Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/64172
Title: Chapter 9 : locating potential pastoral foraging routes in Malta through the use of a Geographic Information System
Other Titles: Temple landscapes : fragility, change and resilience of Holocene environments in the Maltese Islands
Authors: Alberti, Gianmarco
Grima, Reuben
Vella, Nicholas C.
Keywords: Geographic information systems -- Malta
Geographic information systems -- Research
Subsistence hunting -- Malta -- History
Hunting and gathering societies -- Malta -- History
Landscapes -- Malta
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Citation: Alberti, G., Grima, R., & Vella, N. C. (2020). Chapter 9 : locating potential pastoral foraging routes in Malta through the use of a Geographic Information System. In: C. French, C. O. Hunt, R. Grima, R. McLaughlin, S. Stoddart & C. Malone, Temple landscapes : fragility, change and resilience of Holocene environments in the Maltese Islands. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 267-283.
Abstract: The study presented in this chapter aims to complement the earlier GIS study of nineteenth century ad land-use of the islands of Gozo and Malta by Alberti et al. (2018) by adding another dimension to the reconstruction of the human exploitation of the landscape, and thus provide a better understanding of the agricultural potential and productivity of the Maltese landscape. It locates potential pastoral foraging routes across the landscape with the aid of a Geographic Information System. While the method and procedures used to accomplish this goal are detailed in the following section, the availability of a model of agricultural productivity of the land on the one hand, and a repertoire of evidence directly and indirectly related to pastoral movements across the island (such as the location of the garrigue areas, public spaces and farmhouses with animal pens) provided sufficient grounds to undertake this research. This approach was meant both to enrich the interpretation of evidence dating to earlier/pre-modern periods and to suggest a range of archaeological and anthropological questions as well as new avenues of inquiry driven by the results of analyses of a better documented (however recent) period. Modelling of the agricultural quality in Malta on the basis of the data provided by mid-1800s cadastral maps (cabrei) showed that the Maltese landscape is a complex patchwork as far as its suitability for human economic exploitation is concerned (Alberti et al. 2018). The analysis made it evident that there is a wide variability in land quality, even over small distances, because of a complex interplay between different natural and cultural factors, resulting in a fragmented and variable landscape. The modelled agricultural suitability also showed that a considerably large part of Malta is unlikely to have been optimal for agriculture during the early modern period. This holds true for the thin-soiled and scrub-covered karstland (or garrigue areas; in Maltese: moxa and xagħri) which features as a relatively large part of the Maltese landscape, such as the flat-topped Upper Coralline Limestone plateaus in the west-central part of the island. It has been observed that farmhouses with animal pens, as well as public spaces or wasteland, are located at the very fringe of (and/or amongst) these uncultivated areas. It has also been stressed that this apparently unproductive landscape has been turned into an important part of the agrarian economy. Importantly, the uncultivated areas provided (and to an extent still provide) grazing grounds for sheep and goats, quarried stone for construction, brushwood for fuel, as well as herbs, greens, wild game and flowering plants for bee pasture (Blouet 1963; Forbes 1996; Lang 1961; Rolé 2007; Wettinger 1982).
URI: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/64172
Appears in Collections:Temple landscapes: Fragility, change and resilience of Holocene environments in the Maltese Islands

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