Attitudes to altitude: changing meanings and perceptions within a 'marginal' Alpine landscape - the integration of palaeoecological and archaeological data in a high-altitude landscape in the French Alps

Kevin Walsh, Susan Richer, J. -L. de Beaulieu

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Research into Alpine archaeology in France has concentrated on the lower altitudes and has emphasized economic and chrono-typological approaches. Notions of Alpine landscapes as marginal, defined via discourses imbued with environmental determinism, have informed this type of archaeology. A multidisciplinary project has studied the history of the presence and absence of people in two adjacent study areas in the Ecrins National Park. Some 240 new sites have been discovered, of which nearly forty have been securely dated through excavation. This paper presents the results from one of these areas. We consider how our evidence can be used not only to reconstruct past economic activities, but also to assess how pre- and proto-historic peoples may have engaged with this enigmatic and supposedly risky milieu.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-454
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


  • Alps
  • France
  • Mesolithic
  • Neolithic
  • Bronze Age
  • palaeoecology
  • perception
  • marginality

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