“(Peri-)glacial environments and the populations’ strategies”


Olivier BIGNON-LAUArScAn : Archéologies et Sciences de l’Antiquité (UMR 7041)
Olivier MOINELGP : Laboratoire de Géographie Physique (UMR 8591)


The Quaternary is characterised by an alternation of glacial periods and interglacial periods, which are frequently shorter. Over the last 300,000 years, therefore, fauna and flora settlements and Eurasian and North American human societies evolved primarily in cold environments in periglacial areas.

This LabEx DynamiTe Work-Package (WP) sets out to characterise and date, as best possible, environmental variability during the last three glacial phases and make detailed comparisons with the contemporary changes that occurred in the animal communities, and the strategies adopted by the human groups with regard to occupation of the territory and economy of materials.

As well as paleoenvironmental studies involving specialists in the various components of (peri-)glacial sedimentary environments (permafrost, loess, settlements, glaciers, climate, etc.), the WP includes prehistorians (technology, economy, lifestyle, etc.). It also includes specialists in the current cold physical environments (river systems, mountain slopes, glaciers, etc.) and ethnologists (economy, occupation of space, etc.) to bolster the development of reference bases necessary for interpretations.

An integrative approach is therefore used to understand the specific features of paleoenvironments’ response to climate fluctuations, along with the strategies that enabled fauna settlements and European and North American human settlements (Neanderthal and Sapiens) to persist in these environments (cultural changes, settlement dynamics). To this end, the WP investigates these cold environments as demanding territories that are nevertheless suitable for life, and studies current reference bases to gain a better understanding of the changes in the past.

The combined use of methods drawn from geomorphology, paleoenvironments, glaciology, geoarchaeology and archaeology promotes a better understanding of the complexity and diversity of the ties between man, the ecological communities and the landscapes.


Paleolithic, settlements, societies, lifestyles, resources, material culture, flows, paleoethnography, cryosphere, ice caps, glaciers, permafrost, slopes, snow, hazards.

Research fields:

Quaternary sedimentary formations:

  • loessic deposits on the European Plain;
  • alluvial deposits, valley terraces and bottoms in Western Europe.

Geomorphology (glacial systems):

  • France (Massif Central, Pyrenees, Alps, Vosges, Corsica);
  • Poland (northern plain, Tatras);
  • Norway (Lyngen fjord);
  • Russia (Karelia, Kola Peninsula);
  • Kyrgystan (Tien Shan);
  • Greenland (Sisimiut, Disko Bay);
  • Canada (Nain Bay).

Geomorphology (landslides):

  • Iceland (Norðurland vestra).

Archaeological sites:

  • France (Paris basin: Amiens-Renancourt 1 and 2, Chézy, Etiolles,Etricourt-Manancourt, Havrincourt 1 and 2, Ormesson, Pincevent; Saône valley: Lans, Solutré);
  • Belgium (Meuse basin: Maisières-Canal);
  • Romania (eastern Carpathians: Poiana Cireșului);
  • United States (central Alaska: Little Panguingue Creek, McDonald Creek);
  • United States (North Alaskan coastline: Cape Espenberg);
  • Russia (Siberia: Irkutsk oblast, lower Vitim valley: Kovrizhka).

Current system:

  • Eastern Siberia (Lena river);
  • Russia (Siberia: Love oblast: ethnoarchaeology with Evenks groups: traditional techniques, exploitation of natural resources, mobility).


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