GIS-based landform classification of Bronze Age archaeological sites on Crete Island.
ABSTRACT: Various physical attributes of the Earth's surface are factors that influence local topography and indirectly influence human behaviour in terms of habitation locations. The determination of geomorphological setting plays an important role in archaeological landscape research. Several landform types can be distinguished by characteristic geomorphic attributes that portray the landscape surrounding a settlement and influence its ability to sustain a population. Geomorphometric landform information, derived from digital elevation models (DEMs), such as the ASTER Global DEM, can provide useful insights into the processes shaping landscapes. This work examines the influence of landform classification on the settlement locations of Bronze Age (Minoan) Crete, focusing on the districts of Phaistos, Kavousi and Vrokastro. The landform classification was based on the topographic position index (TPI) and deviation from mean elevation (DEV) analysis to highlight slope steepness of various landform classes, characterizing the surrounding landscape environment of the settlements locations. The outcomes indicate no interrelationship between the settlement locations and topography during the Early Minoan period, but a significant interrelationship exists during the later Minoan periods with the presence of more organised societies. The landform classification can provide insights into factors favouring human habitation and can contribute to archaeological predictive modelling.
Project description:Archaeological investigations of settlement patterns in dynamic landscapes can be strongly biased by the evolution of the Earth's surface. The Kuril Island volcanic arc exemplifies such a dynamic landscape, where landscape-modifying geological forces were active during settlement, including sea-level changes, tectonic emergence, volcanic eruptive processes, coastal aggradation, and dune formation. With all these ongoing processes, in this paper we seek to understand how new landscape formation in the Holocene might bias archaeological interpretations of human settlement in the Kurils. Resolving this issue is fundamental to any interpretation of human settlement history derived from the distribution and age of archaeological sites from the region. On the basis of a comparison of landform ages and earliest archaeological occupation ages on those landforms, we conclude that landform creation did not significantly bias our aggregate archaeological evidence for earliest settlement. Some sections of the archipelago have larger proportions of landform creation dates closer to archaeological evidence of settlement and undoubtedly some archaeological sites have been lost to geomorphic processes. However, comparisons between regions reveal comparable archaeological establishment patterns irrespective of geomorphic antiquity.
Project description:The impact of changing climate on terrestrial and underwater archaeological sites, historic buildings, and cultural landscapes can be examined through quantitatively-based analyses encompassing large data samples and broad geographic and temporal scales. The Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA) is a multi-institutional collaboration that allows researchers online access to linked heritage data from multiple sources and data sets. The effects of sea-level rise and concomitant human population relocation is examined using a sample from nine states encompassing much of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the southeastern United States. A 1 m rise in sea-level will result in the loss of over >13,000 recorded historic and prehistoric archaeological sites, as well as over 1000 locations currently eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), encompassing archaeological sites, standing structures, and other cultural properties. These numbers increase substantially with each additional 1 m rise in sea level, with >32,000 archaeological sites and >2400 NRHP properties lost should a 5 m rise occur. Many more unrecorded archaeological and historic sites will also be lost as large areas of the landscape are flooded. The displacement of millions of people due to rising seas will cause additional impacts where these populations resettle. Sea level rise will thus result in the loss of much of the record of human habitation of the coastal margin in the Southeast within the next one to two centuries, and the numbers indicate the magnitude of the impact on the archaeological record globally. Construction of large linked data sets is essential to developing procedures for sampling, triage, and mitigation of these impacts.
Project description:We report the results of underwater archaeological investigations at the submerged Neolithic settlement of Tel Hreiz (7500 - 7000 BP), off the Carmel coast of Israel. The underwater archaeological site has yielded well-preserved architectural, artefactual, faunal and human remains. We examine and discuss the notable recent discovery of a linear, boulder-built feature >100m long, located seaward of the settlement. Based on archaeological context, mode of construction and radiometric dating, we demonstrate the feature was contemporary with the inundated Neolithic settlement and conclude that it served as a seawall, built to protect the village against Mediterranean Sea-level rise. The seawall is unique for the period and is the oldest known coastal defence worldwide. Its length, use of large non-local boulders and specific arrangement in the landscape reflect the extensive effort invested by the Neolithic villagers in its conception, organisation and construction. However, this distinct social action and display of resilience proved a temporary solution and ultimately the village was inundated and abandoned.
