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Thaw in Swiss Alps reveals more than 7000 years agriculture and grazing

Thaw in Swiss Alps reveals more than 7000 years agriculture and grazing

From 8000 to about 4500 years ago, the climate in this part of Europe was warmer, which allowed the retreat of the glaciers and the enlargement of many green areas that later became covered with ice in a renewed cooling. What caused the warming of the past? It is not yet clear, but it was very localized and not generalized to the entire continent.

If anyone counted before that there were inhabitants in the lower Valais of Switzerland who used to take their animals to graze the Bernese Oberland Pass, 2,756 meters above sea level, two days away, where they were cornered at night As was done until recently, it would have been dismissed as speculation, but now clear evidence has been found, highlighted a recent study published in the journal Quaternary International.

Evidence shows that the rugged lands of lower Valais in Switzerland were populated, but did not produce enough feed. For this reason it was cultivated in the Bernese Oberland, 2,756 meters above sea level, under the Schnidejoch Pass.

According to the researchers, in the Schnidejoch Pass in the Lenk commune, several hundred objects have been discovered since 2003, including the remains of containers made of wood, which were most likely used to transport food.

"Valais shepherds probably carried provisions in them because of the time they spent with their animals on the Bernese side of the pass," notes the April 11 document from Albert Hafner, Professor of Prehistoric Archeology at the University of Bern when presenting a chain of evidence, in collaboration with Christoph Schwörer, environmental scientist and specialist in vegetation history at the University Institute of Plant Sciences.

In addition, many simple rings made of braided twigs have been found that were used to hold mobile fence posts. Rings were thought to originate from the early Bronze Age (from 2,100 BC), but here we are talking about a tradition from this phase of prehistoric Alpine agriculture that was preserved in the Bernese Oberland for thousands of years.

In the following historical photo, contributed by the study authors, cattlemen from the Thun region can be seen building a movable fence using the same rings made of twisted twigs that their Valais ancestors applied around 7,000 years ago-


Wearing braided ring continued to be common in 19th century herding. (Schweizeische Gesellschaft fur Volkskunde, Basel)

"This is obviously an extremely simple and convenient technique that could last a long time in traditional communities," says Albert Hafner.

At the same time, the analysis of pollen from 7000 years ago found in the sediments of Lake Iffig made it possible to show the hortigas from 7000 years ago.


Switzerland, Lake Iffig (Iffigensee) in the Lenk commune of the Bernese Oberland. If thawing allowed to analyze prehistoric sediments. (Christoph Schworer)

“These nutrient-loving plants appear frequently in places where livestock were fenced at night. The spores ofSporormiella, a fungus that thrives extremely well in cattle manure was also found in the core of the sediment.

After the cooling of the climate in the Alps made the pass impassable, there are no more signs of grazing in the area during that time.

“This nomadic grassland cultivation was only possible as glaciers drastically receded during the so-called Holocene Climate Optimum. The Schnidejoch had no ice for several centuries ”, the document concludes.“ This is much earlier than was supposed ”, the academics stressed.

The Epoch Times


Video: Hiking to the Alps with cows. Every year the Swiss bring their cows to the Alps. But Why? (June 2021).