El estudio de los incendios forestales como contribución al conocimiento de la arqueología del paisaje de montaña

Translated title of the contribution: The study of forest fires as a contribution to the knowledge of the archaeology of the mountain landscape

Marc Sánchez Morales, Sara Rodríguez Coteron, Ramon Pérez-Obiol, Albert Pèlachs, Jordi Nadal Tersa, Juan Carlos García Codron, Raquel Cunill Artigas, Virginia Carracedo Martín, Salvador Beato Bergua, Anna Badia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The study of historical forest fires has highlighted the importance of fire in shaping the landscapes of mountain areas since the beginning of the Holocene. Plant formations associated with regular burning and landscape disturbance have evolved at the same time as human activities have transformed and adapted to environmental changes. In recent years, different palaeobotanical techniques within the framework of environmental geohistory have highlighted the importance of multidisciplinary work. In particular, there is a need to complement and contrast woody plant indicators such as pollen and non-pollen palynomorphs. For example, the sedimentary conditions of lakes and peatlands have allowed the study of sedimentary macrocharcoals (>150 μm) and microcharcoals (<150 μm), interpreted at the scale of each valley. In soils, pedoanthracology (>400 μm) has provided local spatial information and information on woody species composition. Likewise, fire marks on tree growth rings are a way of adjusting some timelines. The aim of this work is to assess what contributions can be made from historical environmental geography that are useful for mountain landscape archaeology. To this end, we reviewed the main palaeobotanical techniques for the study of historical fires in mountain areas, discussed the spatial and temporal precision of the charcoals according to their size and the sampling techniques used, and examined how to distinguish climatic and human signals in forest fires. The main results suggest that natural fires have burned all types of landscapes, regardless of plant formation. The amount of biomass available at any given time was shown to be a determinant of fire intensity. Finally, the combination of sedimentary charcoals and pollen indicators suggests that human-induced fires have existed since the beginning of the Neolithic, while it is still unclear whether fires in earlier times were anthropogenic or not.
Translated title of the contributionThe study of forest fires as a contribution to the knowledge of the archaeology of the mountain landscape
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)111-126
Number of pages16
JournalTreballs d'arqueologia
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2023


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