Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fieldwork 2

Second Fieldwork Campaing

The second fieldwork campaing of the EthWAL project was carried out in July and August

The first phase took place in the Val Maudagna (Cuneo province, Italy). With the help of Giovanni Comino (major of Frabosa Sottana), Gianni Dulbecco (www.frabosasottana.com) and the two veterinaries Gian Piero Rinaudo and Irma Bovolo (ASL Mondovì), I visited the pastures around Prato Nevoso and Artesina and I started to record all the pastoral structures in the upland landscape (using an handheld GPS). Several structures have been identified and recorded, and they have been divided in two categories: huts (casòt in the local dialect) where the herders (marghé) live during the summer and produce cheese; cellars (selle) where the herders stock the cheese for maturing. Some of these structures are still exploited by herders during the summer.

Two huts (casòt) near the Brignola lake (Val Maudagna, Cuneo province, Italy)

Cellar (sella) in the Val Brignola (Val Maudagna, Cuneo province, Italy)

Some herders have been interviewed during this research period, and they provided fundamental information for the comprehension of pastoral upland management and traditional rural structures and landscapes. Interesting data about traditional cheese making, building techniques and spatial patterns have also been collected. Besides, the veterinary office of Mondovì provided important documents related to milk exploitation and processing.

The second phase has been carried out in the Vallée de Freissiniéres. Using a handheld GPS, several seasonal structures have been recorded in different upland areas of the valley (Faravel, Pont de Fer, Fangeas, etc.). These structures are mainly dry-stone huts, but rock-shelters and enclosures have also been identified and recorded. All these structures have been used in recent periods (18th, 19th, 20th century), but none is still used nowadays. In order to understand how they were built, exploited and abandoned, I interviewed (with the precious help of Laura Fossati) some retired herders and farmers that still live in the valley. The information provided by these herders and farmers were significant for correlating the use and abandonment of the recorded structures with the evolution of upland management in this valley. Furthermore, some old pubblications concerning the economic activities of this area seem to confirm the information obtained from the interviews. Four different strategies have been identified for the late 19th and early 20th century: short transhumance of dairying cattle; short transhumance of non-dairying sheep and goats; long transhumance of non-dairying sheep and goats; hay-making. In the 21st century only short and long transhumance of non-dairying sheep and goats is still undertaken.

Dry-stone hut built under a rock-shelter (Fangeas, Vallée de Freissinieres, Dept. des Hautes-Alpes, France)

Dry-stone hut near the Fangeas lake (Vallée de Freissinieres, Dept. des Hautes-Alpes, France)

The third and last phase has been the topographic survey of some huts (casot) still exploited by the herders in the high altitudes of Val Maudagna. Four structures have been selected in the Val della Brignola, a small upland valley. The herder that still exploits this grazing area has been interviewed, in order to know exactly how the huts are used and managed. With the help of Federico Panighel, a student of civil engineering at the University of Trieste (Italy), the selected structures have been surveyed using a total station. The walls and the internal spatial organisation (furnitures, heart, etc.) have been surveyed, and the dispersion of material culture within the huts have been mapped too, in order to enable specific spatial analysis and to investigate the relationships between activities and archaeological record within seasonal sites. Soil samples have also been taken inside the surveyed huts, and other huts and cellars have been positioned using an handheld GPS.

Topographical survey of a hut (casòt)

Federico, the total station and me!

The next phases will be the analysis and interpretation of all the collected data. Historical archives and libraries will be also visited, in order to acquire further historical information about the studied area and the recorded structures.

The last fieldwork activities will be carried out in September. The next update will be online at the end of next month!