Changes in pyrenean woodlands as a result of the intensity of human exploitation: 2,000 years of metallurgy in Vallferrera, northeast iberian peninsula

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Abstract

This research is based on the discovery of a large number of charcoal kiln sites and abandoned iron mines in Vallferrera (Axial Pyrenees, northeastern Spain). The study reveals that this region has been affected by the metal mining and smelting industry for at least 2,000 years, with maximum intensity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, followed by abandonment of the activity. The region's woodland dendrochronology and historical records indicate that exploitation of wood charcoal for metalworking affected the past vegetation in the area and impeded the development of mature woodland. Our findings suggest that the greatest changes in vegetation and landscape history occurred at times of particular specialization in socioeconomic activities. © Springer-Verlag 2009.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-416
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Volume18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009

Keywords

  • Archival documentation
  • Charcoal kilns
  • Dendrochronology
  • Late Holocene
  • Palaeometallurgy
  • Pyrenees

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