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Wetlands and archaeology

Zones humides et archéologie

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Published on Wednesday, May 10, 2017


From November 9 to 11, 2017, the Research Group on History of Wetlands (GHZH), with the support of the European Archeological Center of the Mont-Beuvray and the Morvan Regional Natural Park, will hold its international conference on Wetlands and Archaeology in order to better understand wetlands through Archaeology. 


Where? At the European Archaeological Center of the Mont-Beuvray - Glux-en-Glenne (Nièvre)

When? November 9-10-11, 2017


From November 9 to 11, 2017, the Research Group on History of Wetlands (GHZH), with the support of the European Archeological Center of the Mont-Beuvray and the Morvan Regional Natural Park, will hold its international conference on Wetlands and Archaeology in order to better understand wetlands through Archaeology. Over the past decades, historians, sociologists, legal experts and geographers have been conducting research on wetlands within vast regional monographs (Bresse, Dombes, etc.). So have archaeologists. In France, Rescue archaeology has been spectacularly developed since the early 1980s and has allowed studying countless areas gathering raw data as well as new “off-site” information: natural cavities (paleo-wetlands, paleo meanders) or anthropogenic (ponds, etc.) leading archaeoscientists (Palynology, Dendrology, macro plant remains) to elaborate new specific markers such as plant and animal bio-indicators or sediments.

These new objects, these “soil productions”, which once were not seen as “classical” Archeology material, have started becoming vectors of landscape and paleo-ecological reconstructions in wetland recognition. Often times considered uniformly repulsive areas, only interesting once drained and organized, archaeological examples, which have been multiplying everywhere, differ and point to the diversity of their diachronic valorization modes, emphasizing the complexity of these areas whether peatlands, coastal wetlands, alluvial valley or plain.

This conference also aims at developing a comparative approach regarding archaeologist research led elsewhere in or outside Europe such as The Netherlands, the British Isles (“Wetland Archaeology Research Project” led for over 30 years at the University of Bradford), Italy, etc.

The conference will focus on the following topics:

1° Methodology: a true interdisciplinary approach

How does Archaeology understand wetlands and overcome water constraints (pumping)?

How does it define wetlands and what are the digging strategies to be used?

Wetlands are key areas in recording precious archaeo-environmental data with accumulated sediments (peat, silt), preserved organic matter (pollens, wood charcoals and macro remains for plants and animals, etc.). The question of sampling must then be raised.

Archaeology requires being able to precisely determine the agent or accumulator factor of the biofacts collected and studied (sedimentary natural trap, waterbird pellets, otter dung, etc.) hence taphonomic methodological research. The quantity of preserved artefacts and biofacts being generally large leads to specific conservation issues outside wetlands and requires technical knowledge quantity such as lyophilization of the Mesolithic canoe of Noyen-sur-Seine.

How do these documentary corpuses renew historical writing? Under what conditions can they clarify the complexity of environmental temporalities?

2° Apparition/extinction, extension/retraction of wetlands

Wetlands are not sustainable.

First, the conditions favoring their apparition must be studied: climate change (e.g.: global warming in the early Holocene), human actions (creation of wetlands to meet a need, drying up, transformations and constructions, etc.). Unseemingly, wetlands are not naturally fixed areas; some are man-made and have been voluntarily or indirectly so since the Neolithic era through modifications in flows by building facilities or by abandoning others.

The pace of these transformations must also be watched such as accelerations or stagnations, reversibility thresholds, their profound change through time, basically the breathing of these areas.

3° Living in wetlands

The habitat of the living: the idea that wetlands are repulsive sites of stagnant waters with unstable and unproductive soils, making them dangerous filthy places is relatively recent. This concept started in the 17th century and intensified in the 18th century with the physiocrats and then the novelists such as G. Sand in France notably for Sologne.

Notwithstanding endemic malaria fevers, wetlands were mostly attractive living areas such as Neolithic and Bronze Age riparian villages or sheltering areas in a time of war. From Scottish and Irish crannogs to the lake habitats of Chalain and Clairvaux (Jura) and later on to agglomerations such as in Birka, Sweden, the numerous discoveries in terms of facilities in these environments show how attractive wetlands were.

These attractive conditions will be developed, the modalities of their occupation − perennial/temporary/seasonal − and through some social groups, the conditions of life as well as what constitutes a wetland and the networks that its occupants were able to set thanks to the material and furniture collected.

The habitat of the dead: the wetlands or their surroundings were occasionally used as burial grounds which was the case in Denmark (men of the peatlands) or for the perfectly preserved
Gallo-Roman lady of the Martres-de-Veyre in the Puy-de-Dôme. These particular cases will be examined.

4° Wetlands: exploiting their production

Men have been exploiting wetlands for thousands of years as they offer a great biological richness favoring a multitude of uses evolving through time and modifying their natural functioning.

As a number of studies showed, wetlands were not marginal areas, whether they were exploited by their local inhabitants or by those residing in “proper” agglomerations, but were indeed, in the same way the woods were, totally integrated in the economy of the finishing. Specifying temporal modalities (temporary, seasonal, etc.), linked to a targeted exploitation of the products or not, remains to be done.