Project description:The Prospecting Boundaries project explores the Mazaro river corridor from a landscape archaeological perspective, using integrated prospection techniques to recover traces of past human activity and environmental contexts. One key research area is Guletta, a zone of dense multiperiod activity situated on the rocky plain above the river. In this paper, we detail results from recent work at Guletta, which has revealed numerous previously undocumented archaeological settlement features that appear to have been built in successive phases. Artifact analysis from corresponding surface survey indicates a mixture of locally produced and imported materials dating from the Middle Bronze to Archaic periods. Using these new results together with existing archaeological and environmental information, we present an initial interpretation of the occupation sequence of the settlement and explore the concept of Guletta as a connecting point between emerging indigenous, colonial, coastal, and interior interdependencies and interests in later pre- and protohistory.
Project description:This paper presents data from the English Channel area of Britain and Northern France on the spatial distribution of Lower to early Middle Palaeolithic pre-MIS5 interglacial sites which are used to test the contention that the pattern of the richest sites is a real archaeological distribution and not of taphonomic origin. These sites show a marked concentration in the middle-lower reaches of river valleys with most being upstream of, but close to, estimated interglacial tidal limits. A plant and animal database derived from Middle-Late Pleistocene sites in the region is used to estimate the potentially edible foods and their distribution in the typically undulating landscape of the region. This is then converted into the potential availability of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats) and selected micronutrients. The floodplain is shown to be the optimum location in the nutritional landscape (nutriscape). In addition to both absolute and seasonal macronutrient advantages the floodplains could have provided foods rich in key micronutrients, which are linked to better health, the maintenance of fertility and minimization of infant mortality. Such places may have been seen as 'good (or healthy) places' explaining the high number of artefacts accumulated by repeated visitation over long periods of time and possible occupation. The distribution of these sites reflects the richest aquatic and wetland successional habitats along valley floors. Such locations would have provided foods rich in a wide range of nutrients, importantly including those in short supply at these latitudes. When combined with other benefits, the high nutrient diversity made these locations the optimal niche in northwest European mixed temperate woodland environments. It is argued here that the use of these nutritionally advantageous locations as nodal or central points facilitated a healthy variant of the Palaeolithic diet which permitted habitation at the edge of these hominins' range.
Project description:Recent archaeological research on the south coast of Peru discovered a Late Paracas (ca. 400-100 BCE) mound and geoglyph complex in the middle Chincha Valley. This complex consists of linear geoglyphs, circular rock features, ceremonial mounds, and settlements spread over a 40-km(2) area. A striking feature of this culturally modified landscape is that the geoglyph lines converge on mounds and habitation sites to form discrete clusters. Likewise, these clusters contain a number of paired line segments and at least two U-shaped structures that marked the setting sun of the June solstice in antiquity. Excavations in three mounds confirm that they were built in Late Paracas times. The Chincha complex therefore predates the better-known Nasca lines to the south by several centuries and provides insight into the development and use of geoglyphs and platform mounds in Paracas society. The data presented here indicate that Paracas peoples engineered a carefully structured, ritualized landscape to demarcate areas and times for key ritual and social activities.
