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Landscape evolution in the Grand Marais of Limagne (Puy-de-Dôme, France), from the Iron Age to modern times. An archaeological and paleoenvironmental study in a long-lasting perspective (GRAND MARAIS)
Start date: 17 Dec 2007, End date: 16 Aug 2009 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The aim of the project is to reconstruct the landscape evolution of the Grand Marais of Limagne (Puy-de-Dôme, France), a km2 100 plain that is located East of the town of Clermont-Ferrand, in the very centre of the region of the Arvernes, one of the most important peoples of ancient Gaul. It is a region that, from the end of the Bronze Age, was interested by a high density of population and for a thriving economy, mainly based on agriculture, whose prosperity was guaranteed by the so-called dark earth (terres noires), legendary for its fertility. Until the end of the 1960s, this area was considerably conditioned by the instability of the river network, as it is attested by the written sources, so that the anthropic exploitation of this region was only possible through an incessant fight against the water.Understanding the form and the aspect of the drainage system implemented from the late Iron Age (III century B.C.), in a long-lasting perspective, is undoubtedly a key to understand the type and the extent o f the social interventions carried out on the environment in the different periods, from the Antiquity until today. In order to obtain this result, the existing documentation and the new data both, archaeological/topographical and paleo environmental, will be crossed within a GIS (Geographic Information System), in order to distinguish the different chronologies of ancient territorial assessments (cadastre grids), having often different orientation and metric module, and to propose a general pattern of lands cape evolution. It is worth mentioning that this project will have further practical outputs.In practice a sort of numeric georeferenced archive of all archaeological and paleo environmental data for the Grand Marais area will be created: it is going to be come an instrument of great utility to local administrations, in order to assure a territorial planning completely respectful of the Cultural and Natural Heritage.
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