The ArchaeDyn project aims to continue a collective research experiment initiated by the European programmes Archaeomedes I “Understanding natural and anthropogenic causes of soil degradation and desertification in the Mediterranean basin” (1992-1994) and II “Policy-relevant models of the natural and anthropogenic dynamics of degradation and desertification and their spatio-temporal manifestations” (1996-1999), and relayed by an ACI Space and territories programme (2005-2007).

The object of these successive programmes was to analyse the evolution of settlement patterns over a long period, from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. The ACI programme “Spatial dynamics of settlements and natural resources: towards a long-term integrated analysis, from prehistory to the Middle Ages” has contributed to enlarging the problematic of research undertaken by a group of eight teams, one of them being Slovene, in dealing with territorial dynamics studied from several angles, both on the thematic and chronological level as well as the spatial level.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Archaedyn project : Spatial dynamic of settlement patterns and natural resources over the long term

The ArchaeDyn project aims to continue a collective research experiment initiated by the European programmes Archaeomedes I “Understanding natural and anthropogenic causes of soil degradation and desertification in the Mediterranean basin” (1992-1994) and II “Policy-relevant models of the natural and anthropogenic dynamics of degradation and desertification and their spatio-temporal manifestations” (1966-1999), and relayed by an ACI Space and territories programme (2005-2007).

The object of these successive programmes was to analyse the evolution of settlement patterns over a long period, from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. The ACI programme “Spatial dynamics of settlements and natural resources: towards a long-term integrated analysis, from prehistory to the Middle Ages” has contributed to enlarging the problematic of research undertaken by a group of eight teams, one of them being Slovene, in dealing with territorial dynamics studied from several angles, both on the thematic and chronological level as well as the spatial level.

The aim of the project is to delve deeper into the analysis of spatial interactions between social groups, the resources that they exploit to insure their subsistence, the manufacturing of objects and trade with other groups over a short, medium and long distance, and the itineraries which govern the flow at different periods.

The investigation progresses by exploring several themes, such as varied geographical scales, from the micro-region to Western and Central Europe, including French territorial space, at equally varied periods, from the Neolithic to the modern era. We proceed by evaluating and measuring how the territories are constituted and how they evolve by taking into account the exploitation of mineral and biological resources, the activities of agro-pastoral and craft production, and the circulation and consumption of manufactured goods.

This archaeological investigation is based on different types of objects: objects made of stone or metal, habitat systems, areas cultivated during the periods under consideration, and ancient or medieval field systems fossilized by forest.

The objective is clearly to model the evolution of spaces which concern these occupations and activities, and to characterize, on the one hand, their rate of human influence and, on the other hand, the evolution of this human influence: modes of the agrarian conquest of space, growth and decline, eventually the abandonment of the occupation, types of activities, the consumption of what kinds of objects. It is not a question of being confined to a catalogue juxtaposing paths according to one theme or another: the goal is to envisage the structuration of territories, their mode of organization and their evolution over the longest duration possible.

With this aim, the objective is to specify the quantitative and qualitative indicators which enable one to measure territorial dynamics, their attractiveness, their skills, their relation to the social hierarchy as a factor of stimulation and economic development. It will then be possible to establish a typology of territories according to their evolution and in function of different fixed indicators, and to compare the different paths taken by these territorial types.

The study group brings together experienced as well as young researchers, doctoral students and post-docs, archaeologists, geographers, geometricians and geodesists, attached to divers institutions: CNRS, universities (8 UMR), INRAP engineers, heritage curators (Minister for Arts), researchers and doctoral students from two institutes of the Scientific Research Centre of the Academy of Science and Art of Slovenia.

The research is distributed among the work-groups, each one devoted to the study of a theme and the elaboration of appropriate methods: 1. “Catchment areas, terroirs and community lands”, 2. “Settlement patterns, networks and territories”, 3. “Diffusion of raw materials and manufactured objects, 4. “Spatial dynamics of settlement and natural resources”. The work-groups meet several times during the year. An annual round table is held to make an assessment of each workshop’s activity, to cross information and to refine the investigations on both the methodological and technical level. A steering committee organizes a meeting once a year with the coordinators of the programme, the heads of the work-groups and the representatives of partner-teams. This committee is responsible for evaluating the progress of research, overseeing the management of the budget, setting the dates for meetings, developing the activities for the presentation and the publication of the research results within each workshop during the programme (journals, symposium proceedings) and organizing, in fine, the edition of the final synthetic work.

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