Reconstructing archaeo-landscapes: myth versus reality
A. Sarris, A. Chliaoutakis, S. Dederix & J. C. Donati In E. Photos-Jones, Y. Bassiakos, E. Filippaki, A. Hein, I. Karatasios, V. Kilikoglou & E. Kouloumpi (eds), 2016. Proceedings of the 6th Symposium of the Hellenic Society for Archaeometry (Bar International Series 2780), Oxford: 195-200.
Thanks to the diversification of scientific methods that can support archaeo-environmental studies, researchers have at their disposal an increasing amount of data that can be combined to place past human activities back into their contemporary environment. Virtual Reality, Geophysics, Geomorphology, Remote Sensing, Agent-Based Modelling and Artificial Intelligence provide new opportunities, but also new challenges, regarding the study of ancient landscapes. Making the proper assumptions, selecting the corresponding variables and using flexible and dynamic models creates a ‘living landscape’ according to individual mindscapes. The obstacles encountered in such a task are numerous, ranging from the ways of reconstruction to the various interpretation schemes. There is therefore a variety of possible scenarios of reconstruction, which are all objective to a certain extent, insomuch as they are tied to measureable parameters of space. Such an integrative approach can only benefit archaeologists and social scientists that rely on solid groundwork when trying to recover the social, political, economic and symbolic meanings of past landscapes. This paper deals directly with the above issues, providing specific examples of how such reconstruction processes can (and should) be achieved using Geoinformatics and technology-based approaches to landscape archaeology. These include examples from (1) an aerial and satellite remote sensing application at an ancient Greek urban center in the Peloponnese, (2) a geophysical survey aiding in the 3D virtual reconstruction of Neolithic settlements in Hungary, (3) a GIS analysis of the Bronze Age tombs on Crete within their surrounding environment, and (4) an agent-based model to study the social organization of land-use patterns of Minoan Crete. As a whole, these approaches help formulate a more holistic approach to fieldwork that will frame the direction of future archaeological research.
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