Aiming to study the historical origins and the chronology of the vineyard landscape of Ribeira Sacra, with its typical terraced architecture, the research revealed that, contrary to what was maintained by academic tradition, this cultural landscape has its origin in the 10th century, and not in Roman times. The first transformations would have been related to the construction of monasteries, chapels or other types of property and land use relations of a pre- and proto-feudal nature. In the 13th century, with the arrival of the Cistercian Order to the region, the greatest transformation in the natural landscape will have taken place, with the expansion of vineyards to the current areas of Val do Frade and O Eivedo.
These conclusions coincide with the oldest chronological reference known from the documentation of the cultivation of wine in the area, which situates it in 876, in a document of donation of vineyards to the monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil (Ourense). “Everything we see in the documents is confirmed thanks to soil sciences and thanks to archaeology,” Xurxo Ayán said in remarks to journalists.
In addition to the scientific relevance of the discoveries, these results will be fundamental to reinforce the candidacy of the cultural landscape of Ribeira Sacra as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since they show the uniqueness of this landscape, with about 1000 years of history and resilience, in both the European context and worldwide.
The archaeological and edaphic surveys and dating analyses with Carbon-14 were coordinated by the archaeologist from the IHC, having been developed with the Institute of Heritage Sciences (INCIPIT) of the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and financed by the Directorate-General of the Cultural Heritage of Xunta de Galicia, the local community of Vilachá and the Municipality of A Pobra do Brollón.
In the press conference (video) intervened Felipe Criado (INCIPIT — CSIC), Cruz Ferro-Vázquez (ICArEHB — University of Algarve), Carmen Martínez Insua (Director-General of Cultural Heritage of Galicia), Xurxo Ayán Vila (IHC — NOVA FCSH), and Xosé Lois Maceda (Mayor of A Pobra do Brollón).
Image: Os Conventos archaeological site (Source: Adegas da Memória)
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