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"Anthropic Impact, Environmental Change and Agrarian Systems from the Neolithic to the Year 1000 in the Caen Plain"
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris
LabEx DynamiTe - Laboratoire d Excellence « Dynamiques Territoriales et Spatiales »
Full Description:

Research Proposal:

The research done over the past fifteen
years has provided better knowledge of landscape dynamics in the Caen
Plain. This plain contains remarkable sedimentary and archeological
archives across the Parisian basin; it is a “laboratory” with proven but
not yet exploited potential. Nevertheless, fundamental questions remain
as to the landscape dynamic in response to the development of
agro-pastoral societies from the Neolithic Era to the historical period.
The objective is therefore to build a history of agrarian
landscapes from the Neolithic Era to the Medieval period by identifying
the pace and modalities of their construction and the interactions
between environmental changes and the development of agrarian practices
by societies.

The project relies first on new investigations into identified sedimentary archives
outside of archaeological sites (alluvial flats, coastal flats, peat
bogs, large wetland sites). They are known but have not all been
investigated yet, or have been investigated but with insufficient
scientific means to answer the questions asked. These archives will be
exploited using core samples, the sediment in which shall be dated using
radiocarbon dating (AMS) and the most promising will be chosen to
develop the envisaged high resolution time series analyses. As the
survey covers exploitation of the plant resources produced by
populations since the Neolithic Era, the main analytic method shall be
the analysis of pollen and non-pollen micro-remains.
Additional analyses shall also be used: fire signal (quantitative
analysis of carbon particles present in the sediment), which is a very
good indicator of fire use; organic matter chemistry to determine the
degree to which organic sediment has evolved and therefore obtain
information on soil development and groundwater fluctuations; and the
search for molecular markers characteristic of grain production could be
tested. The data acquired off-site will be completed by a comparison
with other paleo-ecologic data produced on-site (archaeobotany and
archaeozoology). The doctoral student shall interpret all of this data
in close collaboration with archeologists to produce a true landscape

The expected results are therefore threefold:
(1) Produce a history of agrarian clearing.
The challenge is important because the Caen Plain has been located on a
pioneer front since the ancient Neolithic period (c. 5200 BCE) and the
density of archaeological sites for the Neolithic period is strongest on
the regional scale whereas the construction of large burial monuments
suggests the magnitude of cleared spaces necessary for their visibility
and affirmation in the landscape. However, the pollen studies conducted
to date indicate low levels of clearing…
(2) Elaborate a landscape archeology
by showing the weight and timeline of anthropic impacts before
historical archives are truly utilizable to build an agrarian history.
The envisaged off-site analyses using sedimentary archives in wetlands
as supporting materials should make it possible to characterize
agrosystems combining the pasturing of cattle herds and grain growing,
and clarify their limits and operation since the Neolithic Era. This is
expected to reveal the consequences of agricultural intensification and
the spread of agrarian land since the Middle Bronze Age. It will above
all be a matter of attempting to show the influence of the construction
of farm plots seen in the region since the Middle Bronze Age on
landscape transformation.
(3) Finally, it will be a matter of re-constructing paleo-environmental evolutions
based on the sedimentary and paleoecological data collected.
Paleoclimatic fluctuations and in particular the transition during the
Middle Holocene period (6-4 ka cal. BP) and the rapid climate changes
seen on the global scale will be looked for in particular. Indeed,
knowledge of them remain embryonic in western France where the
information used is based mainly on research done elsewhere. The aim
will be to analyze their consequences on environmental transformations
and envisage their impact on agrarian societies since the Neolithic Era.

Posted on: 29 March 2016Deadline to apply: 04 May 2016Start Date: 01 September 2016 Duration: 36 months
The Fund category is Mixed Funding and the salary is 15-20k€ annual gross
Doctoral School is Geography of Paris - spaces, societies, planning in the Ile-de-France Region.

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