Bachelor of Arts
Landscape archaeology, Terraces, Agriculture, Cultural ecology, Historical ecology
This study examines the role of agricultural terracing in the archaeological landscape of Monte Pallano, in the Sangro river valley of Abruzzo, Italy. This area is the research focus of the Sangro Valley Project, an ongoing archaeological project whose mission is to investigate and characterize long-term dynamics of human settlement and land use in this region. The project's 2010 and 2011 field seasons incorporated a program of mapping and reconnaissance survey and experimental excavation of abandoned agricultural terraces on the upper slopes of Monte Pallano. The survey was designed to assess the spatial distribution of agricultural terraces in the study area and to describe major patterns of form, construction style, and degradation. Test excavations of selected terraces sought to characterize the sedimentary profile of the terrace fill and gather botanical and sediment samples that might date the period of the terrace's construction and use.
The survey found important stylistic and typological variations in terrace form across the study area, and identified distinct systems of terracing on the eastern, western, and southern flanks of Monte Pallano. Excavations within a small area on the west flank clarified aspects of terrace construction, though an effective program of sampling requires further development. Comparative studies from elsewhere in the Mediterranean, and the limited evidence from the terraces themselves, suggest that the majority of the extant terraces on Pallano are the product of early modern (18th-19th century) agricultural intensification. Terrace systems particularly on the southern flank may be ancient constructions based on stylistic distinctions and their close association with archaeological sites. Excavations in the Sangro Valley and elsewhere have indicated that terracing was a technology used to a certain extent in antiquity. The findings of previous survey, excavation, and palaeoethnobotanical investigations in the region point to phases of population and settlement growth in antiquity and the exploitation of a mountain economy similar to that of later time periods. A continued investigation of early modern land use is therefore essential for modeling long-term settlement dynamics, land use, and human-environment interactions in the Sangro Valley.
Countryman, James R., "Agricultural Terracing and Landscape History at Monte Pallano, Abruzzo, Italy" (2012). Honors Papers. 349.