Project description:Key to understanding the implications of climate and land use change on biodiversity and natural resources is to incorporate the physiographic platform on which changes in ecological systems unfold. Here, we advance a detailed classification and high-resolution map of physiography, built by combining landforms and lithology (soil parent material) at multiple spatial scales. We used only relatively static abiotic variables (i.e., excluded climatic and biotic factors) to prevent confounding current ecological patterns and processes with enduring landscape features, and to make the physiographic classification more interpretable for climate adaptation planning. We generated novel spatial databases for 15 landform and 269 physiographic types across the conterminous United States of America. We examined their potential use by natural resource managers by placing them within a contemporary climate change adaptation framework, and found our physiographic databases could play key roles in four of seven general adaptation strategies. We also calculated correlations with common empirical measures of biodiversity to examine the degree to which the physiographic setting explains various aspects of current biodiversity patterns. Additionally, we evaluated the relationship between landform diversity and measures of climate change to explore how changes may unfold across a geophysical template. We found landform types are particularly sensitive to spatial scale, and so we recommend using high-resolution datasets when possible, as well as generating metrics using multiple neighborhood sizes to both minimize and characterize potential unknown biases. We illustrate how our work can inform current strategies for climate change adaptation. The analytical framework and classification of landforms and parent material are easily extendable to other geographies and may be used to promote climate change adaptation in other settings.
Project description:We investigate the origin of archaeological wool textiles preserved by anoxic waterlogging from seven medieval archaeological deposits in north-western Europe (c. 700-1600 AD), using geospatial patterning in carbon (?13C), nitrogen (?15N) and non-exchangeable hydrogen (?2H) composition of modern and ancient sheep proteins. ?13C, ?15N and ?2H values from archaeological wool keratin (n = 83) and bone collagen (n = 59) from four sites were interpreted with reference to the composition of modern sheep wool from the same regions. The isotopic composition of wool and bone collagen samples clustered strongly by settlement; inter-regional relationships were largely parallel in modern and ancient samples, though landscape change was also significant. Degradation in archaeological wool samples, examined by elemental and amino acid composition, was greater in samples from Iceland (Reykholt) than in samples from north-east England (York, Newcastle) or northern Germany (Hessens). A nominal assignment approach was used to classify textiles into local/non-local at each site, based on maximal estimates of isotopic variability in modern sheep wool. Light element stable isotope analysis provided new insights into the origins of wool textiles, and demonstrates that isotopic provenancing of keratin preserved in anoxic waterlogged contexts is feasible. We also demonstrate the utility of ?2H analysis to understand the location of origin of archaeological protein samples.
Project description:Archaeological studies estimate the initial settlement of Samoa at 2,750 to 2,880 y ago and identify only limited settlement and human modification to the landscape until about 1,000 to 1,500 y ago. At this point, a complex history of migration is thought to have begun with the arrival of people sharing ancestry with Near Oceanic groups (i.e., Austronesian-speaking and Papuan-speaking groups), and was then followed by the arrival of non-Oceanic groups during European colonialism. However, the specifics of this peopling are not entirely clear from the archaeological and anthropological records, and is therefore a focus of continued debate. To shed additional light on the Samoan population history that this peopling reflects, we employ a population genetic approach to analyze 1,197 Samoan high-coverage whole genomes. We identify population splits between the major Samoan islands and detect asymmetrical gene flow to the capital city. We also find an extreme bottleneck until about 1,000 y ago, which is followed by distinct expansions across the islands and subsequent bottlenecks consistent with European colonization. These results provide for an increased understanding of Samoan population history and the dynamics that inform it, and also demonstrate how rapid demographic processes can shape modern genomes.
Project description:We test the hypothesis that prehistoric Native American land use influenced the Euro-American settlement process in a South Carolina Piedmont landscape. Long term ecological studies demonstrate that land use legacies influence processes and trajectories in complex, coupled social and ecological systems. Native American land use likely altered the ecological and evolutionary feedback and trajectories of many North American landscapes. Yet, considerable debate revolves around the scale and extent of land use legacies of prehistoric Native Americans. At the core of this debate is the question of whether or not European colonists settled a mostly "wild" landscape or an already "humanized" landscape. We use statistical event analysis to model the effects of prehistoric Native American settlement on the rate of Colonial land grants (1749-1775). Our results reveal how abandoned Native American settlements were among the first areas claimed and homesteaded by Euro-Americans. We suggest that prehistoric land use legacies served as key focal nodes in the Colonial era settlement process. As a consequence, localized prehistoric land use legacies likely helped structure the long term, landscape- to regional-level ecological inheritances that resulted from Euro-American settlement.