Bioarchaeological approaches to understanding the long-term development of mountain societies

Kevin Walsh, Juliette Knockaert, Katharina Dulias, Charline Giguet-Covex, Dianne Unsain, Sylvain Burri, Pierre Magniez, Alistair Pike, David Orton, Florence Mocci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Archaeologists do not always differentiate between human activities, practices and techniques within landscape archaeology. This problem is reflected in some research into the development of pastoralism in the Alps. Here, we develop a framework within a “position paper” that engages with these different processes by assessing recent developments in bioarchaeological and palaeoenvironmental methods. Over the last two decades, alpine research has moved beyond the mere characterisation of human activities toward the classification and interpretation of specific practices and techniques, changing how we study the development of alpine pastoralism. Research into the development of mid-/long-distance transhumance from the Provencal plains to the Western Alps has generated considerable interest over the last 20 years. Therefore, the PATHWAy (Pastoralism, TransHumance in the Western Alps) project focuses on studying the Iron Age to Medieval pastoral systems in the Western Alps and south-eastern France, which is today one of the main regions in Europe where transhumant pastoralism still takes place. Finally, this contribution aims to review how bioarchaeological methods, combined with “cultural” archaeology, inform detailed quotidian aspects of lifeways rather than impactful, mediatised generalising statements, such as mass population movements or simplistic generalisations about past diet.
Original languageEnglish
Article number199
Number of pages26
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023


  • Bioarchaeology
  • Alps
  • landscape archaeology
  • sedimentary dna
  • Isotope analysis
  • pastoralism

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