Mountain communities in High Middle Ages: Catalan Pyrenees and Pre-Pyrenees (5th-9th centuries) is a project awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya in the field of archaeological research. The idea was born in the Els Altimiris site, located on the northern slope of the Montsec d’Ares mountain range, a place where we have been excavating since 2004 in successive summer campaigns. Its chronology (late 5th century – early ninth century) has led us to consider the occupational reality of mountain areas in this period that we can call protomedieval.

Our goals can be summarized in:

  1. Characterize and define archaeologically, the so-called high settlements, specifically those located in mountainous areas and differentiate them from others located in coastal and flat areas.
  2. Analyze the process of ruralization that occurs in the transition from Late Antiquity to the High Middle Ages, define the phases and typify the material evidence that corresponds to this process.
  3. Investigate the presence or absence of local elites with the capacity to organize a new model, establish nesting hierarchies, if possible, and define the process of consolidating them.
  4. Define the role of the Church, especially in its regular aspect, assess its presence on the territory and understand its origin. Identify its physical characteristics through the archaeological record and contrast it with the Benedictine model that will be implemented in the area from the ninth century.

    From a methodological point of view we propose to carry out different actions that we can summarize in:

    1. Visual archaeological surveys and archaeological surveys when deemed appropriate.
    2. Extensive archaeological interventions in the sites of Els Altimiris and Sant Martí dels Tombetes.
    3. Review texts and documents that can provide us with data of interest for our research.
    4. Analyze the ceramic materials recovered in the interventions and surveys to characterize the phases of occupation and establish contacts between different areas. Define technotypologically and chronologically these materials.
    5. Implement the analysis based on Geographic Information Systems in order to establish patterns of settlement, exchange and consolidation of the ecclesiastical structure.
    6. Carry out various analyzes on materials and samples obtained in the surveys and excavations carried out.
    7. Review memories and materials of previous actions in sites located in mountain areas of similar chronology.

    From a spatial point of view, our research focuses on the areas we have been working on in recent years. Mainly the Montsec mountain range, the Conca de Tremp, the Boumort mountain range and the Alt Pallars. We have also incorporated three more areas that are being the subject of doctoral theses and that, due to their characteristics, are related to our project. These are the Alt Urgell, the Vall del Cardener and the Baix Montseny.

    The team is structured in three interrelated areas:

    1. Archeology: Planning and execution of archaeological and prospecting campaigns. Materials analysis, restoration of materials and structures. Interpretation of the archaeological record. Marta Sancho i Planas, Walter Alegría Tejedor, Isabel Hidalgo Suárez, Silvia Marín Ortega, Jordina Sales Carbonell and Margarita Fernández Mier.
    2. Documentation: Collection of bibliographic and documentary data. Definition of historical frameworks and rural environments. Pau Castell Granados, Rosa Lluch Bramon, Mireia Comas Via, Carme Muntaner Alsina.
    3. Computer science: Computerization and data analysis, interpretive proposals and generation of specific cartography. Maria Soler Sala, Jordi de Bolòs Masclans, Borja Tàpia Ferreiro, Marc Ferrer Fernández.