All posts by patriciamar

Call for papers for papers for the journal Méditerranée : “Littoral Landscapes: Evolution and Risk of Erosion of Heritage”

Call for papers for a special issue of the journal Méditerranée entitled “Coastal landscapes: evolution and risk of heritage erosion” (issue coordinators: Benoît Devillers, Pau Olmos Benlloch and Père Castanyer).

One of the forgotten planning policies related to the current retreat of the shorelines is the erosion of the natural, archaeological and geomorphological Heritage. At the European scale, several initiatives have highlighted the vulnerability of heritage to the effects of climate change and human pressure. The conservation and mediation of this fragile heritage are actual challenges. The protection of the archaeological heritage of the coastal area is lagging far behind marine and especially continental areas. The reasons are many: difficulty of excavations, high erosion rate, lack of definition of administrative skills and very strong land pressure.

Currently, several European research teams are working on coastal erosion and archaeological heritage, particularly on the Atlantic seaboard: ALeRT project (UMR 6566 CReAAH Rennes); Litaq (Ausonius, Bordeaux); SCHARP (University of Saint Andrews, Scotland); CITiZAN (Museum of London Archeology, England); Bregantia (INCIPIT, Galicia, Spain); MASC project (Institute of Technology Sligo, Ireland). The main results were presented at international conferences such as the Homer symposium (Vannes, Brittany, 2011), the Weather Beaten Archeology (Sligo, Ireland, 2015) conferences or during specific sessions in the symposium of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) (Helsinki, 2012 and Glasgow, 2015) or Landscape Archeology Conference (Uppsala, 2016).

The various works carried out in the Atlantic facade show the need for projects to inventory and monitor site erosion. Storm episodes in recent years (2010, 2014) have accelerated the process of destruction and discovery of archaeological sites. In the Mediterranean, the situation is different, the climatic events are less violent, but there is a slow and gradual erosion, particularly in relation with the urbanization of the coasts. However, there are exceptions where sea-level rise, over-spells and anthropogenic pressure are accelerating the process of coastal erosion and destruction of archaeological heritage, as is the case of Kerkennah archipelago in Tunisia.

On the east and central Mediterranean coast, other initiatives have emerged, notably the project “Noé cartodata: carte de risque du patrimoine” (2006-2010) which aimed at developing a reflection on the protection of cultural heritage in the face of natural hazards. More recently, the European project CLIMA (Cultural Landscape Risk Identification Management Assessment) has taken up this issue on the analysis of soil erosion processes and archaeological remains. While these projects are mainly oriented towards monumental heritage, they have a similar basis to projects that focus on the archaeological heritage of the western Mediterranean coast.

The call for papers concerns two main themes

1 – Coastal paleo-landscapes: a heritage to reveal

Recent studies are changing the vision of coastal history from their archaeological and geomorphological points of view. This issue is an opportunity to present new research that is distinguished by their acuteness of restitution of these landscapes or by the innovative contributions to the coastal evolution knowledge, whether from geoarchaeological or archaeological points of view. In the end, the data produced constitutes a heritage that can lead to valorization through a mediation process. From the geological and geomorphological studies in progress on the littoral they can also integrate research and management’s tools of the littoral territory.

2 – Inventory and protection of coastal memory

The second objective is the sharing of the state of the art of the erosion of the coastal heritage as well as the sharing of the methods of work concerning its valuation or preservation. We propose to publish the feedback of experiences in participatory sciences and social tools on this theme. The ultimate goal is to highlight the potential of this type of initiative in the face of weak policy action.

Please pay particular attention to the Recommendations to Authors (

Information required

Title of the proposal :

Author(s) (if several authors, underline the corresponding author) :

Address of corresponding author :

Résumé and Abstract (250 words maximum) :

Mots-clefs and Key-words (5 maximum) :

Geographical index


Benoît Devillers, UPV-UMR 5140, Archéologie des sociétés méditerranéennes, Montpellier,

Pau Olmos Benlloch, Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica, Tarragona, Cataluña, España,

Père Castanyer Masoliver, Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya-Empúries, L’Escala, Cataluña, España,


Effects of a change in temperature on ecosystems: understanding the past to predict the future

Most models of climate simulations and vegetation indicate that ongoing climate change will have a global and far-reaching impact on terrestrial species and ecosystems for decades to come. Field observations would probably give researchers more confidence in future projections and thus allow more appropriate decisions to be made. An original approach has been implemented based on the observations and expertise of over 40 paleoecology researchers around the globe.

Each researcher assessed changes in ecosystem structure and composition during the transition from the last ice age, centered around 20,000 years ago to about 14,000 years ago, in fossil sequences in his study area. These fossil recordings represent a unique and invaluable archive and provide concrete observations of the relationship between global climate change and the composition and structure of ecosystems. The chosen period of time is very interesting in terms of increasing temperatures and changing ecosystems on a global scale even if it can not be considered as analogous to the expected climate changes, in particular because of the concentrations of CO2 that were weaker than currently.

