Sites and Sight Lines: An Investigation of Intervisibility Among Hilltop Sites in Azerbaijan

Author(s): Rachel Cohen

Year: 2015


Most archaeology takes as its primary unit of focus the archaeological site. Yet sites did not exist in isolation: interactions between sites, and between people and the surrounding landscape, were also an important component of ancient societies. These interactions were social, political, military, and/or ritual, and investigating the use of landscape provides archaeologists with a means to understand larger-scale processes such as growth and expansion of urban centers.

One way of looking at interactions between sites involves an examination of intervisibility. In open regions such as the Near East, sites were often located on natural or man-made hills with a commanding view of the landscape and of other sites. This high visibility could be used for defense against approaching enemies, to facilitate communication, and to create social unity. This project examines a group of eight Early Iron Age hilltop sites in the Naxçivan region of Azerbaijan. Using GIS analysis, I demonstrate the role that visibility played in the location of these sites and in their interaction with the surrounding landscape. This information, in turn, can be combined with survey and excavation data to provide a better understanding of urban development in this region.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Sites and Sight Lines: An Investigation of Intervisibility Among Hilltop Sites in Azerbaijan. Rachel Cohen. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397780)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;