Terraced Lands: From Put in Place to Put in Memory

  • Ada Acovitsióti-Hameau
Part of the Environmental History book series (ENVHIS, volume 9)


The terracing of sloping, rocky, and hilly land is man’s answer to the physical environment’s potentialities and constraints. It sets up singular territories where nature and culture are tightly linked. The places of action and life thus created report a high level of symbiosis between inhabitants/users and used time/spaces. This symbiosis defines the quality of the areas where humans live, the écoumène as explained by Augustin Berque (Berque in Écoumène, Introduction à l’étude des milieux humains. Belin, Paris, 2000). Acquainted to a put in writing of the relief, these arrangements tangibly mark the way users—permanent, seasonal, or passers-by—perceive the territory. Expressed by tracing and by artifacts widely executed in dry stone, this “writing on the soil” conforms and orders space and establishes a network of relationships concerning family; neighborhood; production; cooperation; and structuring societies, land property, and technical systems. Functional efficiency and aesthetics create another register of shared perceptions, which gives meaning to forms of the landscape, to constructed works, and to modes of building, conferring an identity recorded by the collective memoirs. These perpetual comings and goings established between the territory’s reality and its representation, this fertile trajectivity —to paraphrase Gérard Chouquer—between the material and the mental, justify and legitimize attention to and care for terraced lands because, beyond the universe of forms and production of goods, these sets help us appreciate lifestyles and think about man’s way of being in the world.


Terraced lands Physical environment Social structures Land property Technical systems Landscape perception Collective memoirs Écoumène Trajectivity Dry stone study Association-Société de la pierre sèche France 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Société Scientifique Internationale Pour L’étude Pluridisciplinaire de La Pierre SècheBrignolesFrance

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