Document Details

Title Response Diversity and the Evolution of Pastoral Landscapes in the Western Pyrenees from the Middle Holocene to the Presen
Archive All Files / Documents / Publications / Conference Papers
Abstract

We have used a place-based research strategy that incorporates geoarchaeological, biophysical and socio-ecological factors to examine the evolution of pastoral landscapes in the western Pyrenees from the Middle Holocene to the Present. Our research brings particular attention to the timing and spatial patterning of converting mid-elevation forests to grassland pastures at a landscape level, a long-term, dynamic and spatially heterogeneous press process. The relation between places in a pastoral landscape – e.g., cabins, pathways, corrals, caves, springs, overhangs – defines the occurrence of pastoral movement at varying social scales while a herder adjusts his livestock portfolio in response to environmental stochasticity using experience and knowledge to evaluate the risks and opportunities encountered. Places thus serve as the arena in which repeated circulation and activities reflecting herder response diversity produce meaningful material patterns on the landscape. For example, over at least the last 1000 years pastoral production in the Western Pyrenees has been organized at the scale of a valley and centered on a seasonally occupational unit variously called a cayolar, olha, cujala, etc. While at its root the word means a cabin, it refers practically and legally to the social institution that regulates the collective use and management of mountain pastures and forests by herders distributed across the landscape at named places serving as gateways to the common resources exploited by sheep and people. Human response diversity across the millennia in the Western Pyrenees has structured the landscape creating resilient and durable agropastoral production systems and the underlying pathways and mechanisms of pedogenesis. The outcomes have and continue to have important consequences for ecosystem-level rates of sediment accumulation and organic matter decomposition.

Contributors T.L. Gragson, D.S. Leigh and M.R. Coughlan
Citation

Gragson, T.L., Coughlan, M.R., Leigh, D.S., Response Diversity and the Evolution of Pastoral Landscapes in the Western Pyrenees from the Middle Holocene to the Present. Paper presented at the International Landscape Archaeology Conference, 20 June, 2018, Newcastle University, Newcastle, U.K.

File Date 2018
Web Link PDF file
view/download PDF file