2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 95-3
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM


CORRÒ, Elisa, Humanistic studies, University Ca' Foscari of Venice, Venice, 30123, Italy, MOINE, Cecilia, Humanistic studies, Università Ca' Foscari of Venice, Dorsoduro 3246, Venice, 30123, Italy and PRIMON, Sandra, Venice, 30123, Italy, elisa.corro@gmail.com

Today the area of Mira, near Venice, appears as an intensively cultivated area, which overlooks directly the edge of the lagoon. This exceptional landscape outcomes from reiterated and intrusive human activities, started in the 12thcentury, when a branch of the huge river Brenta was deflected.

This work aims to reenact the geological dynamics in action from the Middle Ages to these days from the point of views of Saint Ilario abbey and its surrounding area. The presence of the monastery, one of the most important dogal religious community of Venetian area from the 9th century, allowed us to recover a huge amount of information, concerning changes of landscape, rivers and settlements.

Contemporary appearance of Venice countryside is the result of a relatively fast transformation. Most significant and deepest changes occurred in a little range of time (from the Late Middle Ages until now). Single modifications are hard to distinguish and specify applying only geological instruments. Our research has been undertaken coordinating field works, archaeological and geological information, medieval and modern archive data. This multidisciplinary approach allowed to investigate the transition from a stable situation, to an eternally changeable state, from which started a never ending conflict between human needs and natural trends. Moreover, analysis of written sources and archaeological data allowed us to specify chronologies of landscape transformations, linking them to human activities and underlining the complex interaction between a changing landscape and its exploitation.

What distinctly emerges from our case study is the significant role of human activities in environmental changes, even in the pre-industrial past. Reclamation, river deflections or embankment buildings often reach uncomplete or unexpected results. In the end, the ultimate consequence is a completely artificial landscape, considered natural by local communities in the total forgetfulness of human interventions.

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