Geoarchaeology of the Rhone River in the area of Pont Saint- Bénézet (Avignon, Provence, France) during the second half of the second millennium AD: An integrated historical geography and palaeoenvironmental study [Géoarchéologie du Rhône dans le secteur du pont Saint-Bénézet (Avignon, Provence, France) au cours de la seconde moitié du deuxième millénaire apr. J.-C.: Étude croisée de géographie historique et des paléoenvironnements]
Vella M.-A.,Center Europeen Of Recherche Et Denseignement En Geoscience Et Environnement |
Ghilardi M.,Center Europeen Of Recherche Et Denseignement En Geoscience Et Environnement |
Diouf O.,Center Europeen Of Recherche Et Denseignement En Geoscience Et Environnement |
Parisot J.-C.,Center Europeen Of Recherche Et Denseignement En Geoscience Et Environnement |
And 12 more authors.
Geomorphologie: Relief, Processus, Environnement | Year: 2013
Avignon's Bridge, also called Pont Saint-Bénézet, is studied here using a geoarchaeological approach where historical geography methods and palaeoenvironmental proxies are combined for a better understanding of the relationships between the Rhone River evolution and its morphological impacts on the Bridge's use, change and abandonment. The aim of this paper is i) to reconstruct the position of the Rhone River in the area of the Saint-André Fort (situated 1 km northward of the bridge) during Modem times and ii) to propose potential locations of the ancient arches today buried by the Rhone River sediments or found within the two active channels of the River. Results derived from the scrutiny of historical sources (mainly maps), bathymetric survey together with acoustic camera scans of the River's bed clearly reveal the presence of masonry block accumulations at regular intervals within both channels (the Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and Avignon's channels). An interpretation concerning the shape of the Bridge is hereby proposed and is in good accordance with the different drawings and paintings established between the 16th and the 17th c. In addition, 5 boreholes were drilled, to a maximum depth of 7.6 m below the surface, in the western most part of the alluvial plain (Fort Saint-André area) helping to reconstruct the fluvial environments in the vicinity of the Saint-Bénézet Bridge. A chronostratigraphy has been established using a series of 4 radiocarbon dating samples. Historical maps were integrated in a Geographic Information System (GIS) together with a bathymetric survey of the Rhone River and geophysical prospection (Electric Resistivity Tomography - ERT) that allowed a spatial interpretation of the boreholes. The present study highlights major hydrosedimentary changes within the Rhone alluvial plain in the area surrounding the Bridge at Avignon from the 16th to the mid 19th c. Evidence for a gradual shifting of the Rhone River eastwards from the 17th c. is attested and a final disconnection of the Saint-André Fort with the Villeneuve-lès-Avignon channel is observed during the first half of the 18th c.