submitted by Site Administrator on 14.01.2005
GIS and quantitative analysis are used to explore a series of simple but important issues in GIS-led survey. We draw on information collected during intensive archaeological field survey of the island of Kythera, Greece, and consider four questions: the relationship between terracing and enclosed field systems; the effect of vegetation on archaeological recovery; site definition and characterization in multi-period and artifact-rich landscapes; and site locations modeling that considers some of the decisions behind the placing of particular Bronze Age settlements. We have chosen GIS and quantitative methods to extract patterns and structure in our multi-scalar dataset, demonstrating the value of GIS in helping to understand the archaeological record and past settlement dynamics. The case studies can be viewed as examples of how GIS may contribute to four stages in any empirically based landscape project insofar as they move from the spatial structure of the modern landscape, to the visibility and patterning of archaeological data, to the interpretation of settlement patterns.
GIS is a well-established archaeological tool, but few analyses relating to field survey have gone beyond discussing data-structures, field collection routines, processing methods, or visualization of static data. Notable exceptions include Bintliff (2000), Bell, Wilson, and Wickham (2002), and Barton et al (2002) which explore thematic issues in human-landscape relationships using GIS. We continue this trend and demonstrate the potential of GIS with four case studies in Mediterranean landscape archaeology: an investigation of spatial structure of the modern agricultural landscape; an assessment of the effect of ground visibility on the recovery of archaeological remains; a study of site analysis of the decision-making behind ancient site location. The focus is not on the use of GIS per se, nor the mechanics of the analysis, but on the spatial organization of the contemporary and ancient landscape. We suggest that the case studies can be viewed as examples of stages in any empirically based landscape project as they move from an assessment of the modern landscape, to the visibility an patterning of archaeological data, to the interpretation of settlement patterns.
Our case studies come from the intensive field survey of the island of Kythera, Greece. Lying 15 km off Cape Maleas on the southern trip of the Peloponnese, this island is a stepping-stone between the culturally and geographically distinctive areas of the Greek mainland to the north, and the island of Crete to the SE. Some 280 sq km in area, it is a classic semi-arid Mediterranean landscape. Yet as with many Mediterranean environments (Horden and Purcell 2000), smale-scale topographic and environmental variability is an important factor and has had an underlying effect on past and present settlement dynamics and land-use. While Kythera might be treated as a distinctive cultural entity in its own right, its integration within larger networks of cultural interaction is a defining factor in the island´ s long-term history (Broodbank).
Our work on the Kythera Island Project (KIP), directed by Cyprian Broodbank, investigates many of these issues. It has several components, the foremost of which is an intensive archaeological field survey of an area comprising more than a third of the island. Complementary research agendas target specific questions relating to geomorphology, biodiversity, ethnography, and historical geography. The need to coordinate these studies provides an ideal opportunity to deploy GIS as an integrative and analytical tool. GIS has been an inextricable part of the project from the onset, a vehicle for the collection and treatment of data, and the primary tool for exploring relationshios between cultural and environmental dynamics.
To read the remainder of this article in PDF format, please click here .
Thank you very much to Professor James Conolly, for permission to reprint " Archaeological Survey, and Landscape Archaeology on the Island of Kythera " at kythera-family.net.
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