Dynamic Landscapes, Artifact Taphonomy, and Landuse Modeling in the Western Mediterranean

C Michael Barton, Joan Bernabeu, J. Emili Aura, Oreto Garcia, Neus La Roca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The Polop Alto valley, in eastern Spain, is characteristic of many Mediterranean landscapes. It has been sporadically repccupied over the course of at least 80 kyr. Its landforms have undergone various geomorphic processes resulting from late Quaternary environmental fluctuations. During the Holocene, the valley has been modified by millennia of extensive land clearance, cultivation, and terracing. As a result, the evidence for human activity and landuse is a cumulative, but discontiguous palimpsest of the most durable behavioral residues -primarily stone and ceramic artifacts - whose distributions have been affected by diverse natural and cultural formation processes. Human occupation of the Polop Alto spans the evolution of morphologically modern humans and the replacement of foraging economies by farming, arguably the two most significant biobehavioral transitions for human life today. To better understand the changes in human landuse that accompanied these important transitions, we have employed an integrated suite of techniques aimed at unmixing the diverse formation processes that have affected Polop Alto landscapes and material culture. These include patch-based survey methods, photogrammetry, GIS-based spatial analysis, and using artifact morphology and distribution to assess artifact taphonomy. This has permitted us to develop a diachronic settlement model for the 80 kyr of human occupation in the Polop Alto.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-190
Number of pages36
JournalGeoarchaeology - An International Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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