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Herding Strategies, Dairy Economy and Seasonal Sites in the Southern Alps: Ethnoarchaeological Inferences and Archaeological Implications

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Francesco CarrerORCiD


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This paper investigates one of the main issues of the archaeology of pastoralism in the southern Alps: thedecrease of upland archaeological evidence in the late Iron Age (IA) and the Roman period. A novelinterpretation is proposed using ethnoarchaeological, ethnographic and ethnohistoric data collected in differentareas of the French and Italian Alps. These data document the existence of two pastoral strategies:Alpine pastoralism (focused on dairying activity) and transhumance (mainly focused on the exploitationof wool and primary products of livestock). The sites related to the first strategy are usually permanent andcomplex, while those related to the second are simple and ephemeral. On the basis of this information, the decrease of upland archaeological evidence during the late IA and the Roman period has been interpretedas a consequence of the decrease of dairy activity and increase of transhumance. These inferences allow us torethink the evolution of human exploitation of high mountain environments, as well as to tackle the bias ofarchaeological invisibility in specific pastoral contexts. Furthermore, they also confirm the important roleof ethnoarchaeology as a method of improving archaeological interpretation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Carrer F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology

Year: 2015

Volume: 28

Issue: 1

Pages: 3-22

Print publication date: 16/06/2015

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

ISSN (print): 0952-7648

ISSN (electronic): 1743-1700

Publisher: Equinox Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1558/jmea.v28i1.27499


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