DR. ARNALD PUY, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany, received a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Building Up Intensive Labor Areas: Terraces, Irrigation and Agrarian Change in the Ricote Valley (Murcia, Spain) after 711 AD.' Several irrigated-terraced fields were built in al-Andalus (Iberian Peninsula) after the arrival of tribes and clans of Arab and Berber origin in 711 AD. These agrarian areas were the platform for the introduction and adaptation of plant species from monsoonal climates into the medieval West. Many of them are still in use today, being among the most productive, resilient and sustainable agricultural areas in Europe. However, their construction timing and building processes are still unknown, and little information is available regarding their impact on the pre-existing environments. This project aimed at tackling these issues through trenching and sampling buried soils below the Andalusian irrigated terraces of Ricote (SE Spain). Results indicated that Andalusian groups were able to transform into intensive agrarian fields a highly heterogeneous terrain formed by Calcisols and seasonally waterlogged Planosols. The age of the youngest organic matter embedded in the topmost horizon of the buried soils assembled around cal. 989-1210 AD, suggesting that the construction of the Ricote irrigated terraces took place between the 10th-13th centuries AD. This period was characterized in al-Andalus by the apogee of the Andalusi state and the publication of many treatises on irrigated agriculture.
Puy, Arnald. 2016. Radiocarbon Dating of Agrarian Terraces By Means of Buried Souls. Radiocarbon 1-19. Published online.