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Análisis antracológico de estructuras altimontanas en el Valle de La Vansa-Sierra del Cadi (Alt Urgell) y en el Valle del Matriu (Andorra): explotación de recursos forestales del Neolítico a la época moderna

Itxaso Euba 1
Abstract : Charcoal analysis of high mountain structures in the Vansa valley - Cadi Mountain range (Alt Urgell) and in the Madriu valley (Andorra): forest resources uses from the Neolithic to modern age In this paper we present the results of the charcoal analyses obtained during the first stage of the project called Ocupació del sòl i formes del paisatge de muntanya als Pirineus orientals de l'Antiguitat a l'època medieval, directed by J.M. Palet (ICAC) and S. Riera (SERP-UB). The studied areas are two: southern slope of the Cadi mountain range, specifically Vansa valley (Vansa-Fórnols and Josa-Tuixén, Alt Urgell) located in the Cadi Natural Park, and Madriu valley, located in Escaldes (Andorra). Antracological studies have a fundamental role in the constitution of this project, since the charcoal residues are present and particularly abundant in all the structures. The objective of this work is to understand and learn the dynamics and relationship of the population that occupied these valleys with the high mountain and, in particular, with its forests. The recorded structures were charcoal kilns, furnaces and cattle constructions. We analysed levels from an ample chronological range; starting from Neolithic Antique and going all the way to Modern Age. From Neolithic Antique to Modern Age, cattle populations that rose to these altitudes searching for summer meadows collected wood from their immediate surroundings. The main purpose of these shepherds was to obtain good meadows to feed their cattle. The wood was solely used as building material for houses and other structures. During Roman times, mainly in Cadi, the metallurgical activity (at least one part of it, as it is the first transformation of the iron) gains importance. Although we still have not proved the existence of charcoal kilns during this period, we suppose that the fuel of choice for this purpose was coal. Nevertheless, the majority of data obtained regarding the use of wood belongs to the charcoal kilns identified and dated between the 14th and 18th centuries. These kilns are directly related to the ovens found in the surroundings. The type woods used for this purpose were freshly cut pine, birch and fir. In this paper, besides the type of wood that was used, we have been able to understand additional ethnographic aspects of the charcoal makers through the study of current charcoal producers. In spite of the little variability of the anthracological results, we have been able to observe several vegetal formations from mountain and sub-alpine stages. Pine represents almost the totality of practically all the structures. This has allowed us to take some measurements in the structure of the fragments in order to see if it's possible to distinguish in between the Pinus sylvestris and Pinus uncinata. The exceptional preservation of the charcoal samples has allowed us to observe several objects that conserved its morphology, such as: covers for containers or a handle for some type of tool. We have been able to observe that the taxa used for activities that require a great amount of raw material, are those obtained from the immediate surroundings (in this case pine). Although the manufacturing of objects would be performed during shepherds' and charcoal makers' free time with the wood from their immediate surroundings, it is very probable that they carried objects made with material from other settings, like boxwood or fir. The high mountain, unlike what it has traditionally believed, has never been a fringe area. During times when agricultural activities were considered a priority, the occupation of High Mountain not only does not decrease but stabilizes, since this surrounding offer a series of much appreciated specific resources since prehistory (i.e.: forests, minerals and meadows).
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Submitted on : Sunday, February 7, 2010 - 10:56:27 AM
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Itxaso Euba. Análisis antracológico de estructuras altimontanas en el Valle de La Vansa-Sierra del Cadi (Alt Urgell) y en el Valle del Matriu (Andorra): explotación de recursos forestales del Neolítico a la época moderna. Humanities and Social Sciences. Institut Català d'Arqueologia Clàssica; Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 2008. Español. ⟨tel-00454006⟩



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