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Changing mentalities on flooding in the Upper Rhine valley landscape : An interdisciplinary landscape study on the role of changing flood perception on the emergence of its management in the Upper Rhine valley

Conijn, Adrianus Maria

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Abstract

This interdisciplinary project ‘Land Unter?’ aims to develop a history of flooding for the Upper Rhine valley from Strasbourg to Mannheim. A multidisciplinary variety of methods, sources, and data is used and combined into an interdisciplinary landscape study. By arranging a chronological cultural biography of the perception of flooding, mentality templates were defined. The great variety of data has been fit within these templates. The results show how the human perception changed over time, affecting the landscape of the Upper Rhine valley. The mentality templates shift from settlement on healthy and save terrace rims, to self-sufficiency for greater wealth. When flooding is seen as a sign for new disasters, the church offers protection of the property. Although, ongoing flooding and harsh climate conditions during the 10th century demanded a new approach and the necessity of actions on flood management had to be taken by the church. Draining and dike construction provided the possibility to extend lands and use former natural wilderness as a resource. While an increasing number of farmers got their own land, they were also obliged for the protection of their property. These were the results in a period when villages in the Upper Rhine valley had a hard time to survive natural vagaries. However, when techniques improved humans gradually gained total control of the river, resulting in the Tulla-rectification in the early 19th century. Only recently, a more harmonious interaction with nature seems to gain support. In order to see whether this theoretical timeline of mentalities holds up in practice, two case studies have been conducted. The first case study in Speyer did not result in prove of flood protection measures by Bishop Benno in the 11th century. However, bringing together geophysical data and historical sources provided some new prove on the course of the Rhine around Speyer during the early medieval period. Another case study in Ottersdorf near Rastatt included an archaeological excavation of a medieval dike. This dike has been dated back to the 11th century by humins and humin acids of the former surface layer. This is significantly earlier than other dikes in Western Europe and on top of it, it can be linked to the expansion of arable fields, which also seems quite early for offensive dike construction. Altogether, including the perception into a landscape study, this work provides a good link between geophysical data and cultural narratives. The case studies additionally confirmed and challenged several outcomes. Furthermore, this research has overcome the lack of knowledge on flooding in the Upper Rhine valley and additionally added to the academic debate on interdisciplinary research and inclusion of subjective landscape perception.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Gebhardt, Prof. Dr. Hans
Place of Publication: Heidelberg
Date of thesis defense: 18 April 2019
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2020 12:51
Date: 2020
Faculties / Institutes: Fakultät für Chemie und Geowissenschaften > Institute of Geography
Fakultät für Chemie und Geowissenschaften > Institut für Geowissenschaften
Philosophische Fakultät > Institut für Ur. -u. Frühgeschichte und Vorderasiast. Archäologie
Subjects: 900 Geography and history
940 General history of Europe
943 General history of Europe Central Europe Germany
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