Mountain forests in Cameroon (A © A.-M. Lézine) and Morocco (B © R. Cheddadi) where the impact of current climate change is visible on populations already located at altitudinal limit.

This expert-based approach examined several hundred published paleoecological records to assess changes in the composition and structure of global terrestrial vegetation. The synthesis of the results published in the journal Science and their comparison with simulations shows that in the case of the RCP2.6 scenario (temperature increase of about 1.5 ° C, in line with that of the Paris Agreement of 2015) the impact would be limited but in the case of the RCP8.5 scenario, terrestrial ecosystems would be strongly threatened by rising temperatures and most ecosystems would risk profound and irreversible changes such that ecosystem services and biodiversity would be irretrievably affected.

Researchers from the Institut des Sciences de l’Évolution de Montpellier, the Institut méditerranéen de biodiversité et d’écologie marine et continentale, the  Centre européen de recherche et d’enseignement de géosciences de l’environnement and the Laboratoire d’océanographie et du climat were involved in this study.

Sources :


Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change. Connor Nolan et al. Science. 31 Aug 2018. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5360

Paid Master internship opportunity in Quaternary Malacology

Paid internship opportunity for a Master (year 1 or 2) student, 4 months duration starting in February 2019, at the Laboratoire de Géographie Physique in Meudon on paleoenvironments (molluscan), supervised by N. Limondin-Lozouet and S. Granai:

Within Mémo program – Mémoire des environnements holocènes des vallées franciliennes enregistrée par les Mollusques continentaux:

Full internship announcement at:

An application form must be filled at:

Please contact Nicole Limondin-Lozouet (

450,000-year-old human teeth reveal Neanderthal characteristics

French and Italian research teams have analyzed by X-ray scans the oldest human teeth discovered on the Italian peninsula. These specimens, some 450,000 years old, from the Italian sites of Fontana Ranuccio, 50km from Rome, and from Visogliano, less than 20km from Trieste, already show Neanderthal characteristics. The study conducted by Clément Zanolli, paleoanthropologist at Toulouse III University, has just been published in the journal PLOS One.

Virtual rendering of molars Vis. 3 and FR1R from sites of Visogliano and Fontana Ranuccio. The semi-transparent view shows the morphology of dentin under the enamel and the pulp cavity. © Clement Zanolli

The history of the Neanderthals is still unknown, especially in the earliest period of their development, from the time their lineage splits from ours around the transition from the Lower and Middle Pleistocene (between 1 million years and about 650,000 years ago), to the emergence of classical Neanderthals less than 200,000 years ago. One of the key periods for understanding the origin of Neanderthals is thus between 500,000 and 350,000 years ago.

An international collaboration involving French and Italian researchers allowed to study the internal structure of dental remains from these two Italian sites using high-resolution imaging methods. X-ray microtomography analysis of various parameters such as the proportions of the dental tissue, the thickness of the enamel, the morphology of dentin and pulp cavity allowed to highlight some characteristics commonly found in Neanderthals, which clearly differ from those specific to modern humans. The results suggest a demographic division and more or less prolonged periods of isolation. One of the important factors to consider is the climate. 450,000 years ago, northern Europe was covered by ice, and northern Spain and Italy had to be at the northern limit of habitable areas.

Sources :

CNRS – Institut Ecologie et Environnement (INEE)

Zanolli C, Martinón-Torres M, Bernardini F, Boschian G, Coppa A, Dreossi D, Mancini L, Martínez de Pinillos M, Martín-Francés L, Bermúdez de Castro JM, Tozzi C, Tuniz C, Macchiarelli R. The Middle Pleistocene (MIS 12) human dental remains from Fontana Ranuccio (Latium) and Visogliano (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), Italy. A comparative high resolution endostructural assessment. PLoS One. 2018 Oct 3;13(10):e0189773. PubMed PMID: 30281595.

The AFEQ-CNF INQUA is an association that moves!

An annual excursion (soon Portugal!), A biennial Q colloquium in which are awarded a thesis prize and soon a medal honoring a remarkable career (more information to come …), a specialized day with the SGF Each year (this year: the Mediterranean), funding is awarded each year to a dozen or so young researchers to help them participate in international symposia … all of which reflect a dynamic, diverse and united community.

The AFEQ-CNF INQUA is also, of course, a specialized journal, independent and of quality: Quaternary. If you have subscribed, you have already been able to test this year’s online access to the journal as soon as it is published. Next year, you can choose to go digital or continue to receive your paper fascicles: an evolution that was expected …

All this has a cost and if the AFEQ-CNF INQUA managed to maintain the same rates since 2013, it was time to make them evolve a little … but not too much!

