Kevin Walsh

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2016/2017
discipline Archaeology
Senior Lecturer in Landscape Archaeology, University of York

Research project

Human-Environment Interactions in Mediterranean Mountains: A Case Study in Characterising the Anthropocene


The proposed project, Human-environment interactions in Mediterranean Mountains: A case study in characterising the Anthropocene, builds on research where I co-direct international multidisciplinary teams that combines humanities and natural sciences in mountain Archaeology and Historical Ecology.


Recently, many scientists have accepted the notion of an Anthropocene—a period when environmental systems are dominated by human influences, or when human activity has a significant effect on the environment. One fundamental area of debate is when this period started. This proposed project will examine published and unpublished data from four different Mediterranean Mountainous areas. Whilst reference would be made to work carried out by the applicant in the Alps, this project will engage with new data from; i) Corsica, ii) Crete, and iii) Atlas mountains (Tunisia).


The premise for this project is that that certain landscapes have been more susceptible to human influence than other landscapes. Mediterranean landscapes, and in particular, Mediterranean mountains, are some of the most sensitive environments globally—mountain landscapes are especially sensitive to both climate change and human activity. However, even where we can demonstrate that people and/or climate have caused environmental degradation, it is apparent that many mountain communities across the Mediterranean have developed resilient socio-economic strategies. These strategies have often restricted the extent to which some mountain landscapes have passed non-reversible "tipping points", i.e. a point when an earth system is highly susceptible to degradation that can be caused by only a small change in that system.


More specifically, this project would assess the chronology of the key phases of human exploitation of high altitude environments across a sample of Mediterranean mountains in terms of (i) the nature of these phases of exploitation (i.e. types of economic activity), (ii) the evidence for climatic or anthropogenic impact on the environment, and (iii) the evolution of forms of human management strategies that have mitigated environmental problems. This will allow the analysis of different trends in environmental change, human activity and exploitation of the chosen mountain ranges. This analysis would be situated within a historical ecological framework, which would explicitly avoid monocausal explanations (e.g. relating changes in human activity to changes in climate).




Kevin Walsh is Senior Lecturer in Landscape Archaeology at the University of York. He holds a Ph.D in Landscape Archaeology from the University of Leicester. His core chronological interests cover the early to middle Holocene (from the Mesolithic through to the Bronze Age). More specifically, as a landscape archaeologist, with a background in Geoarchaeology, his research considers the variation in human interaction with, and impacts on the environment, and responses to environmental change. The geographical context for this research is firmly situated within the northern Mediterranean and the Alps.


Selected publications


The Archaeology of Mediterranean Landscapes: Human-Environment Interaction from the Neolithic to the Roman Period, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2014.


'A Historical Ecology of the Ecrins (Southern French Alps): Archaeology and Palaeoecology of the Mesolithic to the Medieval Period', with M. Court-Picon et al., Quaternary International, vol. 353, 2014, pp. 52-73.


'The Pontine Marshes (Central Italy): A Case Study in Wetland Historical Ecology', with P. Attema & T. De Haas, BABESCH, vol. 89, 2014, pp. 27-46.


'Mobility in the Mountains: Late Third and Second Millennia Alpine Societies’ Engagements with the High-Altitude Zones in the Southern French Alps', with F. Mocci, European Journal of Archaeology, vol. 14, 2011, pp. 88-115.


'Mediterranean Landscape Archaeology: Marginality and the Culture-Nature Divide', Landscape Research, vol. 33, 2008, pp. 547-564.



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
IMéRA, Aix-Marseille Institute for Advanced Study
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
IMéRA, Aix-Marseille Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Philosophy
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
IMéRA, Aix-Marseille Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Linguistics
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
IMéRA, Aix-Marseille Institute for Advanced Study
discipline History