GIS Models of an Iron Age Central Eurasian Macro-scale Religious Landscape
Author(s): Kathryn MacFarland
Scythian, Saka, and Xiongnu peoples lived in northern central Eurasia throughout the Iron Age (1,000-100 BCE). Current research in this region has revealed a variety of economic strategies employed by people who lived in this time period: agriculture, pastoral nomadism, and metallurgy. This project seeks to fill gaps in current understanding of landscape utilization and consistent iconographic usage by attempting to identify and study processes driving religious complexity utilizing a GIS-based approach to identify and study the structure of religious belief on a continental scale, or macro-scale landscape. For our purposes, religion is defined as a structured system of beliefs and symbols that permeate their everyday lives. Thus, analysis of distinctive and predominantly animal iconography on artifacts associated with the Scythian, Saka, and Xiongnu is a primary line of inquiry for identification of the way Iron Age peoples in central Eurasia structured their lives. Two types of inter-related analyses are discussed. General statistical analysis identifies behavioral patterns expressed in material culture; Integrated Distance Analysis (IDA) accounts for geographic and statistical proximity within complex datasets in pair-wise comparisons of attribute categories. IDA explores and accounts for local variability, identifying which variable is most predictive of animal iconography.
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GIS Models of an Iron Age Central Eurasian Macro-scale Religious Landscape. Kathryn MacFarland. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404894)
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