5° The various challenges of contemporary management considering time

Today, wetlands are the result of complex anthropogenic developments. Although since the last third of the 20th century there has been a desire to preserve their biodiversity and natural regulation while reconciling productive activities and tourist attractions, many wetland development projects have been stumbling, not considering the historical dimension of these sites in terms of inheritance, ancient uses and anthropogenic interventions nor the cultural specificity of their societies (isolation, solidarity linked to community practices of water use, etc.).

The threat, whether erosive or economic, still affects archaeological remains and natural environments in wetlands. How can this cultural and ecological heritage be protected? How to reconcile economic development with the conservation of riparian areas? Protective experiments have been successfully carried out and tested in France such as Lake Chalain (Jura) or Lake Bourget (Savoie) and abroad (Swiss lakes, Dutch wetlands).

How to submit

Contributions (speaking cannot excess 20 minutes) or posters must include a brief and clear title, 5 keywords and an abstract (3,200 characters all included, all on 1 page using Word format) potentially with significant subtitles.

English submissions must follow French criteria and must contain a brief abstract in French (1,600 characters all included).

Please, indicate your title, your university or institute, your personal details (including e-mail, phone number and address). Please, send also a brief bio/bibliography with your latest publications.  Please, pick and mention one of the topics featured at the conference.

These submissions must be sent to Corinne Beck, cbeck16@wanadoo.fr and/or to Marie-Christine Marinval, m-c.marinval@wanadoo.fr who will forward them to the scientific committee.

Deadline is June 15, 2017.

The scientific committee will give an answer within the following month. The conference includes meals and accommodation for speakers.

The scientific committee will then discuss the contributions (speaking and posters) to be published either within special issues of scientific journals or in a collective book.

Organizing committee

  • Corinne Beck, université de Valenciennes, EA 4343 CALHISTE, vice-présidente du GHZH
  • Christine Dodelin, chargée de mission au Parc naturel régional du Morvan
  • Sylvain Dournel, université d’Orléans, EA 1210 CEDETE, secrétaire du GHZH
  • Fabrice Grégoire, ENS Lyon, UMR 5600 EVS, trésorier du GHZH
  • Vincent Guichard, directeur du Centre archéologique européen de Bibracte
  • Marie-Christine Marinval, université de Paris I - UMR 7041 ARSCAN, vice-présidente du GHZH
  • Bertrand Sajaloli, université d’Orléans, EA 1210 CEDETE, président du GHZH

Scientific committee

  • Najet Aroua, maître de conférences en urbanisme et environnement, école polytechnique d’architecture et d’urbanisme d’Alger
  • Anne Bridault, chargée de recherche en préhistoire, université Paris-Ouest, UMR 7041 ARSCAN - MAE
  • Dario Canzian, professeur d’histoire, université de Padoue, DISSGeA
  • Laurent Carozza, chargé de recherche archéogéographe, UMR 5602, université Jean Jaurès
  • Hervé Cubizolle, professeur des universités en géographie, université de Saint-Étienne, UMR 5600 EVS
  • Philippe Fajon, archéologue, DRAC Normandie, président du conseil scientifique du PNR des Boucles de la Seine Normande, UMR 7041 ARSCAN - MAE
  • Frank Faucher, archéologue, Service régional de l’archéologie, DRAC Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
  • François Giligny, professeur des universités en histoire de l’art et archéologie, université Paris 1, UMR 8215 Trajectoires - MAE
  • Isabelle Jouffroy-Bapicot, ingénieur d’études palynologue, UMR 6249 Chrono-Environnement, université de Franche-Comté, membre du conseil scientifique du PNR du Morvan
  • Gilles Leroy, archéologue, Service régional de l’archéologie, DRAC Hauts-de-France
  • Laurent Lespez, professeur des universités en géographie, université Paris-Est, UMR 8591 LGP
  • Andrès Molina Gimenez, Directeur de l’Instituto del Agua y de las Ciencias Ambientale, université d’Alicante
  • Joachim Melgarejo, Professeur, Instituto del Agua y de las Ciencias Ambientales, université d’Alicante
  • Gilles Rollier, archéologue, directeur technique et scientifique INRAP Grand Est-Sud
  • Rémy Simonetti, chercheur en histoire, université de Padoue, DISSGeA
  • Philippe Valette, maître de conférences en géographie, université Jean Jaurès, UMR 5602


The registration form, accompanied by the payment (bank or postal check) must be returned by Friday 20 October to Fabrice Grégoire (fabrice.gregoire@orange.fr), Treasurer GHZH, at the following address: Fabrice Grégoire, 5 rue du Château de Derrière, 02320 Cessières (France)


  • Centre archéologique européen du Mont-Beuvray - Mont Beuvray
    Saint-Léger-sous-Beuvray, France (71990)


  • Thursday, June 15, 2017


  • zone humide, archéologie


  • Corinne Beck
    courriel : cbeck16 [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Sylvain Dournel
    courriel : sylvain [dot] dournel [at] univ-orleans [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Wetlands and archaeology », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, https://doi.org/10.58079/xle

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