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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Publication details

Wilkinson, K. Gerrard, C. , Aguilera, I. Bailiff I.K. & Pope, R. (2005). Prehistoric and Historic Landscape Change in Aragón, Spain: Some Results from the Moncayo Archaeological Survey. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 18(1): 31-54.

Author(s) from Durham


The Moncayo Archaeological Survey (MAS) was initiated in 2000 to investigate population, economic and environmental change in a study area northwest of Zaragoza in the northeast of Spain. This is an interdisciplinary project which combines landscape archaeology with earth-science methodologies and approaches. Research undertaken during the first four field seasons has concentrated on reconstructing and explaining landscape change, while at the same time cataloguing existing archaeological records and prospecting for previously unknown sites. Two episodes of significant landscape change dating to the Neolithic/Bronze Age and post-medieval period have been identified from the geomorphological record. These are interpreted here as the result of human land-use change: in the prehistoric period from clearance of woodland during the Neolithic and the subsequent expansion of agriculture in the Bronze Age, and in the 19th century from the removal of upland woodland following changes in land ownership and management. Notably, evidence for erosion and deposition was not found for either the Roman or medieval periods when archaeological and historical evidence indicate that local population was at its highest and agriculture at its most intense, nor from the height of the Little Ice Age when climate is thought to have been at its most extreme. Therefore, direct relationships between the intensity of agriculture or climate change and landscape modification are rejected here in favour of a more complex interaction of multiple human and climatic variables. These can only be understood by a combination of high-resolution archaeological survey, geoarchaeological study and chronometric dating.

Department of Archaeology

Scottish Soldiers Project

Cooperating with the Palace Museum in China