“Environmental changes and societies in the past”


Nicole LIMONDIN-LOZOUETLGP : Laboratoire de Géographie Physique (UMR 8591)
Zoï TSIRTSONIArScAn : Archéologies et Sciences de l’Antiquité (UMR 7041)


The Work-Package (WP) “Environmental changes and societies in the past” is structured around three research focus areas:

1) Environmental changes at different time scales and spatial scales:

  • their extent and their role in the evolution of human societies of the past, during periods of expansion and periods of crisis alike (identification and influence of rapid climate change events);
  • man’s role in these changes (man-environment interaction).

2) The development and use of new paleo-indicators to record these changes.

3) The organisation of territories in the past and natural resource management in the short, medium and long term:

  • environmental aspect of the territories (geographical structuring, anthropisation, resource potential, evolution as a result of changes made by human or natural action);
  • highlight the road and plot networks, and understand their role in the organisation of rural landscapes, including in the long term (transmission of forms, resilience or change).

The time frame is very broad, stretching from prehistory (Early Pleistocene) up to the modern era (Little Ice Age) and even the contemporary period.

The investigation methods include field research (geophysical prospecting, soil surveys, core sampling, excavations) and laboratory research (analyses of sediments and their content, including biological content, dating), as well as the study of archives and the processing of spatial imagery data (satellite photos and LiDAR technology). Major methodological advances are achieved or leveraged by WP members.


Paleoenvironments, environments, environmental dynamics, anthropisation, paleo-indicators, natural resources, structuring of territories, road networks, plot networks, economic systems, spatial resolution, chronological resolution, temporalities, crises, human societies of the past.

Research fields:

The WP’s geographical scope encompasses all of the continents, but activities are more sustained in the following countries and regions:

  • Europe: France (in particular the Nord, Île-de-France, Normandie, Centre, Mediterranean seaboard), Belgium, Germany, Spain, Greece (in particular Northern Greece and Crete), Bulgaria;
  • Africa: Maghreb (in particular Morocco), Senegal;
  • Asia: Turkey (in particular Central Anatolia), Arabian Peninsula, Indonesia;
  • America: North America (Alaska), Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras) and South America (Peru);
  • French Southern and Antarctic Territories (Kerguelen Islands).


Articles in international and national peer-reviewed scientific journals:

