Archive of European Projects

Bloom the Dry. The Creation of Traditional Mediterranean Irrigated Fields (DryIR)
Start date: 01 Sep 2015, End date: 31 Aug 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The main target of the research proposal is to study the historical transformation of Mediterranean drylands into fertile and productive irrigated fields. The construction and maintenance of irrigated fields has been one of the most successful strategies adopted by past societies to cope with the uncertainty of the Mediterranean weather. Many irrigated fields were constructed in the past and are still in use today, being among the most productive agrarian areas in Europe. Irrigated fields have also been considered as a conspicuous feature of Mediterranean arid and semi-arid environments.Several researchers from the natural and the social sciences have studied these agrarian areas. However, most of the research carried out to date has followed a unidisciplinary approach to study fully established irrigated fields. No attention has been paid to their initial formation process, including the nature of the pre-existing dry soils before construction of the fields, the techniques involved in their construction or the edaphological changes brought about by irrigation.My research will tackle these issues through the study of four still-operative, sustainable and highly productive irrigated fields that were constructed for the first time during the Medieval expansion of Islam along the Mediterranean (from AD 632): Saddina (Morocco), and Huerta de Abarán, Horta de València and Pla de la Vila (Spain). The integration of geoarchaeological methods with the techniques that will be acquired at the host institution, the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel (infrared spectroscopy and phytolith concentration quantification analyses) will allow me to study the genesis of traditional irrigated fields from an interdisciplinary perspective. The proposed research will therefore acquire data of practical use for future european policies aiming at transforming rural Mediterranean drylands into intensive agrarian areas.
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