LIVED LANDS. Communities, environment and land-use on the middle Mureş valley in the Late Iron Age and Roman provincial period

This project is funded by the Ministry of Research and Innovation CNCS - UEFISCDI

This project is managed under the administrative and scientific authority of the Romanian Academy Cluj-Napoca Branch


The project proposes an innovative, multi-disciplinary approach, aiming to investigate the ways in which different communities inside the Carpathians range interacted with the environment, creating, using and manipulating specific landscapes from the Late Iron Age to Roman period. Their means and actions were shaped by highly localized social, economic, cultural and ecological factors, yet no attempts were made so far to identify and compare these interactions across time and space, or to assess the evolution of local social dynamics from the landscape perspective. The Mureş River was the main connecting route, shaping this territory’s development throughout history, so the project will focus on three key micro-regions on its middle basin (Ocna Mureş – Aiud, Alba Iulia – Sebeş and Cugir – Cigmău), each including different categories of Late Iron Age and Roman sites (rural and urban settlements, military installations, fortresses, quarries, salt mines, burial and sacred places etc) and environmental settings. Several aspects will be taken into consideration, including settlement ecology, economic strategies, ritual and ideological manipulations of the environment, degree of connectivity. A multi-disciplinary approach will be used, involving analytical methods from archaeology, social anthropology, geophysics, geology, chemistry, biology, pedology, as well as digital landscape and environmental modelling and statistical analysis.


The project will have a significant scientific contribution to the major international debate concerning the social, economic and cultural outcome of human engagement with the environment, a research topic which is strongly biased towards Western Europe and the Americas due to the scarcity of comprehensive, multi-disciplinary studies based on archaeological evidence from Eastern Europe. Accordingly, the project will provide a methodological model for future similar investigations focusing on other areas or historical periods, which will enable Romanian archaeological research to meaningfully contribute to the respective international debate by providing a specific historical perspective. The project will also have an economic impact, by identifying the location and spatial extension of unexcavated sites, and providing a database of the sites needing protection, to help the local authorities planning cost-effective infrastructure investments and conservation programs. The project’s results will also have an educational impact, by helping museums which hold the archaeological evidence used in these analyses to develop effective educational tools and diversify their exhibitions aiming to reveal the daily life and customs of the local past communities to the general public. Lastly, the project will provide a nurturing research environment which will enable the younger team members to enhance their expertise and develop a successful research career.


The project aims to identify and compare certain patterns and trends which defined the ways in which different Late Iron Age and Roman communities from the middle Mureş basin created, used and manipulated different social, economic, cultural and ritual landscapes, as well as the transformations which they experienced due to changes in the local and regional socio-political, demographic and economic conditions through time. An innovative, multi-disciplinary approach will be used, to provide a comprehensive image of these transformations in the longue durée, thus answering several important questions regarding the archaeology and history of this region, while also offering a solid base for further scientific, educational or heritage protection programs.

Objective 1.
The spatial and temporal distribution of different categories of sites from each micro-region, either already excavated or only identified through satellite images and aerial or/and field surveys, will be examined through a combination of methods to identify particularities in settlement systems and networks of communication in different environmental settings.

Objective 2.
Practices related to agriculture, animal husbandry, water management, quarrying, salt extraction and craftsmanship will be analysed through a combination of specific methods to identify and compare the economic strategies of different communities and their environmental impact through time.

Objective 3.
The spatial interplay between settlements and burial and sacred places, including earlier-dated ones, will be examined through a combination of methods to assess the ways in which different communities created, used and manipulated ritual landscapes through time, and their relevance for various individual and collective identity constructs.

Objective 4.
Patterns identified through investigations listed for Objectives 1, 2 and 3 will be compared using specific methods to discuss the relations between various landscape transformations and the changes in local and regional social, economic and cultural dynamics from the Late Iron Age to the Roman period.

Objective 5.
Starting from data retrieved through investigations listed for Objectives 1 and 2, an open-access database will be created, containing the identified sites, their location, extension, research and conservation status, and the manmade or/and natural factors which affect them, to be used in future scientific, educational, investment or conservation programs.

Academic Days of Cluj-Napoca 2022. National Conference with internațional participation „Archaeology in Transylvania. From field research to interpretation (2nd edition)”

Archaeology in Transylvania 2022



Zilele Academice Clujene 2021

ZAC 2021

Workshop "Lived lands. Communities, environment and land-use on the middle Mureş valley in the Late Iron Age and Roman provincial period. Methods and theories"

Workshop Lived Lands 2021