  • BIGNON-LAU O., CATZ N., BERLIOZ E., VEIBERG V., STRAND O., MERCERON G., 2017. Dental microwear textural analyses to track feeding ecology of reindeer: a comparison of two contrasting populations in Norway, Mammal Research 62:111–120 — doi: 10.1007/s13364-016-0304-y
  • CANUTO M.A., ESTRADA-BELLI F., GARRISON T.G., HOUSTON S.D., ACUÑA M.J., KOVÁČ M., MARKEN D., NONDÉDÉO Ph., AULD-THOMAS L., CASTANET C., CHATELAIN D., CHIRIBOGA C.R., DRÁPELA T., LIESKOVSKÝ T., TOKOVININE A., VELASQUEZ A., FERNÁNDEZ-DIAZ J.C., SHRESTHA R., 2018. Ancient lowland Maya complexity as revealed by airborne laser scanning of Northern Guatemala. Science 361 : 6409. — http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6409/eaau0137
  • CHABOT Y., GARNIER A., GERIA I.M., 2018. Phytolith analysis from the archaeological site of Kota Cina (North Sumatra, Indonesia). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 20, 483-501. — https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.04.033
  • CHABOT Y., LIMONDIN-LOZOUET N., LE DREZEN Y., PERRET D., GARNIER A., SURACHMAN H., & GERIA I.M., 2017. Interactions hommes-milieux en zone humide côtière tropicale : la séquence Holocène du site de Kota Cina (Sumatra Nord, Indonésie). Quaternaire, 28 (3): 353-372. – https://journals.openedition.org/quaternaire/8287
  • CHRISTOL A., WUSCHER P., GOEPFERT N., MOGOLLON S., BÉAREZ P., GUTIÉRREZ B., CARRÉ M., 2016. The Las Salinas palaeo-lagoon in the Sechura Desert (Peru): Evolution during the last two millennia. The Holocene. — doi: 10.1177/0959683616646182 (version papier datée de 2017, The Holocene 27/1, 26-38).
  • DUSSOL L., M. ELLIOTT, D. MICHELET, P. NONDÉDÉO, 2017. Ancient Maya sylviculture of breadnut (Brosimum alicastrum) and sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) at Naachtun (Guatemala): a reconstruction based on charcoal analysis. Quaternary International 457: 29-42. – http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.10.014
  • DUSSOL L., ELLIOTT M., THÉRY-PARISOT I., 2017. Experimental anthracology: evaluating the role of combustion processes in the representivity of archaeological charcoal records in tropical forests, a case study from the Maya Lowlands. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 12: 480-490. — http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.02.020
  • DUSSOL L., SION J., NONDÉDÉO P. 2019. Late fire ceremonies and abandonment behaviors at the Classic Maya city of Naachtun, Guatemala. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 56. — https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2019.101099
  • GOEPFERT N., BÉAREZ P., CHRISTOL A., GUTIÉRREZ B., WUSCHER P., 2014. The fishermen of Sechura: excavations at a specialized site from the Early Intermediate Period, extreme Northern Peru. Antiquity 340. http://journal.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/goepfert340
  • LEMER L., GAUTHIER A., LESPEZ L., ROUHAUD L., BEAUCHAMP A., MOKADEM F., BOUILLON E., 2018. Impact de l’anthropisation dans les marais du Cotentin : le marais de la Sangsurière (Manche, Normandie). Revue scientifique Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Nature, Hors-série 16: 194-204.
  • MICHELET D., NONDÉDÉO P. 2018. Ancient Maya Lowlands: from fake feuds about “urbanism” to renewed studies of settlement patterns. Origini, Prehistory and Protohistory of Ancient Civilizations XLII (special issue in memory of Robert McC. ADAMS, Rethinking urbanization and its living landscape from the inspiring perspective of a Great “Maestro”, edited by Marcella FRANGIPANE and Linda R. MANZANILLA): 259-278.
  • PRUD’HOMME C., LÉCUYER C., ANTOINE P., MOINE O., HATTÉ C., FOUREL F., MARTINEAU F., ROUSSEAU D.D. 2016. Palaeotemperature reconstruction during the Last Glacial from δ18O of earthworm calcite granules from Nussloch loess sequence, Germany. Earth Planetary Sciences Letter, 442: 13-20. — doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2016.02.045
  • PRUD’HOMME C., LÉCUYER C., ANTOINE P., MOINE O., HATTÉ C., FOUREL F., AMIOT A., MARTINEAU F., ROUSSEAU D.D., 2017. δ13C signal of earthworm calcite granules: A new proxy for palaeoprecipitation reconstructions during the Last Glacial in western Europe. Quaternary Science Reviews, 179: 158-166. — doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.11.017
  • PRUD’HOMME C., MOINE O., MATHIEU J., SAULNIER COPARD S., ANTOINE P. 2019. High‐resolution quantification of earthworm calcite granules from western European loess sequences reveals stadial–interstadial climatic variability during the Last Glacial, BOREAS 48,1: 257-268.— doi:10.1111/bor.12359
  • TESTÉ M., GARNIER A., LIMONDIN-LOZOUET N., OXLAJ E., CASTANET C., PURDUE L., LEMONNIER E., DUSSOL L., NONDÉDÉO Ph. 2019. The phytoliths of Naachtun (Petén, Guatemala): Development of a modern reference for the characterization of plant communities in the Maya Tropical Lowlands. Review of Paleobotany and Palynology 272 (paper version dated January 2020) — doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2019.104130

Special issue:

  • GILIGNY F., TSIRTSONI Z. (coord.) 2015. Environnement et sociétés. Nouvelles de l’archéologie n° 142, Paris : Éditions de la Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 63 p. — https://nda.revues.org/3152


  • GOEPFERT N., VÁSQUEZ S., CLÉMENT C., CHRISTOL A. (eds), 2016. Las sociedades andinas frente a los cambios pasados y actuales: dinamicas territoriales, crisis, fronteras y movilidad. Lima : IFEA-Labex DynamiTe-UNT.
  • TSIRTSONI Z., KUZUCUOĞLU C., NONDÉDÉO Ph., WELLER O. (eds.), sous presse. Different times? Archaeological and environmental data from intra-site and off-site sequences : actes de la Session au XVIIIe Congrès mondial de l’UISPP, Paris, 9/6/2018. Oxford : Archaeopress.

Books’ chapters:

  • NONDÉDÉO Ph., LEMONNIER E., HIQUET J., PURDUE L., CASTANET C. sous presse. Shaping Maya Urban Settlement and Land-Use Dynamics At Naachtun. In: The Flexible Maya City: Attraction, Contraction, and Planning in Lowland Urban Dynamics edited by Damien B. MARKEN and M. Charlotte ARNAULD. Louisville: University Press of Colorado.