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The Wood as Time Machine: interdisciplinary approach to study post-medieval human-environment interactions where Atlantic meets the Mediterranean


Centuries-long societal relations uniting Euro-African territories have modulated the forest history. Grazing and use of wood as an essential material have led to overexploitation of woodlands with lagged environmental problems like deforestation, severe flooding, encroaching deserts and declining ecosystems productivity. These human-environment interactions are well presented in the centre of these linkages, the Strait of Gibraltar, where the legacy of such history has survived in millennial forests and timber in archaeological sites or historical buildings. The project's objectives are: 1) to characterize historical exploitation of forests and its relation with the past forest dynamics using dendrochronology in ancient Andalusian and Moroccan forests 2) to explore the potential of deriving post-medieval ecological and societal changes from archaeological and historical timber 3) to apply emerging proxies (wood traits, DNA, chemical composition) to develop novel tools for identification of timber origin that may explain past human-environment interactions. To achieve these objectives, the project will be implemented in three stages: 1) Collection of ancient trees samples in Baetic mountains and Moroccan Rif and Atlas to analyse the forest history and unlock the wooden archive containing the key for understanding the historical exploitation of resources. Tree-growth chronologies and wood traits will be estimated by wood scanning and measurement of tree-ring widths. 2) The legacy of forest history and wood trade between trans-Mediterranean continents will be analysed through multi-century ring series preserved in archaeological and post-medieval historical wood material. Old buildings will be explored to analyse wood origin in relation to the magnitude of historical use of forests. 3) Application of a battery of novel techniques (blue intensity, wood anatomy, elemental composition and stable isotopes) for developing a new timber provenancing tool – dendroscapes.

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


Carretera De Utrera Km 1
41013 Sevilla
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 172 932,48