Mid-Late Holocene Environmental Change in NE France

Salt production in the Seille Valley, France

Borehole core sampling Seille, FranceThe Seille Valley in NE France, centred on the village of Marsal, was the European prehistoric centre for salt production.

We are investigating the impact of these industrial scale human activities on the environment, focussing on the sedimentary and hydrological changes in the valley bottom, and the vegetation history e.g. deforestation, land-use. We are also evaluating these environmental changes in the context of the archaeological discoveries by fully integrating our data with the excavation records to improve understanding of the impact of environmental change on the local population.

Excavations at Seille, FranceThe research team at the University of Reading comprises Dr Nick Branch, Dr Naomi Riddiford, Dr Chris Green, Dr Rob Batchelor and Kevin Williams, and a number of undergraduate students (e.g. Matt Smith, Dept of Geography and Environmental Science).

The research involves multi-disciplinary collaboration with archaeologists from the National Museum of Archaeology in Paris (Dr Laurent Olivier). Closely involved is Royal Holloway, University of London (Dr Simon Armitage), and Phil Austin (charcoal specialist).

The methods comprise sedimentology and sedimentary modelling, pollen and charcoal analyses, radiocarbon dating and optically stimulated luminescence dating.

Funding acknowledgements

Region Lorraine (France), British Academy small grant, and NERC/ESRC PhD studentship to Naomi Riddiford.

Selected publications and articles in preparation/submitted

Riddiford, N.,Branch, N.P., Green, C., Armitage, S. and Olivier, L. (2012)Holocene palaeoenvironmental history and the impact of prehistoric salt production in the Seille Valley, Eastern France. The Holocene.

Riddiford, N.G., Branch, N.P., Green, C.P., Armitage, S.J., Austin, P. and Olivier, L. (Submitted) The 'Briquetage de la Seille' (Lorraine, France): environmental context of proto-industrial salt production in the European Iron Age. Antiquity.

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