As of 2019, the new rates will be as follows:
Adhesion only: 20 euros / year
Membership with Quaternary subscription: 60 euros / year
Membership with Quaternaire subscription for students and out-of-status: 40 euros / year

Valérie Masson-Delmotte auditioned to the Senate on the consequences of a global warming of 1.5°C

Valérie Masson-Delmotte, paleoclimatologist at the French Laboratory for Climate and Environmental Sciences (LSCE), is co-chair of the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on  Climate Change) Working Group on Climate Physical Basis. Following the publication of a special report on the impacts of a global warming of 1.5°C, she was auditioned in the Senate. A video of her testimony and the questions and answers that followed is available on the Senate website.

In a 13-minute presentation, she summarizes in very accessible and educational terms the construction and conclusions of this report. It was prepared following a request from COP 21, arising from countries most vulnerable to global warming. This report has an unprecedented interdisciplinary dimension in the drafting of each of its chapters. It includes two very innovative chapters on action options and the benefits of acting now towards sustainable development goals.

© Sean Wu / IISD6ENB

The four key messages of the report are the following :

  • Climate change is already affecting people, ecosystems and livelihoods everywhere
  • There are undeniable advantages in limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C or more, and every half degree counts
  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C is not impossible but would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society and political will is crucial
  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C can go hand in hand with achieving global sustainable development goals for improving the quality of life for all

Valérie Masson-Delmotte concludes her intervention with this message:

Every half degree counts, with respect to climate risks. Each year counts, with respect to the consequences in order to control climate change. Every decision counts. Not to act today is to increase the burden on younger generations who will have to deal with the consequences of global warming and the deployment of more difficult and riskier actions. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C is not impossible, but the political will to accelerate transitions is essential.

This intervention is followed by an in-depth discussion, which notably evokes alarmism, and the need for courage, the production of knowledge on the local impacts of global warming, the local to global action options, the links relating climate – health – sustainable development – eradication of extreme poverty – demography. Energy trajectories. The individual and collective responsible choices. The functioning of the IPCC and its role vis-à-vis the political community and the actors of change. Vulnerable countries and regions. The role of education and the mobilization of youth.

Sources :

IPCC’s special report on impacts of a 1.5°C climate warming

Audition of Valérie Masson-Delmotte in the Senate

CEA website press page – a world at +1.5°C

AFEQ-SGF day 2018: Climate and societal transformations in the Mediterranean world during the last 12 thousand years

The AFEQ-SGF 2018 day will focus on Climate and societal transformations in the Mediterranean world over the last 12 thousand years. It will be held on Friday, November 16th, at the Maison de la Géologie in Paris.

For more information, consult the program or contact Laurent Lespez (

The capacity of the room being limited, you must register as soon as possible with Laurent Lespez.

The complexity of ancient Mayan cities now demonstrated

The detection, thanks to Lidar technology, of thousands of Mayan ruins in northern Guatemala was revealed last January. Their extensive analysis was published on September 28, 2018 in the journal Science by an international collaboration in which two French researchers, a CNRS archaeologist and a geographer from the University Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis participated.

Thanks to the Lidar, 135 km2, or 70 times the study area studied so far, could be explored. First surprise: the density of human occupation in this region, much higher than we imagined until now (more than 62 000 structures identified including 12 000 for the Naachtun area). And among the other discoveries are the inter-connectivity, unsuspected on this scale, of Mayan cities between them via the construction of long roads that cross areas of hills and wetlands, the diversity of agrarian and hydraulic developments or the use of elaborate defensive systems. With the density of the occupation, it is the landscaping that surprise the most since, to take only the example of Naachtun, no less than 18 000 agricultural terraces, 5 400 drainage and irrigation channels in connection with agricultural micro-plots and 70 large reservoirs were identified. These results reveal an intensive and large-scale exploitation of environmental resources as well as risk management by the Mayan populations of the so-called classical period (150 to 950 AD).

Image of the monumental epicenter of Naachtun © Projet Naachtun/A. Dorison



Canuto M. A., Estrada-Belli F., Garrison T. G., Houston S. D., Acuña M. J., Ková? M., Marken D., Nondédéo P., Auld-Thomas L., Castanet C., Chatelain D., Chiriboga C. R., Drápela T., Lieskovský T., Tokovinine A., Velasquez A., . Fernández-Díaz J. C. and Shrestha R. 2018, Ancient Lowland Maya Complexity as Revealed by Airborne Laser Scanning of Northern Guatemala, in Science.

de Naachtun © Projet Naachtun/A. Dorison

Death of Jean Sommé

We have just learned of the death of Jean Sommé on September 20, 2018. Jean Sommé, Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Lille and former President of the AFEQ has been an active, respected and appreciated person in the community since the early 1960s. He had a talent for expressing himself clearly and precisely, both in his writings and in his figures and maps. He handled the concepts with rigor and did not hesitate to shake up conventional thinking and ill-founded precepts. The AFEQ-CNF INQUA, in collaboration with the SGN and INRAP, paid tribute to him last fall through a study day on the theme of the “plains of northern France” and celebrated with him the 40 years of the publication of his state thesis.

