ERC RurLand (Rural Landscape in north-eastern Roman Gaul, dir. M. Reddé – Director of Studies at the EPHE)

The European project RurLand (2014-2017) aims to study the Rural Landscape in North and Eastern Gaul from the beginning of La Tène D1 to the end of the fifth century AD. Focusing on the Roman period, the project examines the long-term evolution of the rural world with its protohistoric antecedents and its mutations during Late Antiquity. The initial hypothesis is that the incorporation of the regions of eastern Gaul into the Roman Empire did not standardise economic and social conditions, but rather accentuated and accelerated processes of spatial differentiation, which were already perceptible before the Conquest. Many regions (the Rhône-Saône-Moselle corridor and the border regions, for example) took full advantage of Roman inputs (territorial development, economic benefits of the presence of the administration and the military) to initiate or continue economic development at a sustained pace, in different ways in different territories. However, it is equally important to understand why other sectors remained on the outskirts of this movement.

Based on GIS, the project intends to integrate multiple approaches and very different yet complementary sources, in nature and purpose, which are rarely studied together: archaeological excavations in the strict sense of the term, particularly those resulting from the most recent preventive archaeology operations, the study of the various components of all kinds of rural settlements; carpology, bone material, pedological maps, aerial photographs, LIDAR data, so as to promote a multi-scalar approach to the region under consideration, from sites to territories. The ultimate aim is to understand the spatial and historical dynamics of the rural world during this ancient period. The RurLand project brings together foreign researchers (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg) directly concerned by this spatial approach to rural territories in Antiquity.

The UMR 8215 (F. Malrain…) is involved in several levels of this project:

  • – passing on experience and expertise on how to build a national database. This step has resulted in active participation in the creation of a database encompassing a wide chronological range (from the second century BC to the fifth century AD).
  • – participation in an international workshop with a synthesis of the results acquired by the investigation of the rural habitat during the Second Iron Age, coordinated by F. Malrain together with G. Blancquaert and T. Lorho. An article was published online: Méthodes d’analyse des différents paysages ruraux dans le nord-est de la Gaule Romaine.
  • – the contribution to a study on the monetarisation of the countryside in Gaul, following a proposal by Stéphane Martin and in collaboration with T. Lorho. The article from this round table will shortly appear in the Scripta Antiqua collection published by Ausonius.
    Work is currently being carried out on one of the workshop areas defined as part of this programme, in the Oise. In this context, F. Malrain with M. Demuylder and D. Maréchal are studying the evolution of land use over eight centuries in the middle valley of the Oise and its margins.

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