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Debating Deltas: The early medieval river mouth’s historical ecologies (6th-10th centuries AD). An interdisciplinary and comparative approach


This project will pursue an interdisciplinary methodology to analyse how and why the early medieval European deltas became primary gateways for interaction between sea and inland territories, and how they influenced the new socio-economic scenario after the fall of the Roman economic system. I will compare two Mediterranean cases, the Rhone and the Po deltas, with the North Sea cases of the Rhine and Elbe deltas between the 6th-10th centuries AD. Historical document and archaeological analyses in one of the most-active research clusters of early medieval Europe (UrbNet) will be paired for the first time in these areas with new cutting-edge remote-sensing technologies and network modelling analysis, allowing to: a) reconstruct the early medieval delta’s landscape; b) understand how deltas’ environment influenced the form and development of socio-economic networks; c) assess what kind of impact people and goods had on deltas and related societies; and d) identify and, possibly, define a ‘delta identity’ establishing a new research trend.
De.ltas through its interdisciplinary approach and the support of leading scholars in both archaeological (Sindbæk) and landscape (Kristiansen) analysis of wetland environments, has the potential to highlight the crucial socio-political and economic role of interaction in delta areas, reassessing the opinion of an early medieval socio-economic stagnation in the Mediterranean in this phase. Moreover, the case-study areas, at the borders of the post-Roman ‘European Union’ under the Franks, will allow me to investigate the permeability of delta societies engaging with migration, cultural integration and self-definition, and the anthropic interaction with climate change and environmental threats which are pressing contemporary issues. Finally, this project will fill a research gap concerning the development of early medieval socio-economic systems linked to river deltas, an overdue research question not yet fully tackled.


Net EU contribution
€ 214 934,40
8000 Aarhus C

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Danmark Midtjylland Østjylland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data