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Shaping Mediterranean landscapes: the cultural impact of anthropogenic fires in Tyrrhenian southern Tuscany during the Iron and Middle Ages (800-450 BC / AD 650-1300)

Buonincontri, Mauro Paolo and Pieruccini, Pierluigi and Susini, Davide and Lubritto, Carmine and Ricci, Paola and Rey, Fabian and Tinner, Willy and Colombaroli, Daniele and Drescher-Schneider, Ruth and Dallai, Luisa and Marasco, Lorenzo and Poggi, Giulio and Bianchi, Giovanna and Hodges, Richard and Di Pasquale, Gaetano. (2020) Shaping Mediterranean landscapes: the cultural impact of anthropogenic fires in Tyrrhenian southern Tuscany during the Iron and Middle Ages (800-450 BC / AD 650-1300). Holocene, 30 (10). pp. 1420-1437.

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Abstract

Charcoal analysis, applied in sediment facies analysis of the Pecora river palaeochannel (Tyrrhenian southern Tuscany, Italy), detected the occurrence of past fire events in two different fluvial landforms at 800-450 BC and again at AD 650-1300. Taking place in a central Mediterranean district adequately studied through palaeoenvironmental and archaeological research, the investigation determined land changes, time phases and socio-economic driving forces involved in dynamic processes of fire. The fire sequences had purely anthropogenic origins and were linked to forest opening and reduction by local communities. Introduced by the Etruscans, fires dated to 800-450 BC involved mainly the forest cover on the hilly slopes, ensuring agricultural exploitation. From AD 650, fires contributed to Medieval upstream reclamation and vegetation clearing of flat swamplands. From AD 850 to 1050, the use of fire spread over a wider area in the river valley, increasing arable lands. Between AD 1150 and 1300, fires belonged to a regional forest clearance phase. Medieval fire episodes had a paramount importance in shaping and determining the character of the Tuscan Mediterranean landscape. From AD 850, Medieval fire clearing influenced regional vegetation history contributing to the decline of the dominant deciduous Quercus woodland. Open habitats became the new form of a clearly detectable agricultural landscape from AD 950. The use of fire clearing and the resulting landscape changes in the Pecora river valley depended on the political strategies adopted by Medieval authorities and marked, in fact, the progression of a cultural landscape still characterizing central Tyrrhenian Italy.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Geoƶkologie (Heiri)
UniBasel Contributors:Rey, Fabian
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0959-6836
e-ISSN:1477-0911
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:07 Jan 2021 15:58
Deposited On:07 Jan 2021 15:58

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