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Sighting sites: viewshed analysis and site boundaries in archaeological survey

Author(s): Zarko Tankosic ; Elizabeth Watts-Malouchos

Year: 2015

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Summary

The identification, designation, and definition of the ubiquitous archaeological "site" are foundational to archaeological survey. These standard classificatory practices frequently emplace rigid spatial and temporal boundaries around human activities and portray past landscapes as simply consisting of "sites" and the unoccupied spaces outside of "sites". However, the people, places, and material things that constitute physical and social landscapes are dynamic, and the boundaries between them are fluid and permeable. Utilizing data from the Norwegian Archaeological Survey of the Karystia (NASK) Project in southern Euboea, Greece, we investigate the utility of employing visibility analysis, specifically GIS viewshed analysis, as an analytical tool to mitigate the arbitrary boundaries between site and non-site that are often the result of conventional survey methods. Although certain aspects, or rather shortcomings, of visibility analysis have remained unsatisfactory, we suggest that viewshed analysis can be a productive means for shifting focus to the everyday sensory experiences at sites and, importantly here, resituating sites and their human and nonhuman constituents back within their larger social, spatial, and temporal landscapes.

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Sighting sites: viewshed analysis and site boundaries in archaeological survey. Elizabeth Watts-Malouchos, Zarko Tankosic. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397036)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America