peninsula and the eastern Mediterranean, Juglans, dating to the early Bronze Age, is common and considered an indicator of agricultural expansion in pollen diagrams [53]. Yet, its introduction to France is typically associated with the Roman conquest and process of Romanisation [11].


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)

Images of pollen types identified in the core.(A) Highly folded cereal pollen (probably Hordeum-type) from 140–139 cm with a mean size of 39 μm, annulus of 8.5 μm and pore of 3 μm; (B) Juglans pollen identified at 97–96 cm; (C) Platanus (equatorial view) from 75–74 cm; (D) Platanus (polar view).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone.0121517.g008: Images of pollen types identified in the core.(A) Highly folded cereal pollen (probably Hordeum-type) from 140–139 cm with a mean size of 39 μm, annulus of 8.5 μm and pore of 3 μm; (B) Juglans pollen identified at 97–96 cm; (C) Platanus (equatorial view) from 75–74 cm; (D) Platanus (polar view).
Mentions: The opening of COR-3a, dating to 2225–1675 cal. BC (Early Bronze Age), marks the beginning of a second significant episode of woodland clearance. AP falls to a minimum of 41%, primarily a result of a declining contribution from Quercus and Corylus, and to a lesser extent Fagus (Fig. 7). Other tree species, notably Betula, Tilia and Fraxinus, remain relatively constant while Pinus records a slight increase from the previous zone. This bias, towards taxa more likely to be present on the plateau suggests the developments of COR-3a reflect highly localised vegetation changes. Moreover, the concurrent expansion of Poaceae, significant increase in pollen from apophytes and sharp rise in microscopic charcoal all point to a period of renewed human activity. Cereal percentages that reach a maximum of 2% and pollen from weeds common to fields such as Agrostemma githago (corn cockle), and to lesser extent P. lanceolata, suggest arable agriculture [49]. A further development is the first registration of the coprophilous fungi Sporormiella-type (common to the dung of grazing herbivores), which may even imply some pastoral activity [35]. Significantly COR-3a also marks the first appearance of pollen from Juglans (walnut) dating to c. cal. 2000–1545 BC (Figs. 7, 8). In the Italian peninsula and the eastern Mediterranean, Juglans, dating to the early Bronze Age, is common and considered an indicator of agricultural expansion in pollen diagrams [53]. Yet, its introduction to France is typically associated with the Roman conquest and process of Romanisation [11].

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.