The museum illustrates the interplay between the flora and fauna of the landscape and the climate, with, superimposed on this natural evolution, the activities of man.
Juan Garcia at the Historical Ecology of Almeria Museum
The small mountain village of Alcudia de Monteagud, high in the Sierra de los Filabres mountains in Almeria province, a village where time seems to stand still, is an unlikely place to find a museum that is firmly rooted in the 21st century and that is the first of its kind in Europe.
Climate change 10000 BC to present day
The museum is the brain child of Doctor Juan Garcia, a doctor of history from Granada University, whose family have lived in Alcudia de Monteagud for 500 years.
Hunting in Almeria, Alhambra Palace
Over a period of two years, Juan has gathered together the results of research including pollen analysis from bore holes taken from lakes and lagoons in Almeria that show the plants that were growing over a period of thousands of years, since the end of the last Ice Age. From the plants he inferred the temperature and rainfall over the same period of time. Written records from travellers, Arabic geographers and agriculturalists, friezes from the Roman period illustrating hunts, paintings in unlikely places such as the ceilings in the Alhambra in Granada and a whole host of records from other sources give an indication of the animals that roamed the landscape that, in turn, supports the record of flora since each animal has a preferred habitat. His research also looked at how and why the landscape has been altered by humans.
Robson steam engine Museo de Historia Ecológica de Almería
All this information has allowed him to correlate significant periods of history with changes to the landscape. For instance, the Argar people suddenly appeared in the archaeological record in Almeria about 2200 BC, displacing the previous people known as the Los Millarians. At the same time the levels of precipitation fell dramatically, as did the average annual temperature. The forests and maquis covering the majority of the landscape, contracted. This climatic downturn is known as the 4.2k event; it happened 4.2 thousand years ago. The Argar people grew crops more suited to a dry environment and had a strict hierarchical social system, suited to surviving in the harsh landscape. Recent ancient DNA studies indicate that the Argar people originated in the southern steppes of Russia and the Ukraine, probably driven south and west seeking warmer climes as the climate deteriorated in the north. The research carried out by Juan and his colleagues show that the Argar people were probably the first organised group to tackle climate change through organisational and technological innovations.
More recently, during the late 19th century AD, the botanical research shows the effects on the landscape of the mining industry that blossomed during this period. Interestingly, the pollution levels in the atmosphere created by smelting lead reached a peak during the Roman period that was only surpassed about 1900 AD.
The Historical Ecology of Almeria Museum illustrates the fascinating interplay between the flora and fauna of the landscape and the climate, with, superimposed on this natural evolution, the activities of man. Not least interesting are the multiple sources of information providing evidence of this delicate dance between humans and nature. The period covered is about 10,000 BC until the present day. All the displays have information in Spanish and English.
The Museo de Historia Ecológica de Almería is a ‘must see’ for anybody interested in history, ecology, climate change or land use. At the time of writing (February 2022), the museum has not been inaugurated, however Juan Garcia is prepared to show people round his museum if arrangements are made in good time prior to the visit. Weekends are preferred. Juan’s email address is: email@example.com