Late Würm Late glacial and Holocene environmental history of the Central-Western Mediterranean

Collection of core samples at Lago Riane, Ligurian Apennines


The geographical foci of our research are the northern Apennines (Italy) and the island of Corsica (France). We are examining the relationship between key climatic events at ~8200, ~6000 and ~4200 cal yrs BP, and significant vegetation changes, in particular the history of Abies, Fagus and Ulmus. We are also evaluating these important climatic and vegetation changes in the context of cultural developments at the transitions from the Late Mesolithic - Early Neolithic (~7800 cal yrs BP), Late Neolithic - Early Copper Age (~6100 cal yrs BP), and Early Bronze Age - Middle Bronze Age (~4200 cal yrs BP).

The methods comprise sedimentology and sedimentary modelling, pollen and charcoal analyses, testate amoebae analysis, wood and plant macrofossil analyses, stable isotope analysis, and radiocarbon dating.


The Research Team

Collection of borehole core samples at Crovani, CorsicaThe research team at the University of Reading comprises Dr Nick Branch, Dr Stuart Black and Dr Nathalie Marini, and a number of undergraduate (e.g. Rachel Goodyear, Dept of Archaeology; Ian Thomas, GES) and masters (e.g. Rachel Braithwaite, MSc Geoarchaeology, Dept of Archaeology) students.

The research involves multi-disciplinary collaboration with palaeoecologists, botanists and historical ecologists from the University of Genoa (Dr Carlo Montanari), and archaeologists from the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Liguria (Dr Roberto Maggi). Closely involved are the Universities of Nottingham (Dr Mark Pearce) and Winchester (Dr Keith Wilkinson).

Funding acknowledgements

University of Reading small grant.

Selected publications and articles in preparation/submitted

Branch, N.P. and Marini, N. (Submitted) Mid-Late Holocene environmental change and human activities in the northern Apennines, Italy. Quaternary International.

Branch, N.P. (In prep) Holocene Vegetation History, Climate Change and Human Activities at Lago Riane (Ligurian Apennines, NW Italy). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

Branch, N.P. 2004 Late Wurm lateglacial and Holocene environmental history of the Ligurian Apennines, Italy. In: Balzaretti, R., Pearce, M. and Watkins, C. (eds.), Ligurian Landscapes, Studies in Archaeology, Geography and History, 7-69, Accordia, London.

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