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Alpine Archaeology Study Evaluation Essay


A brief description of the archaeological work under investigation

The purpose of this paper is to review the article “Alpine archaeology reveals high life through the ages”, published by ScienceDirect. The study in question was conducted for a period of 14 years, starting in 1998. Archaeologists from the University of York played a key role in this study led by Dr. Kelvin Walsh. The main aim of undertaking this study was to determine the existence of human life in the French Alps 8000 years ago. The palaeoecologists and archaeologists who carried out the excavation were from both France and the UK (University of York par. 1). The study revealed that climatic and human activities in the Alpine region that date as far back as the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Age, and the Medieval ages have helped to shape the landscape of the region.

This is an important archaeological discovery to palaeoecologists, archaeologists, and other stakeholders since it has shed light on human activities in the alpine and sub-alpine zones. The archaeological discovery has also revealed the influence of climate on the inhabitants of the Alpine region during the Mesolithic era (University of York par.4).

The excavation is also important from a historical point of view because it reveals the activities of the inhabitants of this region and the effect they had on the French Alps.

The study has also revealed the shift in lifestyle of the inhabitants of the French Alps from hunting and gathering of food to mechanised agriculture. Another important thing about this archaeological discovery is that it has revealed how the inhabitants of the French Alps exploited its beautiful and remote landscape in order to survive. The study, that took 14 years to complete, is now considered one of the most elaborate archaeological investigations in high altitude areas (University of York par. 3).

The team of French and British researchers who conducted this excavation surveyed more than 300 sites in several valleys. The team also studied pollen collected from cores in lakes, peat areas, and carbonized wood remains (University of York par. 10). The project explored the Alpines and other remote areas in the hope of finding evidence of human existence in higher altitudes. In their investigation, the archaeologists evidence hunting camps dating back to the Stone Age. The hunting camps were located 2000 meters up the Alpines. They also discovered evidence of a Neolithic flint arrowhead at 2475 meters. The inhabitants of the Alps region also practiced pastoralism, albeit seasonally. They also cleared the forest cover to make room for agricultural activities (University of York par. 10).

A review of the popular press piece, including the author’s spin on the information

The article by the University of York (par.1) explores a study conducted by a team of French and British researchers in the Parc National des Eìcrins. The archaeological work entailed the excavation of 300 sites comprising human and animal dwellings. These dwellings are the most intricate structures of the Bronze Age found in the Alps. According to Dr. Kelvin Walsh who was the project’s lead archaeologist, most parts of researchers have assumed that high altitude landscapes (at an altitude of 2000 meters and above) are marginal and remote and as such, they are less likely to support human life. However, the survey team involved in this particular excavation established that people lived in the region. They also revealed that the early inhabitants of the French Alps shaped its modern landscape.

People who lived in the French Alps during the Mesolithic period were involved in such human activities as hunting and pastoralism. The Alps are considered an ecologically sensitive environment for human survival. However, the excavation team established that different human activities took place in the Alps during the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Age, and the Medieval Ages. According to the University of York (par. 8), the human race evolved from hunting and gathering to pastoralism and controlled agricultural practices.

According to the article, the Chalcolithic/Bronze Age is considered the most profound period of human civilization as it depicts how humans embraced seasonal pastoralism as a way of shunning hunting (University of York par.7).

The evidence from the primary research, adopted by the article, suggests that modern pastoralism in the Alps reflects the activities that took place 8000 years ago (Walsh et al. 1). Therefore, the present alpine landscape was shaped by climatic changes and human activities that took place centuries ago.

Another important finding of the research study was the discovery of Stone Age hunting camps located in the upper sections of the Alps. These regions were thought to be hostile to human existence. The study has also established how humans exploited the ecotone found at high altitudes (University of York par. 8). According to the University of York, the ecotone is a sign of an ideal hunting zone. There was less human activity in the low altitude areas of the Alps during both the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Period. In other words, clearing of forests for cultivation was common in the Medieval ages due to increased human activities in high altitude areas (University of York par. 10). According to the article, anthropogenic activities and the primary research share the assumption that human activities in the early ages played a key role in shaping the landscape of the French Alpine.

Critical evaluation of the author’s use of the original, primary research

The author has done an exemplary job of presenting the findings of the archaeological study conducted by Walsh et al. The conclusion made by the article is similar to that of the original study. The author of this article has endeavored to summarize the study while still maintaining the originality of the actual study. In addition, the author has found a unique way to explain the major findings of the original primary research while still maintaining the evidence. For example, both the article and the original primary research have drawn on evidence from different historical ages as well as the activities conducted by people from these ages throughout their transition from one phase to the next one.

The original primary research has also dwelt extensively on the four phases of change and landscape that the indigenous people encountered. The University of York has tried very hard to maintain the originality of the primary research. Both the article and the original primary research show that less human activities took place in low altitude compared to the alpine and sub-alpine attitude (Walsh et al. 1; University of York par 8).

Both the article by the University of York and the primary research share a similar observation that human activity played a key role in shaping the Alpine landscape (Walsh et al. 1). Additionally, both share the view that the combination of climate and people resulted in changes in the Southern French Alps. However, the original primary research has documented more elaborate methods of archaeology in comparison with the article.

Works Cited

University of York. 2013. Web.

Walsh, Kelvin et al. “A historical ecology of the Ecrins (Southern French Alps): Archaeology and palaeoecology of the Mesolithic to the Medieval Period”. Quaternary International 10(2013): 1. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 22). Alpine Archaeology Study Evaluation. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/alpine-archaeology-study-evaluation/

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"Alpine Archaeology Study Evaluation." IvyPanda, 22 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/alpine-archaeology-study-evaluation/.

1. IvyPanda. "Alpine Archaeology Study Evaluation." August 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/alpine-archaeology-study-evaluation/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. "Alpine Archaeology Study Evaluation." August 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/alpine-archaeology-study-evaluation/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Alpine Archaeology Study Evaluation'. 22 August.

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