Firewood-gathering strategies in high mountain areas of the Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici (Central Pyrenees) during Prehistory

Laura Obea Gómez*, Mireia Celma Martinez, Raquel Piqué Huerta, Ermengol Gassiot Ballbè, Maria Martin Seijo, Guillem Salvador Baiges, David Rodríguez Antón, Manuel Quesada Carrasco, Niccoló Mazzucco, David Garcia Casas, Sara Díaz Bonilla, Ignacio Clemente Conte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


For the last twenty years, various interdisciplinary research programs have been studying human presence in high mountain environments and how the different activities carried out there have impacted on the landscape and transformed it since the Early Holocene. Grazing, hunting, mining, and charcoal-making are the most significant outdoor productive activities that have been detected. At the same time, on a day-to-day basis, there was a daily household firewood management, studied here, which was related to fires for cooking, heat and light, as basic needs to be satisfied in the caves and rock-shelters occupied in this high-mountain territory since Prehistory. This paper presents the anthracological results from three sites located in the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park (PNAESM) in the Central Pyrenees occupied between the 9th and the 1st millennia cal BCE. In the PNAESM, different types of occupations have been identified in a basic spatial distribution by a hearth and some artefacts associated with past daily life. In the limit between the upper montane and the subalpine zones, at 1790 m a.s.l., Sardo Cave contains a sequence of seasonal occupations (4600-2500 cal BCE) that used local wood selected according to their needs. In the limit between the subalpine and alpine zones, firewood-gathering would have taken place in the surroundings of the sites from what was available at any moment. However the occupations identified in the rock-shelters of Estany de la Coveta I (7001-3028 cal BCE) at 2430 m a.s.l. and Obagues de Ratera (8182-540 cal BCE) at 2323 m a.s.l. seem to be short-term. In the context of the Central and Eastern Pyrenees, this appears to be the general pattern that will be better defined as more anthracological analyses are performed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2020


  • Anthracology
  • Dendrology
  • Fireplace
  • Montane
  • Subalpine
  • Wood management


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