Producing the City-State: GIS Modeling of Rural Land Use in Medieval Tuscany

Author(s): Taylor Zaneri

Year: 2018


From 900 to 1300 AD, Italy underwent sweeping cultural changes – the rise of market economies, increased trade and commerce, and new forms of governance. Typically, the elite are cast as the drivers of these shifts, yet it was rural labor that produced the goods (particularly foodstuffs) traded in the cities, collected in the form of rent and taxes, and transformed into capital. This paper examines the impact of rural landscape strategies during the development of the medieval city-state of Lucca. Historically Lucchese rural producers had greater autonomy compared to their counterparts elsewhere in medieval Europe when it came to land choices and production. Using environmental models constructed in GIS, I examine rural settlement location in relation to land suitability for three major cultivars consumed in urban Lucca: vines, olives, and wheat. From 900 to 1300 AD, the period of city-state formation, I explore if and how rural settlement shifted to areas better or less suited to these crops, analyzing if rural producers changed their landscape occupation to engage with urban markets. In summary, I investigate the impact of the periphery on the center, by asking how rural landscape use impacted and interacted with urban transformations.

Cite this Record

Producing the City-State: GIS Modeling of Rural Land Use in Medieval Tuscany. Taylor Zaneri. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442710)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -13.711; min lat: 35.747 ; max long: 8.965; max lat: 59.086 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21002