The first cultural landscapes of Europe - and before...

Author(s): Jan Kolen

Year: 2017


Cultural landscapes appear relatively late in the human history. In Europe, between c. 40-20.000 BP, people for the first time seem to have transformed (parts of) their environment intentionally on a significant spatial scale in order to make places and areas "fit" for future activities. Already between 40.000 and 30.000 BP, prominent natural formations and hidden places were marked with signs and symbols to enable distant communication. From c. 25.000 BP onwards, on-site constructions, such as dwelling structures, were deliberately "built" to facilitate livelihood. By 20.000 BP, hunter-gatherers probably used fire as a landscaping tool as well. The timing of these developments makes clear that the emergence of cultural landscapes does not simply coincide with the appearance of anatomically modern humans in Europe. This paper briefly discusses the evidence for the thesis that the cultural landscape is a late development. However, it also criticizes the idea that the earliest cultural landscapes can be understood properly from conventional geographical perspectives. Thirdly, the paper explores what could have characterised human niche construction in the millennia before c. 40.000 BP. How did Late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers organize their living space if not by means of cultural landscapes in a more or less classical sense?

Cite this Record

The first cultural landscapes of Europe - and before.... Jan Kolen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431632)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17038