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Late Holocene environmental change at Castelporziano

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posted on 20.10.2010, 09:03 by Fiona S.J. Brown
The Mediterranean has long been recognised as an area that is particularly sensitive to climate change. It is also an area that has been impacted by human activity for millennia. Disentangling climatic and anthropogenic influences on the history of vegetation change in the Mediterranean remains an important challenge. As a contribution to this ongoing debate, this thesis explores the late Holocene environment of part of the coast in Central Italy using a multiproxy approach to investigate the archives of change preserved in dune slack deposits. Distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic signals presents a real challenge in most environmental reconstruction work; however, due to the extensive archaeological research carried out at Castelporziano, it is possible to examine human-environmental interactions in some detail. In order to understand these interactions part of the thesis examines how management has affected recent environmental changes and the current vegetation and whether there is a legacy of Roman landuse at the Castelporziano estate. The key findings of the thesis showed that dune slacks are suitable for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction with proxies such as plant macrofossils, ostracods, molluscs and bryozoans statoblasts. However, the pH and seasonality of the slacks meant proxies such as pollen were badly preserved or absent, and diatoms did not preserve due to the high levels of carbonate on site. Overall the results show the impact of the Romans on site in terms of localised eutrophication and increased fires, but with abandonment, came the formation of wet woodlands.



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment


© Fiona Sarah Jane Brown

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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