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The shaping of water : interactions between landscape, exploitation of water and settlement in the medieval western Alps

Abstract : The study of hydraulic workshops can provide a privileged point of view on resource management, settlement dynamics and power relations in ancient communities. This paper offers a summary of studies, including interdisciplinary analysis that has integrated written and material sources, carried out in different valleys of the western Alps from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, focusing on medieval hydraulic plants: cereals, oil and hemp mills, as well as forges, fulling and paper mills. The results of this study are encouraging and testify how, even in areas that are historically considered as marginal, the waterways were the engine of a lively economic life otherwise elusive to the scrutiny of researchers. Mountain streams thus acquire a double role: enemies of the settlements, due to their capricious flow and the risk of floods, but also allies, able to free pre-industrial production from the slavery of muscle power. This dichotomy can still be read in the alpine landscape where the present-day settlements still choose dry places, but the roads and small production centres look for the most convenient banks of rivers and streams.
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https://hal-inrap.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03450170
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Submitted on : Thursday, November 25, 2021 - 7:56:06 PM
Last modification on : Friday, November 26, 2021 - 3:45:47 AM

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  • HAL Id : hal-03450170, version 1

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Luca Mario Nejrotti. The shaping of water : interactions between landscape, exploitation of water and settlement in the medieval western Alps. 27th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), Christian-Albrechts - Universität zu Kiel, Sep 2021, Kiel (Virtual), Germany. ⟨hal-03450170⟩

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