The Mediterranean has long been recognised as an area that is particularly sensitive
to climate change. It is also an area that has been impacted by human activity for
millennia. Disentangling climatic and anthropogenic influences on the history of
vegetation change in the Mediterranean remains an important challenge. As a
contribution to this ongoing debate, this thesis explores the late Holocene
environment of part of the coast in Central Italy using a multiproxy approach to
investigate the archives of change preserved in dune slack deposits.
Distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic signals presents a real challenge
in most environmental reconstruction work; however, due to the extensive
archaeological research carried out at Castelporziano, it is possible to examine
human-environmental interactions in some detail. In order to understand these
interactions part of the thesis examines how management has affected recent
environmental changes and the current vegetation and whether there is a legacy of
Roman landuse at the Castelporziano estate.
The key findings of the thesis showed that dune slacks are suitable for
palaeoenvironmental reconstruction with proxies such as plant macrofossils,
ostracods, molluscs and bryozoans statoblasts. However, the pH and seasonality of
the slacks meant proxies such as pollen were badly preserved or absent, and
diatoms did not preserve due to the high levels of carbonate on site. Overall the
results show the impact of the Romans on site in terms of localised eutrophication
and increased fires, but with abandonment, came the formation of wet woodlands.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.