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ALPO - Alpine Land Use around Obergurgl (Tyrol, Austria) (2010-2011)

In the Inner Ötztal Valley, humans are supposed to have been present since at least 9600 years (archaeological data). Grazing indicator species were recorded at the treeline ecotone by palynological means for the last 6300 years. Thus, the extant landscape in this area is an expression of (pre-)historical and actual land use, driven by ecological and socio-economical constraints. The interdisciplinary project ALPO contributes therefore to the understanding of recent and (pre-)historical land use by means of toponomastic and historical knowledge, by investigating archaeological structures, and by studying present and past vegetation. The locality of Putzach (Obergurgl, Ötztal, Tyrol, Austria; 2300 m a.s.l.) was selected as key research area (i) to clarify the role of past climate and human activities, (ii) to evaluate the diversity changes due to land use changes, and (iii) to correlate microtoponomastic characteristics to archaeological findings and actual vegetation, and to palynological/ archaeobotanical data.

Research Questions

  • Which historical sources are available and what do they tell about microtoponyms (field names) and past land use?
  • Is it possible to relate microtoponymy to actual vegetation?
  • Is it possible to relate old settlements and archaeological data to recent or to past vegetation?
  • Is the reconstructed historical flora and vegetation different from the extant ones?
  • How does plant community composition differ between the historically and the recently used areas?

Funding
Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl (2010-2011)

Personnel involved 

Geobotany:
Roland Mayer
Brigitta Erschbamer
 

Palaeoecology:
Jean Nicolas Haas (project leader)
Thilo Kappelmeyer
Notburga Oeggl-Wahlmüller

Landscape Archaeology:
Alexander Zanesco

Toponymy:
Lorelies Ortner
Rüdiger Kaufmann
Yvonne Kathrein

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