An Archaeological Theory of Landscapes [electronic resource]

by Heilen, Michael Peter.

Abstract (Summary)
Recent decades have seen a surge of landscape concepts in archaeology. Despite strong, growing interest in landscapes, landscape archaeology lacks theoretical and methodological consistency and coherence. To address this problem, I develop a general, integrative framework for landscape archaeology.I argue that landscape concepts have a deep history in anthropological debate. Disagreements between landscape approaches are framed as recapitulations of an ongoing historical dialectic in anthropology. I suggest that fundamental binary oppositions in landscape archaeology can be understood in terms of the epistemological and philosophical distinctions between what Sahlins (1976) has termed cultural logic and practical reason. Optimistically, I offer the working hypothesis that landscape studies may form the synthesis of this entrenched dialectic.I argue that landscape perspectives in archaeology benefit from approaches in geography and ecology, but ultimately artifacts and behavior-based models will need to be built to explain archaeological landscape patterns. Drawing upon behavioral archaeology, I introduce the concepts of archaeological and systemic landscapes and argue that this distinction is critical for making inferences about systemic landscape processes from archaeological landscape patterns. Further, I consider the relevance of scale issues in analyzing landscape patterns and processes.In contradistinction to current approaches that highlight the role of perception and ritual in cognized landscapes, I argue that landscapes are also cognized according to techno-functional categories and suggest that in many cases, how landscapes are cognized is intimately related to how they are used.To model landscapes, I suggest that landscapes are networks and may share some properties with other kinds of biological, ecological, technological, and social networks. I argue that basic properties of landscapes may be allometrically related in manners similar, but potentially distinct from, relationships observed for non-human organisms in physiology and biology. In order to counter notions that human behaviors are either reflexes of environmental conditions or constitutive of environments, I advance the notion of landscape hierarchy. Finally, I explore aspects of systemic and archaeological landscapes relevant to a Class III pedestrian survey I directed in southern Arizona, the Ironwood Forest National Monument survey.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:

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