Internationl Workshop on Landscape and Spatial Analysis in Archaeology. Santander, junio 2012

30/11/11 .-

Internationl Workshop on Landscape and Spatial Analysis in Archaeology
Santander, June 2012

The study of spatiality is one of the most important issues in Archaeology. Since the very first moments of the discipline, the understanding of spatial relations has been a key factor for interpreting past social dynamics. The importance of spatial analyses has led to the appearance of specific issues within Archaeology, such as Landscape Archaeology, Spatial Statistics, Cognitive Archaeology, etc., all of which can broadly be included within the Spatial Archaeology issue. On the other hand, in recent years there has been great improvement in recording methods and analysis tools, mainly thanks to the generalization of GIS, which has contributed to the development of spatial analyses.

However, these methodological improvements and conceptual developments have not always had an accompanying parallel theoretical dissertation about the real application of spatial analyses to archaeological interpretations; spatial analyses usually focus on geographic data and cartographic outcomes which have to be inserted into a previously defined, fixed framework valid in its own right, instead of really trying to link those results with the proposed interpretations. In these cases, space is automatically assumed to be a fully significant concept, either from an economic or relational perspective, but without a serious discussion of what it really means with relation to each particular case.

The main aim of the Debating Spatial Archaeology International Workshop is to provide a debate forum where archaeologists can discuss what space means in Archaeology, how it is perceived and interpreted by archaeologists, and why. Keeping in mind the need for a connection between methodology issues, analysis results and interpretations, participants are encouraged not only to analyse spatial variability, but to point out the probable reasons for such variability from in terms of social space, as well as to discuss how their spatial analyses can improve the understanding of social and historical dynamics within their case studies.


Beyond archaeological spatial datasets: Old restrictions and New Opportunities in Archaeological Spatial Information

This session aims to discuss the epistemological, analytical and interpretative potential of spatial data in archaeological contexts related to current advances (theoretical and methodological) in space technology.

At present, progress in the process of capturing, managing and analyzing spatial data in archaeological contexts has been a real revolution in our discipline. Despite this, we must admit that the technology beyond the capability of formulating and resolving our spatial problems, and under these circumstances, it is not unusual to continue to apply outdated analytical routines and old approaches to these new resources. Therefore we are interested in current theoretical and methodological issues which are applied, successfully, to other spatial problems.

We want to discuss analytical and interpretative possibilities of archaeological datasets in terms of:

o Management and use of time component in the collections of spatial data. Specifically, we want to contrast the real possibilities of the space-time cube in archeology contexts.

o Out of spatiality: Data quality and material analysis. It would be interesting to give answers to questions like: What should be the quality in the analysis of the spatial material to generate consistent information with the spatial problem investigated? Would we go beyond the rated entity distributions on a surface?

o The possibility of advances in Heuristic Approach as a way of solving certain archaeological spatial problems. In particular we refer to the Geostatistical Approach, Spatial Simulation Process and Analytical Visualization.

We are delighted to include contributions (theoretical dissertation, empirical application, state of the art) related to some of aspects mentioned in our general proposal.

The use of space from an evolutionary perspective

The use of landscape and the internal organization of habitats, camps, etc. constitute a major theme in the studies of human evolution. They tell us how humans interacted with space and how this relationship changed over time. Certain landmarks of evolution such as the colonization of new lands; the beginning of land use planning; the changes in dependence on ecological conditions; the manipulation of space; or the adaptation and internal structure of habitats, are assessed by various analytical approaches.

Moreover if these questions are integrated in a holistic approach incorporating biology, subsistence strategies or technological provisioning, they can explain important issues about social and economic changes in the past.

People beyond the numbers: the anthropological implications of spatial analyses

The generalization of GIS, Virtual Reality and agent-based approaches has entailed a big improvement in analyses focusing on the relationship between human beings and their space, thanks to the possibility of measuring and quantifying several human experiences as such visibility and perception, movement, communication, etc. On the other hand, the application of predictive models allows us to build different hypothetical scenarios, which makes it possible to explore how changes in specific conditions (environmental, demographic, technological, architectural, etc.) could be related to human behavioral variability.

However, these approaches usually lack a previous, reflexive hypothesis on which factors could have contributed to human group decision-making processes, and consequently on which variables have to be considered when modeling human behavior, the weight of these variables, or their meaning (e.g. what a strategic location really means?). On the other hand, results of spatial analyses are often considered as an end product of research, without integrating those results into an anthropological and historical dissertation.

The aim of this session is not to support inductive approaches to spatial analyses, but to discuss how human behavior has to be considered and introduced in spatial analyses, by considering the broad spectrum of choices available for any given human being or society, as well as the different ways in which spatial analyses results can be interpreted when considering behavioral variability.

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