Landscapes, Archaeology, and the History of the Commons

Organisers: Karl-Johan Lindholm (Uppsala), Anna Maria Stagno and Vittorio Tigrino

During the early modern and modern periods, forms of common management of natural resources had a crucial role in the history of rural landscape. Commons indicate a category of “traditional” goods (meadows, pastures, woods, etc.) used by communities and maintained by principles of cooperative management or joint ownership. From the perspective of the social sciences, commons are multi-functional dynamic resources with strong adaptive and innovative capacities, and, from an historical point of view, they were important in rural and agricultural settings until the end of old regime. Strongly criticized, starting from the end of 18th century, and considered as obstacles for economic and modern development, they conserved their importance, in some cases, until the 20th c.  Starting from the consideration that the exercise of common rights on lands were crucial in shaping rural landscapes, and that the evidence of such management is still visible, the aim of this panel is to discuss, in a multidisciplinary perspective, how is it possible to analyse the material (environmental and archaeological) effects of that management?  The study of the material and jurisdictional dimension which characterizes the topic could be one of the main subjects for the landscape archaeology of rural and mountain areas, and could permit archaeology to have a crucial role in this important debate in the social sciences.  The panel offers a forum for discussion and comparison of historical and archaeological perspectives (also case studies are welcome), and to discuss how it is possible to archaeologically identify and investigate commons and their dynamism in a long-term perspective.

Contact: Karl-Johan Lindholm

List of Papers

Karl-Johan Lindholm (Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University): Living on the Rural Edge (LoRE): The Biocultural Heritage of Commons and Communal Livelihoods

Eugene Costello (Department of Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway): Summer Pastures in Post-Medieval Ireland: Access, Control and Cooperation

Anneli Ekblom (Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University) & Lindsey Gillson: Biodiversity Management and Commons in Africa

Vittorio Tigrino (Università del Piemonte Orientale), Maria Rocca & Alessandro Panetta: Common Resources, Settlements and “Locality Patterns”: Archival and Archaeological Sources for the History of Political Spaces (XVIIth-XXth c.)

Ronan O’Donnel (Department of Archaeology, Durham University): Almost a Common But Not Quite: Questioning How Archaeology Should Approach Commons

Anna Maria Stagno (Research Group on Cultural Heritage and Landscape, University of the Basque Country), Alessandro Panetta (Laboratory of Environmental Archaeology and History, University of Genoa), Valentina Pescini, Christine Rendu & Carlos Tejerizo García: Reconstructing the Historical Dimension of Commons: A Multidisciplinary Approach for the Study of Historical Forms of Land Appropriation. First results of a project in southern Europe mountains

List of Posters

Beatrice Palmero (Università del Piemonte Orientale): The “Short Range” Transhumance Trails: Common Resources and Jurisdictional Findings for the History of AlpineLlandscape