Driving forces and variability in the exploitation of a high-altitude landscape from the Neolithic to Medieval Periods in the southern French Alps

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The aim of this paper is to assess the development of summer-activities in the high-altitude zone of the Southern French Alps between the Neolithic and Middle Ages. During these periods, there was enormous variety in the nature of high-altitude activity in these valleys. The Bronze Age witnessed the establishment of the first stone-built pastoral structures at 2200m and above. This marked an important change in the engagement with this landscape, with high-altitude summer pasturing emerging as a new activity. The Iron Age and Roman Period are characterised by a dearth of archaeological structures, but continued palaeoecological signals for pastoral (and possibly mining) activity. The Medieval periods saw a substantial increase in activity; a combination of pastoralism and mining, with some large high altitude settlements created which imply the wholesale summer movement of communities from valley-bottom to the high altitude zones.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSummer farms
Subtitle of host publicationSeasonal exploitation of the uplands from prehistory to the present
EditorsJohn R. Collis, Franco Nicolis, Mark Pearce
Place of PublicationSheffield
PublisherJ.R. Collis Publications
Pages183 - 201
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9780906090558
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016

Publication series

NameSheffield Archaeological Monographs
PublisherJ.R. Collis Publications


  • Alps
  • Pastoralism
  • Neolithic herding
  • Bronze Age

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