We lose a lively and passionate spirit, a colleague, a friend …
Our thoughts are with the members of his family.

A religious ceremony will be held at the Saint-Vincent Church in Marcq-en-Baroeul (North of France), Wednesday, September 26 at 11am.

8000 years ago in Caucasus : the most ancient structures of water flood management

Geomorphological analyses have revealed the most ancient infrastructures of water management, dated 8000 years ago, at the Georgian Neolithic site Gadachrili Gora (Caucasus). A water stream rerouting using canals induced an inundation of the Neolithic village. The hydraulic infrastructures were then abandoned. Isotopic analyses on seeds from the archaeological site were used to identify the use of the canals for irrigation.

The Gadachrili Gora site, its canals and stratigraphy of the water management structures (CAD and photos : Vincent Ollivier).

River management for water supply is generally considered to have started 5500 years BC in the Middle East, with the development of the first Neolithic societies. In the South Caucasus, proofs of surprisingly early water management were found. A multidisciplinary team associating a past vegetation team (UMR 7209 du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris) and radiocarbon dating as well as stable isotopes specialists (LSCE UMR 8212, Université Versailles St Quentin) allowed to perform a detailed reconstruction of the landscape and societies evolution in this Caucasus region.

Sources :


Ollivier V., Fontugne M., Hamon C., Decaix A., Hatté C., Jalabadze M., 2018, Neolithic water management and flooding in the Lesser Caucasus (Georgia), Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 197, pp. 267-287.

Discovery of the most ancient pencil drawing

The most ancient example of abstract drawing, performed with ochre, has been discovered on a fragment of siliceous rock in archaeological layers dated 73 000 years before present, in the Blombos cave (South Africa). This fragment holds on one of its sides nine lines, willingly drawn with an ochre fine-point pencil. It precedes by at least 30 000 years the most ancient abstract drawings using the same technique known before. This discovery was published on September 12, 2018 in Nature by an international team involving tow French labs : Pacea(1) ans  Traces(2).

© D’Errico/Henshilwood/Nature

What is a symbol ? difficult question when the most ancient graphic designs has to be analyzed. Recent archaeological discoveries in Africa, Europe and Asia indicate an early use of symbols.

In this new article, researchers describe the most ancient known ochre pencil drawing. It was identified on a small piece of siliceous rock when analyzing rock tools from the Blombos cave in South Africa.

Sources :

CNRS – Communiqués de presse

An abstract drawing from the 73,000-year-old levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Christopher S. Henshilwood, Francesco D’Errico, Karen L. van Niekerk, Laure Dayet, Alain Queffelec & Luca Pollarolo. 12 septembre 2018, Nature. DOI : 10.1038/s41586-018-0514-3

(1) laboratoire Pacea (CNRS/Université de Bordeaux/Ministère de la Culture)

(2) laboratoire Traces (CNRS/Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès/Ministère de la Culture)

Protecting biodiversity: a lack of political decision rather than scientific knowledge

IN fifteen years, nearly 13 000 research articles have been published in the main science conservation journals. Nevertheless, biodiversity remains endangers everywhere in the world. Two CNRS researchers examined this paradox by reviewing the abundant literature on the subject. According to them, a major obstacle is the constant search for arbitrations more favorable to human activities than protection of nature. This study was published on September 10, 2018 in Trends in Ecology and Evolution.


© Thomas VIGNAUD/Te mana O Te Moana/Centre de recherche insulaire et observatoire de l’environnement (Perpignan)/CNRS Photothèque
The main threats to biodiversity have been known for about 40 years and are (i) the too strong use of resources (ii) species habitat fragmentation (iii) the introduction of invasive species and (iv) chain extinctions resulting from the three first factors. Today’s climate change further imbalance natural environments.


According to the researchers, proposals of durable solutions are not lacking. The major issue is rather the demand for arbitrations always more favorable to human activities than protecting the environment, in spite of scientific recommendations which are already shy.


Sources :
What conservation does. L. Godet et V. Devictor. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, le 10 septembre 2018.


Climate and impacts days in November 29 and 30, Orsay

The 5th edition of  “Climate et Impacts” days will aim at sharing expertise on climate variability, its impact on ecosystems as well as links between societies and their environment at all time scales. They will be held in November 29 and 30 2018, at the Orsay campus (Paris-Sud University), and will comprise 8 sessions.


As in former editions, participation is free but registration is compulsory. Registrations and contribution summaries are expected before October 24. A prize will be awarded to the best “young” contribution.